Skip Navigation

Century Vase

Decorative Arts and Design

On View: Decorative Art, 20th-Century Decorative Arts, 4th Floor
Created for the U.S. Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia in 1876, this monumental vase was designed by a German-born sculptor and made by a premier American porcelain manufacturer. Its symbolic images include a profile portrait of George Washington and bison-head handles, while trophy heads around the midband represent other native animals such as the walrus and ram. Scenes from the nation’s past are featured in sculptural relief around the base, while above, painted vignettes devoted to examples of American invention and progress convey the sweep of history.
MEDIUM Porcelain
DATES 1876
DIMENSIONS Height: 22 1/4 in. (56.5 cm) Diameter of base: 10 in. (25.4 cm)  (show scale)
MARKINGS Raised circle with impressed mark of "U.P.W." with eagle head holding "S" in its beak.
INSCRIPTIONS Inscribed: "Century Vase / Exhibited at the Centennial / Exhibition at Philadelphia / Manufactured 1876 / By Union Porcelain Works / Greenpoint"
CREDIT LINE Gift of Carll and Franklin Chace, in memory of their mother, Pastora Forest Smith Chace, daughter of Thomas Carll Smith, the founder of the Union Porcelain Works
CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Vase, hard paste porcelain, upper section elaborately decorated with banding of blue thunderbolts, eagles and stars superimposed in gold. The handles are bison heads. Middle section with portrait medallions on one side the sewing machine, steam boat, planter, planter and reaper, opposite side has relief of Washington in white with two medallions of the Union Porcelain Works and a factory on the other side, a gold band with animal heads separates middle section from the lower section which has designs in white relief, depicting Indians, a revolutionary soldier, and the Boston Tea Party. Condition: Good
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is on view in Decorative Art, 20th-Century Decorative Arts, 4th Floor
CAPTION Karl L. H. Müller (American, born Germany, 1820–1887). Century Vase, 1876. Porcelain, Height: 22 1/4 in. (56.5 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Carll and Franklin Chace, in memory of their mother, Pastora Forest Smith Chace, daughter of Thomas Carll Smith, the founder of the Union Porcelain Works, 43.25. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 43.25_SL1.jpg)
IMAGE front, 43.25_SL1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
"CUR" at the beginning of an image file name means that the image was created by a curatorial staff member. These study images may be digital point-and-shoot photographs, when we don\'t yet have high-quality studio photography, or they may be scans of older negatives, slides, or photographic prints, providing historical documentation of the object.
You may download and use Brooklyn Museum images of this three-dimensional work in accordance with a Creative Commons license. Fair use, as understood under the United States Copyright Act, may also apply. Please include caption information from this page and credit the Brooklyn Museum. If you need a high resolution file, please fill out our online application form (charges apply). For further information about copyright, we recommend resources at the United States Library of Congress, Cornell University, Copyright and Cultural Institutions: Guidelines for U.S. Libraries, Archives, and Museums, and Copyright Watch. For more information about the Museum's rights project, including how rights types are assigned, please see our blog posts on copyright. If you have any information regarding this work and rights to it, please contact
Not every record you will find here is complete. More information is available for some works than for others, and some entries have been updated more recently. Records are frequently reviewed and revised, and we welcome any additional information you might have.