A PAIR OF LOUIS XVI ORMOLU-MOUNTED SEVRES 'FOND ECAILLE' PORCELAIN VASES
A PAIR OF LOUIS XVI ORMOLU-MOUNTED SEVRES 'FOND ECAILLE' PORCELAIN VASES
A PAIR OF LOUIS XVI ORMOLU-MOUNTED SEVRES 'FOND ECAILLE' PORCELAIN VASES
2 More
These lots have been imported from outside the EU … Read more A pair of Sèvres ‘fond écaille’ ‘vases sirènes’
A PAIR OF LOUIS XVI ORMOLU-MOUNTED SEVRES 'FOND ECAILLE' PORCELAIN VASES

THE MOUNTS ATTRIBUTED TO PIERRE-PHILIPPE THOMIRE, CIRCA 1785, ALMOST CERTAINLY COMMISSIONED BY DOMINIQUE DAGUERRE

Details
A PAIR OF LOUIS XVI ORMOLU-MOUNTED SEVRES 'FOND ECAILLE' PORCELAIN VASES
THE MOUNTS ATTRIBUTED TO PIERRE-PHILIPPE THOMIRE, CIRCA 1785, ALMOST CERTAINLY COMMISSIONED BY DOMINIQUE DAGUERRE
Each porcelain body and socle mottled to imitate tortoiseshell, surmounted by perched figures of mermaids kneeling and leaning on a stiff-leaf and pearled rim, with berried laurel at the base, on a foliate-capped socle with oak-and-acorn foot and on a square base, previously but not originally with further ormolu plinth
10 ¾ in. (27 cm.) high
Provenance
The Karl Lagerfeld Collection; sold Christie's, Monaco, 29 April 2000, lot 305.
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.

Brought to you by

Amelia Walker
Amelia Walker

Check the condition report or get in touch for additional information about this

If you wish to view the condition report of this lot, please sign in to your account.

Sign in
View condition report

Lot Essay

These beautiful vases are from the earliest phase of the rare ‘fond écaille’’ glaze developed at the Sèvres manufactory in the 1780s, which imitates the lustrous mottled golden brown of tortoiseshell. The exotic marine theme is continued by the finely modelled ormolu fish-tailed nymphs, or ‘sirènes’, forming the handles.

PIERRE-PHILIPPE THOMIRE
The mounts can be firmly attributed to the celebrated bronzier Pierre-Philippe Thomire (1751-1843) who, following the death of Jean-Claude-Thomas Duplessis (fils) in 1783, was responsible for the fitting and design of gilt-bronzes for the Sèvres factory. The Sèvres factory listed a number of wares with mounts by Thomire produced in 1783 and 1784 which included a ‘Garniture… à petite femme, en queue de poissons’ ordered on 26 January 1784 and priced at 500 livres, and on 20 September 1784 a garniture with ‘…satyres, fond écaille, dorée au mat’, priced at 1,000 livres. The fact that the two principal elements of the vase offered here are detailed in these bills, the fish-tailed nymphs and a garniture with ‘fond écaille’, both confirms the attribution of the mounts to Thomire and dates these vases quite precisely to this period of production (Cte X. de Chavagnac and M. de Grollier, Histoire de Manufactures Françaises de Porcelaine, Paris, 1906).

VASES 'SIRENES'
Vases ‘sirènes’ were produced in the Sèvres factory purely in porcelain as early as 1776, when Le Guay and Vincent were paid 36 livres each for gilding examples of the model. An undated blue-ground example in the Wallace Collection (C333) is attributed to Josse-François-Joseph Le Riche, while the Sèvres plaster model is also illustrated here (R. Savill, The Wallace Collection Catalogue of Sèvres Porcelain, London, 1988, vol. I, pp. 447-450). The sinuous, exotic figures would have been particularly appropriate in the Cabinets Turcs that were so fashionable in the 1780s, and Savill cites a garniture recorded in the Salon Turc of Madame Elisabeth’s house in the Avenue de Paris in 1783 which probably included ‘vases sirènes’ (ibid., p. 447). A further related pair of vases of circa 1785, with seated mermaid handles and brown-black Sèvres porcelain bodies in imitation of lacquer, is in the Royal Collection and was originally displayed at Carlton House by George IV (J. Gwilt, French Porcelain for English Palaces, exh. cat., London, 2009, pp. 114-5).

A possible design source for the 'vase sirène' could also be a drawing of circa 1775-1780 for a silver ewer with a similar mermaid handle, attributed to the influential silversmith Robert-Joseph Auguste, in the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles (illustrated below; G. Wilson, 'Acquisitions made by the Department of Decorative Arts, 1979-mid-1980', The J. Paul Getty Museum Journal, 8, 1980, p. 13, fig. 20).

VASE A MONTER DAGUERRE
The basic urn-shaped form of the vase, with flattened neck below the lip, derives from a group of three drawings for a vase à monter, specifically designed to be mounted with ormolu, dating from the early 1780s and preserved in the Sèvres Archives. The first is a commission in 1782 for the marchand-mercier Dominique Daguerre (d. 1796) requesting an urn-shaped vase that could be mounted in porcelain. It has the following notation: 'Vase pour Monsieur D’aguerre comandé ce 29 Juillet 1782. Beau bleu en plein’. The second, with a stepped shoulder and modified neck rim, 'Vase pour M. Daguerre donné a faire pareil a un model en bois qui avoit Sy devant donné avec deux bandeaux a dessous mais le dit model en bois a été egarré et je les fait faire d’après une porcelaine cuitte mais l’on m’a dit de suprimé les bandeaux ce 15 Avril 1785’, and the third, 'Vase de M. Daguerre demandé En aparence Dun tierre plus grand que son Pre. model ce 3 aoust 1785’. The Sèvres Archives record that seven vases 'a monter Daguerre’ were fired in June-July 1783, and a further four in September (Savill, op. cit., p. 468). Thus Daguerre can be credited with both the design and evolution of this model between 1782 and 1785, which was produced in two sizes, the present smaller example and on a larger scale.

More from Taste of the Royal Court: Important French Furniture and Works of Art from a Private Collection

View All
View All