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A PAIR OF ITALIAN EGYPTIAN PORPHYRY TALL 'AMPHORA' TWO-HANDLED VASES AND COVERS ON GREEN THESSALY PORPHYRY BASES
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A PAIR OF ITALIAN EGYPTIAN PORPHYRY TALL 'AMPHORA' TWO-HANDLED VASES AND COVERS ON GREEN THESSALY PORPHYRY BASES

EARLY 19TH CENTURY

Details
A PAIR OF ITALIAN EGYPTIAN PORPHYRY TALL 'AMPHORA' TWO-HANDLED VASES AND COVERS ON GREEN THESSALY PORPHYRY BASES
EARLY 19TH CENTURY
Of Grecian amphora form, each with a removeable domed top with tapering bulbous finial, above a slender neck flanked by rectangular handles, the tapering body above a turned socle and square plinth, on a square base, lacking finials
20½ in. (52 cm.) high (2)
Provenance
The David Style Collection
Special notice

No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VAT at 15% will be added to the buyer's premium which is invoiced on a VAT inclusive basis.

Lot Essay

Krater vases with this rectilinear form of handle, were sketched in Rome by the architect Charles Heathcote Tatham (d. 1842) and collected in the years 1795 and 1796 for Henry Holland, architect to George, Prince of Wales, later George IV. They were noted as being amongst the "Various modern ornaments for Chimney Pieces etc.", chiefly worked in antique marbles of the rarest kind, and others found in excavations made at Rome (Tatham Album, sold Bloomsbury Book Auctions, 1 June 2000, lot 90).

A similar chimney garniture, comprising a pair of ornamental ormolu-mounted green porphyry vases - together with a central Imperial purple Egyptian porphyry central vase - was acquired by the Prince of Wales' close friend John Russell, 6th Duke of Bedford (d. 1839) for Woburn Abbey in Paris in 1803. Supplied by the marchand-mercier Martin-Eloi Lignereux, they are recorded in Lignereux's bill to the Duke of Bedford on 28 April 1803 and were sold, Christie's, London, 9th June 1994, lot 110.

While in Rome, Tatham also sketched a related long-necked marble vase as part of a candelabrum designed by the celebrated goldsmith bronze-founder Giuseppe Valadier (d.1839) (A. Gonzalez-Palacios, Il Tempio del Gusto, Milan, 1986, vol.1, p.136, vol.11, p.123, pl. 265).

The word porphyry is derived from the Greek word for purple and by far the best known is the distinctive Egyptian porphyry of which these vases are made. The quarries of porphyry in Upper Egypt were mined only until the mid-5th century, firstly by the Pharaohs and then by the Romans, during their occupation of the country. From then on all objects of Egyptian porphyry have been made re-using ancient pieces, such as fragments of columns. This porphyry is often referred to as 'Imperial' porphyry, as in the Roman period porphyry was reserved exclusively for the emperors, purple being the imperial colour. In medieval times it retained its allure, evidenced by works of art in the cathedral schatzkammern of Europe, where fragments of porphyry are to be found housed in other precious materials. The prime example of such is the Eagle Vase of Abbot Suger from the Treasury of St. Denis, now in the Louvre (see, for example, Philippe Malgouyres,"Porphyre, La Pierre Pourpre des Ptolémées aux Bonaparte", 2003, Exhibition Catalogue, the Louvre, 2003-2004, no. 17, pp. 84-86).

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