These elegant vases relate to C.F. Sundvall's designs for porphyry vases, which were executed around 1788-1790, and to those by the Court ciseleur Fredrik Ludvig Rung of 1799 (H. Sundblom, Porfyr, Stockholm, 1985, p. 21). During the Empire period many items in porphyry were distributed throughout Europe as diplomatic presents by the King of Sweden, Maréchal Bernadotte, who reigned as Karl XIV Johann from 1818 to 1844, and whose family owned the porphyry mines. Whilst it is certainly conceivable that these vases may also have been diplomatic gifts to the Gladstone family, further vases were also sold by the Royal Family in 1856.
Porphyry was first discovered in Sweden at Alvdalen in 1731 but was not commercially exploited until after 1788 by Eric Hagstrvm under the direction of Nile Adam Bielke. The works were purchased by Bernadotte in 1818 and stayed in Royal ownership until 1856. Bernadotte used the production of primarily Empire objects in porphyry and related granite to disseminate the Empire style that he had brought from France. Production largely ceased following a disastrous fire in 1869 (H. Sundblom et al., Porfyr, Exhibition Catalogue, December 1985 - February 1986, p.31).