The present lot is possibly from a garniture of five of which three appeared on the art market in the 1960's and are now in a private collection. Angela Carla-Perrotti illustrates two in Le Porcellane dei Borbone di Napoli, Capodimonte e Real Fabbrica Ferdinandea 1743-1806 (Naples, 1986) pg. 82, pl. 31, and col. pl. X. She describes them as vasi "Augustus Rex" and they are quite clearly intended to emulate the Meissen vases of this form. The exuberance of the flower painting on these vases is without equal at Capodimonte or indeed throughout the entire history of Italian porcelain. The vibrant palette Caselli employed must have involved numerous firings and probably explains why all the pieces suffered extensively in the firing. The technical skill required in their manufacture and the odds against the production of a perfect product, probably militated against any further attempts to produce comparable pieces.
The decoration on the vase uses the imagery and language of the Flemish masters which became, via widely circulated engravings after their originals, a formula for flower compositions persisting long after the meaning of the symbolism had been lost. It is possible that the scenes depicted have an underlying theme of vanitas; the vanity and fragilty of man's existence, relieved by the possibilty of salvation and resurrection. Flowers were symbols of transience, decaying rapidly by nature; butterflies were a symbol of the soul from Greek times and flies were the carriers of plague and death. On one side of the vase, a fly aptly serves as a momento mori as it flies perilously close to a larger predator insect.
The mounts appear to be of 19th Century manufacture, although they follow a French pattern of the 1740's. The cracks they help to disguise probably originated as firing-cracks; the vase probably weakened to the extent that it sustained further damage and the mounts were possibly applied in order to support the structure.