The present pair of vases and stands epitmize the ‘néo-grec’ style, which developed as a result of a resurgence in the discovery of and interest in antiquities and the Antique, beginning in the Second Empire under Napoleon III and Empress Eugénie. It was initially spurred by the excavations of Pompeii beginning in 1848 and was further popularized by the Louvre’s acquisition of part of the Marquis Campana’s collection in 1861. Ancient Greek influences are evident in the handles of the vases, which recall ancient creations such as the Warwick vase, while the stands are derived from Antique tripods often used for sacrifices and offerings.
The enamelled ribbon bands to the vases are styled in the Byzantine arabesque manner, inspired by illuminated manuscripts and which coincided with an interest in the ancient past. The Barbedienne foundry was a pioneer of the champlevé enamel technique in the second-half of the nineteeth century, first showcasing their foray into Byzantine motifs at the 1862 International Exhibition, London. Their dominance in enamelled works coincided directly at a time when a desire for polychromy in the arts was developing, and the enamels of Barbedienne caused a sensation; vases in the present Byzantine style were particularly popular, and there are now examples in the Cleveland Museum of Art (inv. 1996.295) and the musée d'Orsay (inv. OAO 1296 1) (see F. Rionnet, Les Bronzes Barbedienne: L’oeuvre d’une dynastie de fondeurs, Paris, 2016, pp. 83-84).