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A PAIR OF LOUIS XV ORMOLU-MOUNTED CHINESE FAMILLE ROSE VASES AND COVERS
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A PAIR OF LOUIS XV ORMOLU-MOUNTED CHINESE FAMILLE ROSE VASES AND COVERS

THE MOUNTS CIRCA 1740, THE PORCELAIN QIANLONG (1736-95)

Details
A PAIR OF LOUIS XV ORMOLU-MOUNTED CHINESE FAMILLE ROSE VASES AND COVERS
THE MOUNTS CIRCA 1740, THE PORCELAIN QIANLONG (1736-95)
Each cover with berried finial above an inverted collar and foliate-cast shoulders, with twin acanthus and foliate-cast handles and a spreading foot, the bodies with four large reserves decorated with floral sprays interspersed with small polychrome roundels, on a café-au-lait ground
11¾ in. (30 cm.) high (2)
Provenance
Anonymous sale; Sotheby's London, 14 June 1996, lot 30.
Literature
D. Langeois, et al., Quelques Chefs d'Oeuvres de la Collection Djahanguir Riahi, Milan, 1999, pp. 80-81.
Special Notice

VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price and at 20% on the buyer's premium.

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Lot Essay

The fascination of the French with oriental works of art was given new impetus with the visit of the ambassador of Siam to the court of Louis XIV in 1684 (H. Belevitch-Stankevitch, Le Goût Chinois en France au temps de Louis XIV, 1910). Initially taste favoured blue and white porcelain - most of the 380 Chinese pieces recorded in the 1689 inventory of the Grand Dauphin's property were blue and white - later, however, celadon porcelain and polychrome enamels became more popular. The fashion for transforming such exotic and expensive Chinese porcelain into true 'objets de luxe' with the addition of rich gilt-bronze mounts reached its zenith through the activities of marchands-mercier such as Lazare Duvaux. The popularity for mounting porcelain became such that eventually the cost of the mounts began to outrun the value of the porcelain which it adorned. The Livre-Journal of Duvaux for 1751 notes that Madame de Pompadour paid the extraordinary sum of 1,680 Livres for a pair of ormolu-mounted celadon ewers. The detail with which such rich objects were described in contemporary sale catalogues during the second half of the 18th Century, in contrast to the more generalised descriptions of (unmounted) Chinese porcelain found in earlier inventories, demonstrates the regard in which such objects were held. Moreover, vases, pots and ornaments were manufactured with the specific intention of being mounted in contrast with earlier examples which were usually everyday objects such as tobacco jars, as with the present vases, which have been cut at the shoulder, with the separated upper section and small lid forming the new wider cover with bronze rims and finials.

The combination of the fairly restrained mounts to the rim of the lid, to the shoulder and the foot of each vase, and the contrasting florid and scrolling movement of their handles is typical of objects dating to the early years of the reign of Louis XV, when the sober forms of the Régence, inherited from those that predominated under Louis XIV, gave way to the emergence of the more naturalistic style that would be known as the 'Rococo'. A virtually identical pair of vases belonging to the Earls of Meath is illustrated in the drawing room at Kilruddery House, Co. Wicklow, Ireland (The Knight of Glin and J. Peill, The Irish Country House, London, 2010, p. 36). Two further pairs of vases struck with the C Couronné poinçon, with almost identical finials, shoulder and base mounts, though with dragon handles, and formed of very closely related café-au-lait ground porcelain with reserves of prunus and peonies though with slightly domed upper lids, were offered for sale at Sotheby's New York: one pair on 6 November 2008, lot 71; the other pair sold on 18 November 2010, lot 202. The finial, shoulder and lower mounts adorning these three pairs of vases are also closely related to those on a pair of vases and covers with mermaid handles, previously in the Florence J. Gould Collection, then the Keck Collection and sold at Sotheby's New York, 5-6 December 1991, lot 10. This latter pair is identical to a pair previously from the Château de Saint-Cloud, which are now in the Louvre. All of these pairs of vases and covers display decorative motifs which epitomise the 'Transitional' style between Louis XIV and the rococo.

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