This form of vase is very rare, there are only known 12 known examples and only six of these are complete, three of them are in collections in the UK.
The vases were made to display cut flowers, the top two tiers have spouts in which blooms would be placed, the sections having been filled with water. The vases would stand in the fireplace during the summer months when fires were not used.
The vases are decorated on each of the four sections in blue on white and show garden scenes, flowers, architecture, gods and goddesses and are interspersed with motifs vaguely Chinese in style as this was the inspiration for the blue on white decoration.
The vases were made in Delft in the Netherlands where a number of factories made ceramics in imitation of porcelain, these were very expensive and were made popular by Queen Mary II, the nobles at her court copied her style commissioning pieces of their own. William, 1st Duke of Devonshire had a number of large pieces made in the 1690s many of which are on display at Chatsworth.