The scene depicted is after a painting by François Lemoyne (1688-1737), Continence de Scipion, painted in 1726, now in the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Nancy, France. Lemoyne was a professor at the Académie, was named the first painter of the king and as a result received a pension of 3,500 livres. He worked on the Salon d'Hercule at Versailles, completing it in 1736. Tragically, Lemoyne death was caused by depression, fatigue and lack of self-esteem.
Scipio Africanus Major (236-183 B.C.) was a Roman general during the Punic Wars. Throughout his career he conquered Spain, Carthage and Hannibal. He was revered by the Romans and later through scandals and political intrigue, rejected. The scene pictured on this vase 'The Continence of Scipio' is one of two famous tales of his life found depicted in paintings.
It is likely that this piece was exhibited at a Paris Exposition Universelle in 1867 or 1878. The owner was told that a photograph in their possesion was taken at an International Exhibition in the 1860/70's. The photograph shows the vase on an oriental table in front of a drape.