This delicately carved vase takes its inspiration from antique marbles, and reflects the fashion for classically-inspired decoration at the end of the 18th century. Among the most important promoters of this trend was Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720-1778). His numerous prints of the art and architecture of ancient Rome were hugely influential among artists and decorators. In 1778 his Vasi, candelabri, cippi, sarcofagi, tripodi, lucerne, ed ornamenti antichi, included a number of images which relate to the design of the present vase (Piranesi, op. cit). Among the most closely related are two examples; one from Piranesi's own collection (Piranesi, op. cit., p. 1038) and another in Newby Hall, Yorkshire (Oehler, loc. cit.). The former displays the same overall form and most of the same ornament; the major differences are the presence of a lid, the absence of handles, and the inclusion of the scrolling foliage interspersed with the bucrania. Although the latter also includes a lid, it is most comparable to the present lot, with virtually identical form and ornament.