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A LOUIS XVI ORMOLU-MOUNTED CHINESE PORCELAIN AND RED GRIOTTE MARBLE VASE
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A LOUIS XVI ORMOLU-MOUNTED CHINESE PORCELAIN AND RED GRIOTTE MARBLE VASE

THE MOUNTS ATTRIBUTED TO PIERRE-PHILIPPE THOMIRE, THE PORCELAIN QIANLONG AND MID-18TH CENTURY

Details
A LOUIS XVI ORMOLU-MOUNTED CHINESE PORCELAIN AND RED GRIOTTE MARBLE VASE
The mounts attributed to Pierre-Philippe Thomire, the porcelain Qianlong and mid-18th Century
The gadrooned rim interspersed with wheatsheaves, the glazed ovoid porcelain body with four fluted supports with satyr-mask terminals swagged with fruiting vibes, the base with an oak and acorn border above a gadrooned base with berried boss, the downswept fluted legs with pieds de bîche, on an eared circular red griotte marble plinth inset with milles raies panels and a central berried sunflower, on moulded bun feet, the porcelain body with old restorations, the berried finial boss originally with a foliate cup immedialtely above it, the berried sunflower inset to the centre of the plinth replaced, the milles-raies sunk-panel to the base probably originally with a pearled border mount as on the Getty vase (see below)
38½in. (98cm.) high; 27½in. (70cm.) wide
Provenance
The collection of Madame Vigier, sold in Paris, Palais Galliéra, 2-3 June 1970, lot 82.
Acquired from Aveline, Paris.
Literature
D.E. Lunsingh Scheurleer, Chinesisches und Japanisches Porzellan in europäischen Fassungen, 1980, p.308, p.308, no. 275.
F.J.B. Watson and G. Wilson, Mounted Oriental Porcelain in the J. Paul Getty Museum, Malibu, 1982, 17, pp.77-91.
H. Ottomeyer, P. Pröschel et al., Vergoldete Bronzen, Munich, 1986, vol.1, p.269.
G. de Bellaigue, 'Carlton House - The Past Glories of George IV's Palace', Exhibition Catalogue, London, 1991, p.97.
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Lot Essay

Pierre-Philippe Thomire, 1751-1843.

This magnificent vase, one of only three known examples, is amongst the largest and most ambitious pieces of ormolu-mounted porcelain executed in the 18th Century. Possibly originally from a set of four, the other two are divided between the English Royal Collection at Windsor Castle and the J. Paul Getty Museum in California (70D1 115). Both of these latter vases have a tantalisingly illustrious provenance, but frustratingly do not as yet shed any light on the original commission of circa 1780.

The earliest documentary evidence for this model of vase is for that in in the Royal Collection at Windsor Castle (H. Roberts, For the King's Pleasure, London, 2001, fig.149, fig. 192, fig.200). This was acquired by George, Prince of Wales, the Prince Regent and later King George IV for Carlton House, London. Although formerly identified with an entry in Jutsham's Inventory in 1812 - A Blue Seve (sic) porcelain Vase mounted on an Or Molou Pedestal ornamented with wreaths. The China Vase is ornamented with Centaurs in Or Molou. 2 feet 6 inches high - subsequent research has revealed that this reference does in fact refer to another vase in the Royal Collection (de Bellaigue, op. cit., p.97). It must, however, have been acquired some time before then, as it was raised on a giltwood pedestal probably supplied by Messrs. Tatham, Bailey and Saunders circa 1811. Initially placed in the Rose Satin Drawing Room at Carlton House, it is clearly visible in Charles Wild's watercolour of circa 1817. This view was subsequently published by William Henry Pyne (1769-1834) in his Royal Residences of 1819, where he draws attention to the 'beautiful porcelain vase, surmounted, in or-moulu, with Satyrs' heads' (p.32). In October 1813 it was sent to Charles Brandt for cleaning and some time after 1818 it was moved to the Bow Basement Floor. Following the demolition of Carlton House, the vase was subsequently destined for use at Windsor Castle, where it can be seen in a watercolour design for 'Room 207, East Elevation' by the office of Messrs. Morel and Seddon, circa 1826. In 1828 it was despatched to Nicholas Morel for restoration, when the mounts of the vase were in part regilded.


The second vase, now in the J. Paul Getty Museum (G. Wilson and C. Hess, Summary Catalogue of European Decorative Arts in the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, 2001, no.277, p.137), was acquired by the dealers Rosenberg and Stiebel from Count Alfred Potocki. It is reputed to have been bought after 1793 at the Revolutionary sales by Princess Isabella Lubomirska, who after the death of her husband in 1783, spent much time in Paris and became an intimate friend of Marie-Antoinette. She returned to her Polish estates at Lancut, and the vase descended through her family to Count Alfred, her great-great-grandson. While there is no documentary evidence to prove that the vase was acquired at the Revolutionary sales, it is certainly true that the Princess' ties with France and its Royal family were strong. As P. Verlet quotes in French Royal Furniture, Paris, 1963, p.69:"..during the Directory, the Princess Potocki bought twenty coachloads of furniture in Paris for their castles in Poland. The dealers assured them, rightly or wrongly, that it all came from Versailles..." However, research by Christian Baulez reveals that the name of Potocki does not appear in the lists of buyers at the Revolutionary sales, nor is the name found among similar lists of buyers of objects excluded from the public sales. That Princess Isabella Lubomirska had a highly sophisticated taste for luxurious French furniture is confirmed by the Sèvres-porcelain mounted table à café that she acquired for Lancut at around this time, which was sold from the Riahi Collection, Christie's New York, 2 November 2000, lot 10.


THE ATTRIBUTION TO THOMIRE

Although the mounts have traditionally and variously been attributed to both Pierre-Philippe Thomire and Pierre Gouthière, as G. Wilson has argued (ibid., p.77), the style of this vase conforms more closely to the early work of Thomire. The swags of the vine leaves and grapes closely resemble those found decorating the sides of a porphry urn on a stand, attributed to Thomire, in the Wrightsman Collection in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (F.J.B. Watson, The Wrightsman Collection, vol. III, New York, 1970, no.306, pp.70-74). Other mounts on the Wrightsman vase can be directly compared with documented works by Thomire. As Wilson concluded, 'the band of oak leaves and acorns around the base of the column is similar in design to that found on two mounted Sèvres vases made by Thomire in 1783 and 1784. Each of these vases is set in a cup of leaves that are of comparable form to those found at the base the Wrightsman porphyry urn. The ribbed and flatterned horns, there springing from goats' heads, may also be compared with the curling horns on the Getty (model of) vase. In turn, these goats' heads are almost identical to those found on a Sèvres vase dated 1814 in the Wellington Museum at Apsley House, London. These last heads were modeled by Thomire, and the surviving document shows that he was paid 85 Francs for the work. By reference therefore it is possible to attribute the mounts of the Getty Museum (model of) vase to Thomire'.


PIERRE-PHILIPPE THOMIRE (1751-1843)

Pierre-Philippe Thomire, amongst the most celebrated bronzier-ciseleurs of the Neoclassic period, was born into a family of ciseleurs. He worked initially for the renowned bronziers Pierre Gouthiére (1732-1813) and Jean-Louis Prieur (d.circa 1785-1790), ciseleur-doreur du roi, and quickly established a reputation for finely chased gilt-bronze. Thomire was responsible for designing and fitting ormolu mounts at the Sèvres factory after Duplessis's death in 1783 and he frequently collaborated with the marchand-mercier Dominique Daguerre.
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