With Bacchic serpents guarding these poetic-laurelled wine-krater urns and rising from festive reed-tied masks of the wine-deity clad in lion-pelts, these princely vases relate to goût Grec prototypes designed by architects and ornemanistes such as Jean-Guillaume Moitte (d.1810), Ennemond Alexandre Petitot (who published an influential series of designs in 1764) and the sculptor/bronze-founder Jean-Louis Prieur (d.1792), author of Principes de Dessin, 1783.
A serpent-handled vase of closely related character and displaying the unusual feature of the serpents resting upon the shoulder of the vase featured amongst Jean-Louis Prieur's designs for the Royal Palace in Warsaw, executed for King Stanislas-Auguste Poniatowski, King of Poland between 1766 and the early 1770s (illustrated here).
The impressive vases offered here reflect the passion for rare stones among connoisseur collectors in the 1760s and 1770s such as Louis-Marie Augustin, duc d'Aumont, who established a stonecutting workshop at the Menus Plaisirs, employing the celebrated bronzier Pierre Gouthière to supply mounts for precious hardstones and Randon de Boisset, whose legendary sale in 1777 included a pair of vases of breccia Africano marble with snake handles and Bacchic rams' masks, later sold Christie's, King Street, 10 July 2014, lot 110 (£340,000 exc. premium, illustrated here). The mounts for the Randon de Boisset vases, along with a further related snake-handled vase with body in Egyptian porphyry, supplied by the marchand-mercier Thomas-Joachim Hébert to Blondel de Gagny circa 1766 (now in the Wallace Collection, London), have been attributed to the Robert-Joseph Auguste, sculpteur et orfèvre royal to Louis XV.