- Museum number
Vase and Cover ('vase urne Pompadour'); soft-paste porcelain; circular domed foot attached (rather roughly, as visible on the inside of the foot) to the ovoid body, which is surmounted by a domed cover with flower finial, decorated in uneven underglaze-blue ('bleu lapis') with gilded birds in elaborate rococo reserves; on one side cormorants catching fish in the midst of watery plants, on the other a hen on the nest with cockerel beside her plus elaborate scrolls, fantastic birds and basket of flowers all carefully tooled; scrolled decoration on the foot is repeated on the cover; finely formed carnation finial, consisting of two flowers and several leaves, partly gilded; gilt dentil rims and foot.
- Production date
- 1752 (circa)
Diameter: 10.10 centimetres (base)
Height: 23.40 centimetres (total)
- Curator's comments
- Dawson 1994
Although magnificently decorated, the vase shows several defects of manufacture attesting to its early date, such as the presence of firecracks on the base and shoulder inside the vase and roughness inside the foot where it is attached to the body. For the introduction of the ‘bleu lapis’ ground, see reg. no. 1923,0314.162. The vase is likely to have been completed before 1753 when the date-letter system was introduced, but not before 1 October 175 2.(1)
Jean-Claude Duplessis (employed at the factory 1748-74), an Italian whose real name was Ciamberlano, who had come to France in about 1740 and is principally known for his bronzes - he was created ‘orfèvre du Roi’ in 1758 - probably designed this shape, achieved by throwing and turning. He is thought to have joined the Vincennes factory in 1748. The shape is more generally found as a ‘pot-pourri’ with pierced holes of rococo design in the shoulder and cover. It is possible that this was an early version of the ‘pot-pourri’ and is purely ornamental. Like many other Vincennes and Sèvres vase shapes, it appears to have no prototype and to be purely original.
The vase is known to have been in production at least as early as late 1751 or early 175 2, on the evidence of a vase of the first size sold to Lazare Duvaux in March 1753 and fired in the 68th enamel firing.(2)
It was made in four sizes, the most popular decorative scheme being ‘bleu lapis’ and gold. Prices varied according to the richness of the decor; Monsieur Machard (Machault ?) was prepared to pay no less than 180 ‘livres’ each for two examples of the fourth size on 5 May 1753,(3) although they were sold for 120 ‘livres’ at other times during the same year, and even for 84 ‘livres’ at the end of 1754.(4) On the evidence of ‘pots-pourris’ of the same form, this example is probably the fourth size, the first or largest measuring 43 cm in height. It has not been possible to trace the sale of this vase since at least fourteen are recorded between 175 3-4.
(1) Antoine d'Albis does not believe that the factory was capable of producing decoration of this quality before October 1752 (private correspondence, 1991).
(2) MNS, Archives de Sèvres, Vy 1, f. 8.
(3) MNS, Archives de Sèvres, Vy 1, f. 11v.
(4) Ibid., Vy 1, f. 54V.
1) Christie's, 9-17 May 1895, Lot 478, Mrs Lyne Stephens Collection (bought by Stettiner for £267- 15 s).
2) Christie's, 28 October 1963, Lot 147. The unusual cartouche is closely paralleled on an undated circular chamber pot with the same ground-colour in the Musée Jacquemart-André, Paris (Brunet, Marcelle and Préaud, Tamara, ‘Sèvres, des origines à nos jours’, Fribourg, 1978, no. 44)
3) Germany, Düsseldorf, Hetjens Museum, inv. 1941/101, illus. A. Klein, ‘Europaïsches Porzellan im Hetjens Museum, Düsseldorf’, 1966, no. 248 (without cover). This example has been examined and is considered to be later decorated.
4) USA, formerly Prof. Plumb Collection, Cambridge (perhaps the example sold at Christie's, 1963).
Literature: Franks, Sir Augustus Wollaston, ‘Catalogue of a Collection of Continental Porcelain’, London, 1896, no. 377; Chaffers, William, ‘The New Keramik Gallery’, London, 1926, Vol. II, p. 361, fig. 328; King, William, Vincennes Porcelain in the British Museum – I, ‘Apollo’, Vol. XII, no. 70, October 1930, pp. 280-4, fig. VII; King, William, Etude anglaise sur les porcelaines de Vincennes, ‘Bulletin de la Société des Amis de Vincennes’, March 1939, no. 15, pp. 194-6, fig. 7 (cover); Honey, William B., ‘French Porcelain of the 18th Century’, London, 1950, pl. 62A; Tait, Hugh, ‘Porcelain’, London, 1962, revised ed. 1972, fig. 19; L.B. Hunt, Gold in the Pottery Industry. The History and Technology of Gilding Processes, ‘Gold Bulletin’, Vol. 12, no. 3, July 1979, p. 120; L.B. Hunt, The Gilding of European Porcelain, ‘Connoisseur’, Vol. 204, no. 820, June 1980, p. 109.
- On display (G46/dc17)
- Cover restored; a few firecracks are visible inside the vase on the flat base.
- Acquisition date
- Britain, Europe and Prehistory
- Registration number