- Museum number
Vase, one of a pair (Vases 'C'de 1780); soft-paste porcelain; flattened ovoid form, slightly domed cover with acorn knop; body attached to lower part, which is formed in one piece by means of a screw, nut and paper washer attachment visible on the underside (its other end can be discerned inside the vase, surrounded by a brown substance); the grooved outer handles curve over at the top to interlock with a series of pierced circles alternating with ovals; decorated with the Death of Harmonia on one side and a landscape on the other, within an oval gilt band tooled with a crossed ribbon motif, all on a bleu nouveau ground; around the scenes in reserve, on the neck, foot and cover, is 'jewelling' consisting of 'pearls', rosettes, strawberry leaves and a laurel leaf and berry trail in white, green and orange enamels over embossed gold foils; maker's mark.
- Production date
Height: 31.80 centimetres
- Curator's comments
Exhibited: 1985, 'Documentary Continental Ceramics from the British Museum', London. International Ceramics Fair and Seminar Ltd., June 1985, no.48, cat. compiled by A. Dawson.
Pair with 1935,1218.1
The 'Death of Harmonia', engraved by C.-N. Cochin pere, after J.-B.-M. Pierre, exhibited in the 1751 Salon, is illustrated by G. de Bellaigue, 'The Louis XVI Service', Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1986, p. 1778, 100, 1, see col. pl;. XXXVI. The scene, which he attributes to Pithou le Jeune, is found on a plate in this service. According to Jennifer Montagu, Harmonia was the daughter of a mortal, Gelon, son of Hieron II King of Syracuse, and the story comes from Valerius Maximus (III.2.9).
1) Sèvres, Musée national de Céramique, inv. 22461, pair, second size, dated 1786, beau bleu decorated with singeries in different colours of gold (covers missing).
2) Paris, Musée Carnavalet, second size, Revolutionary subject.¹
3) Chester, Sotheby's, 24/25 April 1990, Lot 1329, H. 45.1 cm, turquoise ground, pastoral scenes, no jewelling, fake.
4) Sotheby's, 13 November, 1990, Lot 176, fake pair.
5) USA, Baltimore, Walters Art Gallery, inv. 48.568 formerly E.M. Hodgkins Collection, first size, jewelled.
6) USA, California, San Marino, Huntington Library, garniture of three vases Paris nouvelle forme dated 1781, rose pointillé ground, painted with mythological and landscape scenes, jewelled motifs; see R. Wark, ‘French Decorative Art in the Huntington Collection’, San Marino (Calif.), 3rd ed. 1979, pp. 92-3, fig. 111.
In the general inventory drawn up by the Sèvres factory in 1814 this shape was called 'Vase C de 1780'. This title is confirmed by incised marks found on the base of a garniture of three jewelled vases with a pink pointillé ground in the Huntington Library, San Marino, California. The largest of the three, measuring 16.5 inches in height without its mount and dated 1781, is incised ‘1789 Vaze C prmr gr.dr 25’; on one side of one of the smaller vases, which is also dated 1781 and measures 13 inches without its mount, is incised ‘1780 Vaze C 2me grdr’ and ‘18’. On one of those smaller vases ‘2’ is inscribed in ink on one corner.² The Museum vase is therefore the second of two sizes.
