The present pair of vases must be from a commission with provenance similar to that given to Paul Utzscheider & Cie on behalf of Napoleon for several pairs of candelabra and Medicis vases decorated in imitation of porphyry and other hardstones. The manufacture formed by the partnership between Joseph Fabri and François-Paul Urtzschneider started producing ceramics in 1792 at Sarreguemines, a mills town in the Moselle. In the early 19th Century they invented a specific composition with which, once it was polished, they were able to simulate porphyry, jasper and other precious stones. In the 1809 Exposition des Produits de l'Industrie, they were awarded a gold medal for their vases in imitation of these stones, and attracted the attention of Baron Vivant-Denon, Napoleon's foremost art advisor. Consequently, the Emperor commissioned an important set of objets d'art from Fabri and Urtzschneider, including eight pairs of torchères and twenty-two pairs of vases (the latter of four different designs), at a total cost of 120,000 francs. In the French archives, these are listed as "Vases en matières imitant les pierres dures opaques, savoir le basalte brun, le porphyre brun, le porphyre brun et rouge et le porphyre brun et blanc, dans les formes et ornaments en bronze doré conformes aux dessins n. 1,2 & 4". The present pair correspond to drawing number 2, noted as a "Une paire forme grecque… 80 centimetres en porphire brun et blanc, conforme au model no 2, sans ornements en bronze.”
Sarreguemines imitations of porphyry are very scarce. Of the few known vases there is a single in the Palais de Trianon in Versailles, another in the Musée National de Céramique in Sèvres while a pair-- very similar to the present lot-- in the Château de Malmaison. Of the Sarreguemines torchères, two pairs are in the Palazzo Reale in Naples, two pairs are in the Château de Fontainebleau, a pair is in the Musée Marmottan in Paris (illustrated in Y. Brayer et. al., Musée Marmottan. L'Empire, Paris, 1977, p.54) while a further pair, from the collection of Monsieur Hubert de Givenchy, was exhibited at the Christie's Paris Empire exhibition held at the Avenue Matignon gallery in September 2014, the bill of sale for which is retained in the Archives Nationale, Paris.