• 500 Years Decorative Arts Euro auction at Christies

    Sale 2305

    500 Years Decorative Arts Europe Including Oriental Carpets

    20 April 2010, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 98

    A PAIR OF ITALIAN PORPHYRY VASES

    POSSIBLY 19TH CENTURY

    Price Realised  

    A PAIR OF ITALIAN PORPHYRY VASES
    POSSIBLY 19TH CENTURY
    EACH SPIRALLY-TWISTED BODY WITH SATYR MASKS TO EITHER SIDE
    12¾ IN. (32.5 CM.) HIGH (2)


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    PORPHYRY HAS BEEN PRIZED SINCE ANTIQUITY FOR ITS LUSTROUS COLOUR (THE WORD DERIVES FROM THE GREEK FOR PURPLE) AND REMARKABLE HARDNESS. ONLY MINED AT MONS PORPHYRIUS IN EGYPT, THE ROMANS IMPORTED PORPHYRY IN GREAT QUANTITIES FROM ANCIENT EGYPT, USING IT BOTH IN ARCHITECTURAL SCHEMES AND TO CARVE PORTRAIT BUSTS. ITS RICH PURPLE COLOR, THE IMPERIAL SYMBOL OF POWER, WAS NO DOUBT OF SPECIAL SIGNIFICANCE IN ANCIENT ROME. WITH THE REDISCOVERY OF CLASSICAL ROME IN THE RENAISSANCE PERIOD, THE POTENT SYMBOLISM OF PORPHYRY WAS PRIZED ONCE AGAIN, AND IT WAS AVIDLY COLLECTED BY POWERFUL FIGURES SUCH AS THE MEDICIS, LOUIS XIV (WHO HAD A BUYING AGENT IN ROME FOR HIS ACQUISITIONS), AND THE CARDINALS DE RICHELIEU AND MAZARIN.