A RARE PAIR OF LATE LOUIS XV ORMOLU-MOUNTED CHINESE AUBERGINE-GLAZED PORCELAIN TWIN-HANDLED LOBED VASES
A RARE PAIR OF LATE LOUIS XV ORMOLU-MOUNTED CHINESE AUBERGINE-GLAZED PORCELAIN TWIN-HANDLED LOBED VASES
A RARE PAIR OF LATE LOUIS XV ORMOLU-MOUNTED CHINESE AUBERGINE-GLAZED PORCELAIN TWIN-HANDLED LOBED VASES
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A RARE PAIR OF LATE LOUIS XV ORMOLU-MOUNTED CHINESE AUBERGINE-GLAZED PORCELAIN TWIN-HANDLED LOBED VASES
4 More
These lots have been imported from outside the EU … Read more The Machault d’Arnouville ‘vases indiens’
A RARE PAIR OF LATE LOUIS XV ORMOLU-MOUNTED CHINESE AUBERGINE-GLAZED PORCELAIN TWIN-HANDLED LOBED VASES

THE MOUNTS ATTRIBUTED TO JEAN-CLAUDE CHAMBELLAN DUPLESSIS, CIRCA 1765, THE PORCELAIN 18TH CENTURY

Details
A RARE PAIR OF LATE LOUIS XV ORMOLU-MOUNTED CHINESE AUBERGINE-GLAZED PORCELAIN TWIN-HANDLED LOBED VASES
THE MOUNTS ATTRIBUTED TO JEAN-CLAUDE CHAMBELLAN DUPLESSIS, CIRCA 1765, THE PORCELAIN 18TH CENTURY
Each formed as a fluted oviform vase with stylised archaic kui dragon handles, the mouth mounted as a lozenge chased with a trellis ground and with acanthus leaves, extending to bifurcated scroll handles, and with bell-flowers to each side, the foot mounted with pierced rocaille scrolls and acanthus leaves
13 3/8 in. (34 cm.) high; 5 ½ in. (14 cm.) wide, approx.
Provenance
Almost certainly Jean-Baptiste de Machault d'Arnouville (1701-1794), Contrôleur Général des Finances, Garde des Sceaux, Secrétaire d'Etat à la Marine and by descent to his son
Charles-Henri-Louis de Machault d'Arnouville (1747-1830), Maréchal de Camp, who by his marriage in 1773 to Angélique de Baussen acquired the château de Thoiry;
Almost certainly by descent to Henriette de Machault d'Arnouville (1808-1864) who in 1826 married Léonce Melchior, Marquis de Vogüé (1805-1877), hôtel de Vogüé on rue Fabert, Paris.
Probably those recorded in an inventory of Léonce de Vogüé’s collection after his death in 1877, described as ‘numéro 21 deux vases de Chines violacés montés ‘ and also visible in an undated photograph of the hôtel de Vogüé on rue Fabert.
Thence by descent until acquired by the present owner.
Special notice

These lots have been imported from outside the EU for sale using a Temporary Import regime. Import VAT is payable (at 5%) on the Hammer price. VAT is also payable (at 20%) on the buyer’s Premium on a VAT inclusive basis. When a buyer of such a lot has registered an EU address but wishes to export the lot or complete the import into another EU country, he must advise Christie's immediately after the auction.

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Lot Essay

These rare and beautiful vases have a fascinating history that offers a tantalising link to one of the most fabled collections of the 18th Century, that of Jean-Baptiste de Machault d’Arnouville (1701-1794), at one time one of the most powerful men at the court of Louis XV and a close confidante of Madame de Pompadour. The porcelain bodies feature a striking and unusual purple glaze usually only used for pictorial details such as clothing by Chinese potters, while the sumptuous rocaille mounts can be attributed to Jean-Claude Chambellan Duplessis, one of the most innovative and artistic bronziers of the period.

