The antique models for the vases come from entirely different sources, but were regularly copied as a pair from the middle of the seventeenth century, in a variety of media. Around 1569 the marble Borghese Vase was discovered in Carlo Muti's garden in Rome and then moved to the Villa Borghese by 1645 (it is currently in the Louvre collection).
The vase depicts a Bacchic procession and it has been suggested that this includes a drunken figure of Silenus. The Medici Vase was displayed in the Villa Medici, Rome by 1598 and is currently in the Uffizi, Florence. This shows a sacrificial scene, once believed to be the fate of Iphigenia. As early as 1656, Stefano della Bella reproduced this vase in an engraving which may have encouraged the production of early copies. Some of the earliest copies are those in marble placed around the Bassin de Latone at Versailles. It has been suggested that this is a likely source for the manufacture of French versions in bronze, as all the major founders and sculptors of France were working for Louis XIV at the end of the seventeenth century.
A similar pair are illustrated in A. Moore, Houghton Hall, 1996, p. 116.