The shape is also referred to in the factory archive as 'Vase Paris'³ and its design is attributed⁴ to Jacques-François Paris (or Deparis) (1735-97), ‘chef des répairs’ and head of the soft-paste workshop at Sèvres frorn 1774.⁵ A whole series of ‘Vases Paris’ were introduced in the early 1780s.⁶ Two slightly different versions of this vase are known, the other with a more elaborate turned neck, which is perhaps an earlier version.⁷ Several different handle forms have been noted.⁸ The shape is based on an etching by Marie-Thérèse Rebo Vien (1729-1802) in the ‘Suite des Vases Composée dans le Gôut de I'Antique’ after designs by Joseph Marie Vien (1716-1809).⁹
A version of the vase was in production at Sèvres during the nineteenth century.¹⁰ The shape was also produced during the eighteenth century at Chelsea,¹¹ Chelsea-Derby (in a version with a long neck and goats' head handles as on the etching),¹² by the firm of Wedgwood and Bentley, Etruria,¹³ and later by Coalport¹⁴ and Minton directly copying the Sèvres form.¹⁵
Three drawings, none of which is securely datable, are preserved in the factory archives.¹⁶ A plaster model also survives.¹⁷
The painted scenes on the front of the vases are (left?) ‘Leucothoé charmée de la beauté d’Apollon, se laisse vaincre sans résistance’ after an engraving by J.-B.-B. Simonet (after Charles Monnet) from Bannier's translation of the ‘Metamorphoses’¹⁸ and (right?) Venus and Adonis after C. Eisen from Montesquieu's ‘Temple de Gnide’, 1772, engraved by N. Le Mire, opposite p. 45. In the absence of any painter's mark it is not possible to establish with certainty who was responsible for these scenes. The scene of Leucothoé and Apollo is also found on a shell-shaped compotier in the Louis XVI service, the painting of which has been attributed by Bellaigue to Pithou ‘le jeune’.¹⁹ The Museum pair and a vase of the first size, now in the Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore, USA, were identified by Bellaigue as the three ‘vases Paris nouvelle forme’ which Pithou ‘le jeune’ received shortly after 28 June 1781 and painted with miniature scenes.²⁰ Another three of the same form were received by the painter P.-A. Le Guay shortly after 14 July 1781; these are almost certainly the pink-stippled ground vases now in the Huntington Library.²¹ In September 1781 three ‘beau bleu’ vases of ‘nouvelle forme’ were painted by Charles-Eloi Asselin, and ornamented with enamels by Philippe Parpette in December of that year.²²
The flower-painter Edmé-Francois Bouilliat is known to have painted flowers and garden landscapes on vases.²³ The pink-stippled ‘vases nouvelle forme’ which have decoration on the reverse similar to the Museum vases bear the mark of this painter, whose style is recognisable. Savill attributed a garden landscape on a ‘vase Paris de milieu’ in the Wallace Collection, London, to Bouilliat,²⁴ mentioning also the name of Pierre-Joseph Rosset as the possible author of garden scenes on the reverse of a ‘garniture’ of three ‘vases ‘E de 1780’’.²⁵
The technique of 'jewelling' is particularly associated with Philippe Parpette,²⁶ a flower-painter who had worked as an enameller before joining the Sèvres factory, and with Joseph Coteau (about 1740-1812), who came to Paris from Geneva and is known as an enameller of clock dials.²⁷ The process involves beating gold foil into steel matrices²⁸ and cutting out the scroll, leaf and other shapes. These were then applied and fired on the porcelain, which had already been decorated. A blue substance²⁹ was used to ensure the adhesion of the metal, which had first been decorated with transparent coloured enamels, fused to the metal by means of a first firing. These enamels, usually emerald green and pale orange, as well as opaque white 'pearls', were placed in 'cells' in the metal, and mostly survive, particularly on these vases.
This pair may be part of a ‘garniture’, but the only other suitable vase known, now in the Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore, USA (see above), has rather different jewelled motifs and is therefore unlikely to belong with the British Museum vases.
Only two mentions occur in the factory records which could refer to the Museum vases:
a) three vases of ‘nouvelle forme, beau bleu’, with ‘mignatures’ painted by Asselin in September 1781 and ornamented with enamels by Parpette in December of that year;³⁰
b) three vases of ‘nouvelle forme, beau bleu’ with ‘mignatures’ painted by Pithou ‘le jeune’ and ornamented with enamels by Parpette in December 1781.³¹
1. Illustrated by E. Gamier, ‘La Porcelaine Tendre de Sèvres’, Paris, s.d. (1889), repr. 1988, première livraison, pl. 2.
