This elaborate Vase à Dauphin was probably designed by Jean-Claude Dupleissis père and makes use of the popular rococo motif, the dolphin. The dolphin was associated with the dauphin of France and was incorporated into decorative schemes of the period, possibly following the birth of the duc de Berri, the future Louis XVI in 1754. Several Vincennes porcelain dolphin forms are mentioned in the sale records and dated examples of the Vase à Dauphin are known between 1754-56, of which the present example appears to be one of the earliest recorded pair. The form of the present vase first appears in the factory records in 1755 when three turquoise-ground examples are recorded; two decorated with children and one with flowers are noted in the enamel kiln records. The marchand-mercier Lazare Duvaux appears as the only noted purchaser during the period of 1755-1759 when prices ranged from 432 livres for an example painted with children, to 600 livres for examples painted with either children or birds with a bleu céleste ground, as with the present example. Duvaux is recorded as purchasing a pair decorated with children on a turquoise ground in 17551; the present vase is highly likely to be one of this pair and therefore one of the pair recorded in the 1755 firing records, see Rosalind Savill, ibid, London, 1988, Vol. I, pp. 62-69.
Only six examples of this form are recorded: an example of circa 1755-56 painted by Dodin with putti amongst clouds, in the Musée de Louvre, Paris (formerly in the Rothschild collection); an example of the same period painted with flowers, in the Musée des Arts Décortifs, Paris; a pair in the Wallace Collection, London (dated 1756 and painted with birds); an example painted en camaïeu bleu dated 1754-55 and sold Christie's London, 12 May 2010, lot 245 and the present vase.
The collection of Sèvres and Vincennes porcelain at Harewood House was formed by Edward, Viscount Lascelles (1764-1814) who shared the Prince of Wales's francophile taste, amongst other common interests. Although the future George IV never visited France he was fascinated by its history and people and he is generally credited with igniting interest in French works of art after the difficult years of the Revolution. Perhaps inspired by his mother, Queen Charlotte, the Prince of Wales acquired a collection of Sèvres porcelain which is arguably the finest assembly of pieces from the French Royal factory. A group of fellow connoisseurs including Edward, Viscount Lascelles, formed a loose fraternity that followed, advised and competed with the Prince for the finest examples. The Sèvres porcelain in British collections such as those formed by Lord Yarmouth, later 3rd Marquess of Hertford, the 5th Duke of Bedford, the 2nd Earl Spencer and Walter Francis, 5th Duke of Buccleuch demonstrates the wealth of pieces available in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. An indication of the importance of the collection at Harewood can be gleaned from a visit paid in May 1815. Following the death of Viscount Lascelles, the Prince Regent, accompanied by his mother, Queen Charlotte, visited Harewood to view the collection of Sèvres. The Prince was a generous friend and it is possible on the occasion of this visit that the Earl of Harewood was presented with two blue ground caisses à fleurs tombeaux originally purchased in 1802 for Carlton House, each of which has a pair retained in the Royal Collection.2
It is not known exactly when the present vase came to Harewood, however a series of sale receipts recording purchases by Edward, Viscount Lascelles from the celebrated dealer and supplier to George IV, Robert Fogg, notes on '27 July 1807...a Sevres dejeuner, a do. (ditto) cup & saucer and a do. (ditto) flower vase' all purchased for a total of 42 pounds. The listing of 'China from Harewood House Taken to London May 1894' records the present vase: 'Jardinieres, no. 3 Case: a Conical jardiniere in loose-perforated stand with dolphin handles turquoise blue ground - the jardiniere painted with panels of fruit and flowers and the stand with garden implements. H. 8½ inches'.
The collection at Harewood remained largely unrecorded and unchanged until the Second World War. The collection was published in a series of articles by Hugh Tait for Apollo between 1964 and 1966. At the time of publication the Harewood vase had a flared upper part designed to sit within the pierced base, decorated with bouquets of flowers, this contemporary upper part would originally have formed a vase with another base. The vase remained in this 'matched' state when it was published by Hugh Tait, ibid., 1964, pp. 474-6, fig. 2. During her research for the seminal catalogue of the Wallace Collection, Rosalind Savill noted that the present vase is almost certainly one of a pair of vases decorated with children which is recorded in the Sèvers archives. She also noted that the whereabouts of the other vase is unknown. In July 1983 an upper part of one of the Vase à Dauphin decorated with putti came to light in Suffolk, and Savill immediately recognised this as the correct upper part to the Harewood vase. After this exciting discovery the two were eventually reunited. This allowed the upper part which had formerly been matched with the Harewood base to be reunited with its rightful base (painted with flowers) in the collection of the Musée des Arts Décortifs, in Paris, and the Paris vase is illustrated by Tamara Préaud and Antoine d'Albis, Porcelaine de Vincennes, Paris, 1991, pp. 114-115.
1. Recorded in the Sale Register at the Sèvres archives: '1 October - 31 December 1755, f.199r, two vases 'à Dauphins', turquoise-blue ground with children, 600 livres each, Duvaux.'
2. See Geoffrey de Bellaigue, French Porcelain in the Collection of Her Majesty the Queen, Vol. I, London, 2009, pp. 115-116.
Christie's gratefully acknowledge the assistance of Dame Rosalind Savill with the preparation of this footnote.