The superb mounts on these vases, with elaborated grapevines issuing from eagle masks, can be attributed to the celebrated bronzier Pierre-Philippe Thomire (1751-1843), who from 1783, following the death of Jean-Claude-Thomas Chambellan Duplessis fils, was responsible for the fitting and design of gilt-bronzes for the Sèvres factory, often under the direction of the marchand-mercier Dominique Daguerre. He did not work exclusively for either Daguerre or Sèvres however and the mounts for these vases of Paris porcelain, possibly from the Locret factory, were likely ordered by another marchand-mercier excluded from the monopoly exercised by Daguerre at Sèvres. A pair of mounted Sèvres vases with mounts attributed to Thomire, featuring grapevine swags and very similar leaf and berry mounts supporting the base of the vase above the socle, was sold from the collection of the late Baroness Batsheva de Rothschild; Christie’s, London, 14 December 2000, lot 2.
One of the vases is stamped with the inventory number ‘E 83’ to the base. Although this was previously thought to refer to the Palais de l’Elysée, it is actually more likely to refer inventories made at the École Militaire in Paris in the 1850s, whose inventory numbers are simply ‘E’ followed by a number, while those at the Elysée are either ‘ELB’, ‘EB’ or ‘EN’ followed by a number, or simply ‘ELB’ followed by a fleur de lis. The Ecole Militaire was founded by Louis XV in 1750, under the patronage of his celebrated mistress and patron of the arts, Madame de Pompadour. The vast complex, situated by the Champ de Mars, was designed by the renowned neo-classical architect Ange-Jacques Gabriel.
The cabinet-maker Oeben supplied the Minister of War the Marquis Voyer d’Argenson with an elaborate marquetry table depicting a military trophy with the plans of the Ecole Militaire (now in the Gulbenkian Museum, Lisbon). This was perhaps commissioned by Madame de Pompadour to celebrate the opening of the Ecole, as she was an important patron of Oeben’s.
Intriguingly, the 1850s inventories at the Ecole Militaire included pieces which had been transferred from royal palaces such as the Grand Trianon and the Tuileries, suggesting the possibility that these vases could also have had an illustrious 18th century provenance (see M-F Dupuy Baylet, Les Bronzes du Mobilier National 1800-1870, Paris, 2010, p. 43, cat. 9, p. 218, cat.119, p. 232, cat. 126).