These magnificent vases are probably those included in the Catalogue Raisonné of the collection of Monsieur Gaignat, ancien Secrétaire du Roi, & Receveur des Consignations, drawn up by the menuisier Pierre Remy in 1768. Published in Paris, this catalogue is of particular historical importance, owing to the existence of the dessinateur Gabriel-Louis de Saint-Aubin's own copy, with illustrations for each lot drawn into the margins. Listed under no. 95, the vases were described as:
Deux Urnes coupes, de forme de seau bouteille, couvertes, de même porcelaine, fond céladon, avec animaux & arbustes en bas-reliefs blancs, lisrs d'un filet bleu.
Cet ouvrage est léger, délicat & peu commun, ce qui les rend très singulières: elles sont deux anses, & garnies en bronze ciselé et doré..
Whilst the sketchy nature of Saint-Aubin's illustration makes it impossible to conclude conclusively if these Alexander/Perenchio vases are indeed those from the Gaignat sale, the decoration of the porcelain - with its distinctive sinuous blossoming tree isolated against a plain background - the design of the ormolu mounts - with their solid, unpierced collar and exaggerated kick of the feet, as well as the distinctive profile of the stepped lid, would appear to correspond almost exactly.
The Gaignat catalogue also carried the following introductory sentence on the frontispiece:- ET celui des Porcelaines rares & anciennes, tant du Japon que de la Chine, de Saxe & de France; Effets de Laques, Meubles précieux & Bijoux, par S. Ph. POIRIER, Marchand. In view of what may, therefore, have been an existing relationship between Gaignat and the marchand-mercier Simon-Philippe Poirier, it seems possible that the Gaignat vases were supplied by the latter. That Poirier was not alone in supplying the Court with these distinctive vases, however, is confirmed in the Livre-Journal of the marchand-mercier Lazare Duvaux. For on 10 December 1754, he supplied Madame de Pompadour with: Deux autres vases d'ancienne porcelaine verte reliefs bleu, mont en bronze doré d'or moulu, 1,700 l.. The high price and infrequent reference to this distinctive type of porcelain suggests that it was both highly prized and admired in the eighteenth century.
A single pot-pourri vase with closely related, if more densely decorated porcelain and slightly more full-blown Louis XV mounts, displaying a pierced collar between the vase and the cover (which is not mentioned in the Gaignat catalogue description or illustration) is in the collection of Her Majesty the Queen at Buckingham Palace (J. Harris, G. de Bellaigue, O. Millar, Buckingham Palace and its Treasures, New York, 1968, p.188). Finally, a pair of pot-pourri vases with closely related decoration to the porcelain, but again with later, more full-blown Louis XV mounts and a flat lid, are in the Wrightsman Collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (F.J.B. Watson, The Wrightsman Collection, New York, 1966, vol. II cat. no. 248 A-B).