THE POSSIBLE MACHAULT D’ARNOUVILLE PROVENANCE
The vases are clearly visible in a previously unpublished late 19th-century photograph of the interior of the hôtel on rue Fabert built for Léonce Melchior de Vogüé in 1867, and are also probably those described in an inventory taken after his death in 1877 as ‘numéro 21 deux vases de Chines violacés montés prisés 500 francs’. Although Vogüé also inherited a fabulous collection from his own family, many of the furnishings of rue Fabert can be traced directly back to Machault d’Arnouville, as Vogüé’s wife Henriette, Machault’s great-granddaughter, had inherited a sizable part of his collection including the contents of the château de Thoiry, to which much of the furnishings of Machault’s château d’Arnouville were transferred by his son Charles. Among the Machault pieces recorded at the rue Fabert are the celebrated Boulle marquetry armoire from the hôtel de Machault on rue du Grand Chantier (acquired directly from the Vogüé family in 1959 and now in Versailles), an extraordinary Boulle marquetry commode by BVRB I made for Machault d’Arnouville’s father, and a Chinese celadon porcelain vase with mounts by Duplessis, given to Machault by Madame de Pompadour and installed by him in his bedroom at the château d’Arnouville, recently sold at Sotheby’s, Paris (23 June 2004, lot 58, €1,520,000; see V. Pruchnicki, Arnouville Le Château des Machault au XVIIIe Siècle, Paris, 2013, pp. 44-8).
These vases, uniting a rare Chinese porcelain glaze with jewel-like mounts, accord perfectly with Machault’s taste for exotic mounted porcelain, a taste no doubt encouraged by his close links to Madame de Pompadour, whose passion for Chinese porcelain and lacquer is well recorded.

THE CHINESE GLAZE
It is very rare to find vases glazed overall in this aubergine or purple tone, a colour which is more often seen in small portions as part of famille rose or doucai decoration on 18th-century Chinese porcelain. Compare this glaze to the shades of aubergine or purple utilised to depict floral blooms on a doucai box and cover in the collection of the Palace Museum in Beijing, The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum 38 Porcelains in Polychrome and Contrasting Colours, Hong Kong, 1999, p. 234, pl. 215.

THE LINK TO SEVRES
Other fascinating details specific to these vases make a link to Machault even more likely. Like Madame de Pompadour, Machault was equally passionate about the porcelain produced in the newly created manufactory at Vincennes and subsequently Sèvres. As Contrôleur Général des Finances from 1745-1754, Machault oversaw the royal porcelain factory, and indeed it is recorded that for several years he would receive a special annual present from the factory (Pruchnicki, op. cit., p. 77). It is therefore fascinating to discover that a plaster model exists in the Sèvres archives of exactly the same model as these Chinese vases, described as a ‘vase indien’ (‘indien’ was interestingly also a term used in the 18th Century for a violet/purple colour). As the handles on the plaster model at Sèvres are still filled in and not pierced as on these vases, it is tempting to think that Machault might have asked Sèvres to take a cast from his vases (which have mounts attributed to Duplessis, chief designer and sculptor at the factory) to create versions at Sèvres of ‘Chinese’ porcelain. There is certainly precedent for special clients of Sèvres requesting the factory to create special models for them and even providing them with design ideas. In 1774 Sèvres created a ‘Vase Japon’ for Henri Bertin, then Secretary of State (among his specific responsibilities was the Compagnie des Indes), which was derived from a print he owned of an archaic Chinese bronze, part of a catalogue of works of art in the Imperial Chinese collection created for the Emperor Qianlong. This Sèvres ‘Vase Japon’ is now in the Frick Collection, New York (acquired in honour of Anne Poulet, 2011). Moreover, a small group of porcelain with aubergine glaze was created at Sèvres in the 1760s, evidently imitating Chinese wares, including two garnitures of vases made in 1768 for none other than Bertin (now at Chatsworth) and as a royal gift to Machault himself (now in a private collection), while a further aubergine-glazed Sèvres garniture was recently on the market with two side vases of the same form as the Chinese vases offered here, but with the handles removed to accommodate later mounts from the 1780s (illustrated here and sold Christie’s, New York, 21 October 2014, lot 190). It is therefore tempting to conclude that through these vases (their mounts supplied by the main sculpteur and designer at Sèvres, Duplessis), Machault d’Arnouville provided Sèvres with the prototype for this fascinating group of wares in imitation of Chinese porcelain.

