This very unusual pair of bronze vases shows clearly the influence of Japanese works of art (such as prints, inro, tsuba or vases comparable to the present lot) on European artists at the late 19th-early 20th century. The stylization of natural forms, the iris which was the most popular flower in Japanese art, the insect and especially the dragonfly inspired some young European artists from the 'Art Nouveau' movement.
Emile Gallé was introduced to the Japanese conception of nature in 1885 by Hokkai Takashima, a botany student at the Ecole Forestier in Nancy. Thus, his productions such as glass vases and lamps present the same naturalistic patterns as in Japanese present pair of vases. See the vase illustrated in H.Ricke and E. Schmitt, Glass des Art Nouveau - Die Sammlung Gerda Koepff, München-New York 1998, p.107, pl.22 ; see also the jug with the dragonfly handle sold in Geneva, Hôtel des Bergues, 27 June 1988, lot7 ; and the vase illustrated in W. Warmus, Emile Gallé - Dreams into the Glass, The Corning Museum of Glass, New York 1984, pp.124-125.
Some pieces produced by the brothers Daum during the first years of the 20th century also show similarities with the current lot. For a glass vase with applications, decorated with dragonflies see P. Greenhalgh (ed.), Art Nouveau 1890-1914, V&A Publications 2000, p.212, pl.13.3