Rare Giles decorated glass Scent Flask, c.1770


This rare green scent flask is beautifully decorated in gilt with a picturesque ruin beside a tree, and birds in the sky above. The foreground is composed of boulders. On the reverse, a large bird is in flight, and the tree is placed on the opposite side of the ruin. The canted corners are decorated with geometrical motifs, including a trellis-and-dot design, surmounted by gilt circles surrounded with dots. The narrowest edges are decorated with gilt wavy lines and alternating dots, and the shoulders have a gilt motif favoured by Giles studio in his work on glass. The neck is surrounded by a gilt wavy line with a band running through it.

Gerald Coke illustrates a blue glass scent bottle with similar landscape decoration, along with a pair of green glass scent bottles decorated with many of the same geometrical 'mosaick' elements.

Contemporary advertisements reveal that perfumes, scented-waters and 'quintessences' were in great demand throughout the 18th century. Kents Directory for the Year 1794 lists 53 perfumers in London, and those of a refined and elegant status would have called on the skills of such as Richard Warren, perfumer at the sign of the Golden Fleece, Mary-le-bonne Street, Golden Square. His trade card mentions storax (styrax), myrrh and frankincense, all natural ingredients useful in the art of perfumery. Members of society could also purchase scent bottles from 'toy sellers', dealers who traded in luxury goods in London, Bath and other playgrounds of Georgian Britain.

Condition: Very good - there is no damage or restoration to the flask itself, although the stopper is broken and wedged in situ. The gilding is in very good order. The base is incised with the tiny initials ak (over) okh, possibly an inventory reference.

Dimensions: Height approximately 5.5 cm

Ref. See Launert for a Giles blue glass scent bottle with this design (Fig. 77).

The Early James Giles and his Contemporary London Decorators, Stephen Hanscombe (Stockspring Antiques Publications, 2008).

James Giles, China and Glass Painter, Stephen Hanscombe (Stockspring Antiques Publications, 2005).

In Search of James Giles, Gerald Coke (Micawber Publications, 1983).

Scent & Scent Bottles, Edmund Launert (Barrie & Jenkins Ltd, 1974).

Bertrand's Toyshop in Bath: Luxury Retailing 1685-1765, Vanessa Brett (Oblong, 2014).


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