JEAN-BAPTISTE DE MACHAULT D’ARNOUVILLE (1701-1794)
Jean-Baptiste de Machault d’Arnouville, the youngest son of the chief of police, Louis-Charles de Machault, had a glittering political career. He attained important political posts in his 20s, rapidly ascending to his appointment in 1743 as Secrétaire d’Etat à la Guerre and then in 1745 as Contrôleur Général des Finances, at a time when France’s finances were severely depleted. To raise revenues he imposed a blanket series of new taxes, which incurred the wrath not only of the regional governors but also of the Church, which cast him in a favourable light with Madame de Pompadour, Louis XV’s celebrated favourite mistress, who was constantly trying to coax the king away from being too devout, which of course threatened her position. Machault’s close ties to Madame de Pompadour, a passionate collector of the arts, must have inspired his own collecting as he furnished the château d’Arnouville and the Parisian hôtel on the rue du Grand Chantier, which he had inherited from his father.
Remarkably, Machault strengthened his position further by being appointed Garde des Sceaux in 1750 - as he continued to be Louis XV’s chief finance minister and could count on Madame de Pompadour’s continued support, he was arguably now the most powerful man in France, with his annual income an enormous 400,000 livres. He furnished both the château d'Arnouville and his hotel on the rue du Grand Chantier in the latest taste, using the best dealers such as Thomas-Joachim Hébert, with dazzling mounted porcelains, lacquer furniture by BVRB, bronzes by Susini, silver by François-Thomas-Germain and a remarkable assemblage of Boulle furniture. Machault fell out of favour with Madame de Pompadour in 1757 and he was forced to retire from court life, although the collection was still added to after his retirement, as he continued to receive annual gifts from Sèvres until 1768 (the year he also received the aubergine-glazed garniture from the king mentioned above).


THE ATTRIBUTION OF THE MOUNTS TO DUPLESSIS
The tightly controlled fluidity of the ‘rocaille symmetrisé’ displayed by the beautifully chased mounts of these vases point to the oeuvre of Jean-Claude Chambellan Duplessis (1699-1774), a presiding artistic genius of the Louis XV period who was not only orfèvre du roi but also artistic director of the Vincennes and Sèvres porcelain factories. Interestingly, one of the few examples of work in gilt-bronze that can be securely attributed to him is an extraordinary pair of braziers, commissioned as a diplomatic gift to the Turkish Ambassador by Machault d’Arnouville (one of which is now in the Topkapi Museum, Instanbul), showing how early in his career Machault established links with the great sculpteur and bronzier. The tight control of the symmetrical scrolls on these mounts is typical of the ornamental vocabulary Duplessis developed at Vincennes and Sèvres, and bases with scrolling feet joined by a central foliate motif are frequently seen on the vases produced there from circa 1755-1765, such as on the famous vase ‘pot pourri à vaisseau’ or the vase ‘à la tête d’éléphant’ (R. Savill, The Wallace Collection Catalogue of Sèvres Porcelain: Vases, London, 1988, vol. II, pp. 166 and 194). Other gilt-bronze bases attributed to Duplessis of similarly symmetrical rocaille form include that on a Chinese bamboo-form porcelain vase in the Royal Collection and the base for a bronze group also by Duplessis in the Wallace Collection (G. Sadde, 'Jean-Claude Duplessis, La Liberté du Style Rocaille', L'Estampille L'Objet d'Art, no. 392, June 2004, pp. 46 and 51).

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