2. The author is grateful to Rosalind Savill for passing on this information, kindly communicated by Barbara Roberts of the Huntington Gallery, San Marino. In August 1990, with the kind assistance of Shelley Bennett and her staff, and David Cohen, the writer examined the vases. The transcription of the marks is hers.
3. Eriksen and Bellaigue, 1987, pp. 339-40.
4. Discussed by Savill, 1988, I, p. 451, p. 461, f.n. 5.
5. For a biography of Paris who worked at Vincennes from 1746, see Savill, 1988, III, p. 985. He was described in 1755 as “bon pour les grandes pièces”, see Eriksen, Svend, ‘Sèvres Porcelain, the James A. de Rothschild Collection at Waddesdon Manor’, Fribourg, 1968, p. 323.
6. See note 3.
7. The writer has not succeeded in tracing an example of this vase.
8. Brunet, Marcelle and Préaud, Tamara, ‘Sèvres, des origines à nos jours’, Fribourg, 1978, p. 213, fig. 266, pair, undated, first size, ‘beau bleu’, painted with flowers within a hexagonal reserve. Louvre loan, MNCS, inv. 15491.
9. T.P.P. Clifford, Some English Ceramic Vases and their Sources Part I, ‘ECC Trans.’ Vol. 10, part 3 (1978), pl. 82a. The ‘Suite des Vases . . .’ was published at Paris, 1760.
10. See Sotheby's, 13 November 1990, Lot 176, printed marks in blue, green and red.
11. Clifford, op. cit., p. 171.
13. Ibid., pl. 82b.
14. For an example exhibited at the 1862 exhibition and illustrated in the ‘Art Journal’, see G Godden, ‘Coalport and Coalbrookdale Porcelains’, London, 1970, fig. 231.
15. Known at Minton as “Vase with perforated chain handle”, it was shape no. 4 469. A drawing survives in the Minton Museum, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffs, Estimate Book, 01-01320, undated, H. 15½ inches. The author is grateful to Mrs Joan Jones of that museum for this information. A vase of this shape exhibited in the International Exhibition 1862 is shown by P. Atterbury and M. Batkin, ‘The Dictionary of Minton’, Woodbridge, 1990, p. 103. A pair measuring 41.8 cm decorated in Sèvres style with Morinesque harbour scenes on a blue ‘oeil de perdrix’ ground, sold Sotheby's Belgravia (London), 18 December 197 5, Lot 81; a pair measuring 37.5 cm in height with a turquoise blue ground painted with 'A Town Dog and a Country Dog at Home' sold Sotheby's, 23 June 1987, Lot 560. Another pair painted with mythological scenes on a dark blue ground measuring 40 cm in height was sold at Christie's, 2 June 1986, Lot 378.
16. Brunet and Preaud, 1978, p. 212, no. 265.
17. A. Troude, ‘Choix de modèles de la Manufacture Nationale de porcelaines de Sèvres appartenant au Musée céramique’, n.d. (1897), pl. 121.
18. Bellaigue, Geoffrey de, ‘Sèvres Porcelain in the Collection of Her Majesty the Queen: The Louis XVI Service’, Cambridge, 1986, no. 17; the engraving, pl. 51 in Publius Ovidius Naso, ‘Les Métamorphoses d'Ovide, en 'Latin et en François, de la Traduction de M. L’Abbé Banier’, 3 vols., Paris, 1767-71, is illustrated. An engraving by W. Walker after C. Monnet with an English title published by G. Kearsley, no. 46 Fleet Street, 1 August 1775, is in the Department of Prints and Drawings, British Museum, inv. 1817,1013.1260. It is in reverse to the scene painted on the vase.
