This beautiful ormolu-mounted objet d'art, comprising a 'petite' French-fashioned perfume cassolette, may have been created under the direction of the connoisseur and author William Beckford (d. 1844), famed as 'caliph' of Fonthill Abbey, Wiltshire. Beckford's name features in Messrs Vulliamy's accounts dated 1803, when they were having some lacquer tablets mounted in similar manner for a secretaire, designed in the Grecian manner of J.-J. Boileau. Amongst the firms they employed for fine metalwork was that of the Parisian bronze maker Delafontaine of rue St. Honoré (See H. Roberts, 'Beckford, Vulliamy and Old Japan', Apollo, October 1986, p.338-341).
The Chinese earthen coloured pot evokes Love's Ver Perpetuum of Everlasting Spring with polychromed and never-fading flowers framed in flowered and foliated compartments; while its domed and antique-fluted lid is heraldically 'labelled' by golden 'Beckford' lilies. Presented as a loving-cup, with triumphal palm-wreathed handles tied by a laurel-wreath, it stands on a hollow-sided and palm-wreathed 'altar' plinth. Like some of Beckford's related objets d'art it may have been designed with assistance from Beckford's companion Gregorio Franchi (d.1825). The quality of its ormolu is typical of the Pall Mall firm of Vulliamy & Son, which was headed by the Royal Clockmaker Benjamin Vulliamy (d.1811) assisted by his son Benjamin Lewis Vulliamy (d.1854). Some of Beckford's related ormolu-mounted Chinese porcelain is now displayed at Charlecote, Warwickshire (see C. Wainwright, The Romantic Interior, London, 1989, p. 238: and D. Ostergard (ed.) Beckford: An Eye for the Maginificent, New Haven and London, p. 344-346, nos. 64-67).