SWEDISH PORPHYRY ("SVART BLYBERG") VASES
A vase of exactly the same shape, based on the Borghese vase in the Louvre, is shown in a French catalogue of 1805 advertising porphyry from Elfdal in Sweden (illustrated in Bukowski's Exhibition Catalogue, 'Porfyr', December 1985-February 1986, p. 31). A vase of exactly this shape and size in Blyberg porphyry was also included in this Exhibition (no. 24).
Alvadalen (Elfdal) in Sweden appears to have been the only place in Europe since Antiquity where porphyry has been mined seriously. Mining started in the 1780s and the works were bought by Charles XIV, first of the Bernadotte Kings of Sweden, in order to realise Bernadotte's ambition to bring the splendour of the French Empire style to Sweden. During this period many items in porphyry were distributed throughout Europe as diplomatic presents. The works, which were sold by the Royal Family in 1856, were destroyed by fire ten years later and subsequent production was sporadic and limited.