19. Ibid. Nicolas-Pierre Pithouy ‘jeune’ (1750-1818) worked at the factory between 1759/60-7, 1768-95 and 1814-18. He was responsible for several important painted plaques, portrait and other figure subjects, for designs, an ‘écuelle’ form and watercolours. A detailed biography is given by Savill, 1988, III, pp. 1060-3.
20. Eriksen and Bellaigue, 1987, p. 340, quoting MNS, Archives de Sèvres, Vj'2, f. 220.
21. Ibid., see Wark, op. cit. (see Comparable Examples).
22. Savill, 1988, I, p. 462, f.n. 26.
23. Bouilliat père (1739/40-1810), a flower-painter, worked at Sèvres from 1758 and was recorded there in 1801. He died at Sèvres. In the 1780s he also painted allegories, attributes, monograms, birds, etc., see Savill, 1988, III, pp. 1002-4.
24. Savill, 1988, I, p. 438.
25. Savill, op. cit., p. 457.
26. For a biography of Parpette see Savill, 1988, III, pp. 1055-7.
27. See Savill, 1988, III, pp. 972-4 for a biography of Coteau; for his signature on a dial dated 1785 and another on a jewelled vase from the comte d'Artois' factory, see Musée du Louvre, 1985, p. 159, figs. 90d, e; for a further signature on the base of a Sèvres jewelled ‘vase Bachelier’ dated 1782 purchased by the comte and comtesse du Nord, now in the State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg, see P. Ennès, The Visit of the Comte and Comtesse du Nord to the Sèvres Manufactory, ‘Apollo’, March 1989, Vol. CXXIV, no. 325, p. 54, fig. 7.
28. The dies are discussed by T. Preaud in, Sèvres enamelled porcelain: eight dies (and a quarrel) rediscovered, ‘Burlington Magazine’, Vol. CXXVIII, no. 999, June 1986, pp. 391-7.
29. This substance has been analysed by Professor W.D. Kingery of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and found by emission spectrographic and electron microprobe analysis to be a typical lead-alkali-silicate flux to which 5% arsenic has been added as an opacifier and cobalt to produce the blue colour (presumably for aesthetic reasons). The author is grateful to Professor Kingery for allowing her to quote this information.
30. These may well be the three vases in the Wallace Collection, London, discussed by Savill, 1988, I, pp. 451-62.
31. MNS, Archives de Sèvres, Vj' 2, f. 210, and F 23, December 1781.
Literature: W. King, Two Sèvres Vases, ‘British Museum Quarterly’, X, no. 3, March 1936, p. 130, pl. XXXVIII; Honey, William B., ‘European Ceramic Art of the end of the Middle Ages to about 1815. An illustrated Historical Survey’, London, 1949, pl. 133; Honey, William B., ‘French Porcelain of the 18th Century’, London, 1950, pl. 77, p. 39; M. Olivar Daydi, ‘La Porcelana en Europa’, Barcelona, 1953, Vol. II, p. 171, fig. 5 3, left-hand vase; Savage, George, ‘Seventeenth and Eighteenth-Century French Porcelain’, London, 1960, pl. 54B; Tait, Hugh, ‘Porcelain’, London, 1962, pl. LII; T. Preaud, Sèvres enamelled porcelain: eight dies (and a quarrel) rediscovered, ‘Burlington Magazine’, Vol. CXXVIII, no. 999, June 1986, appendix 6, p. 397; Eriksen, Svend and de Bellaigue, Geoffrey, ‘Sèvres Porcelain: Vincennes and Sèvres 1740-1800’, London, 1987, p. 340; Savill, Rosalind, ‘The Wallace Collection, Catalogue of Sèvres Porcelain, London’, London, 1988, I, p. 458, p. 461, f.n. 5.
- On display (G47/dc1)
- Some losses of enamel and gold foil.
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- Charles Adeane, Babraham Hall, Cambridge, sold Christie's, 18 May 1916, Lot 64 to Duveen for £1050.
- Britain, Europe and Prehistory
- Registration number