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Lidded Vase

Date: ca. 1762
14 1/4 x 8 1/2 x 7 1/8 in. (36.2 x 21.6 x 18.1 cm.)
Medium: soft-paste porcelain, overglaze pale turquoise-blue ground color, polychrome enamel decoration; gilding
Credit Line: The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. The Arabella D. Huntington Memorial Art Collection.
Marks: Incised marks: 27.27, N ; 27.28, a square; Duveen label (27.29): 28389 / 3
Inscription: Incised marks: 27.27, N ; 27.28, a square; Duveen label (27.29): 28389 / 3
Object Number: 27.28
Label Text:Vases of this shape were first introduced at Sèvres in 1761 and seem to have been produced until about 1768. The model was made in three sizes, this set comprising one example of the largest size and a pair of the second size. The shape was made in two basic versions; these follow the more elaborate initial model with leafy branches of myrtle represented along the sides of the vase and interlocking with a scrolled design at the neck. The neck and lid are pierced to allow the scent of potpourri to escape from the vase. The titles pot pourri à feuillages and pot pourri feuilles de mirte were apparently used interchangeably in eighteenth-century documents to describe vases of this model, with the latter title having since become the more common. Savill suggests that the myrtle decoration may refer to contemporary potpourri mixtures that included myrtle leaves and flowers. Only pairs are listed in the sales records between 1761 and 1764; nevertheless, garnitures in which vases of this shape are combined with other models are known.
Jean-Claude Duplessis probably designed the model. Savill has shown that his source was possibly a design by Pierre Germain II published in 1748 in Elements d'orfèvrerie (Orfèvrerie d'église) showing a pear-shaped ecclesiastical hanging lamp with scroll handles. Such an intricate model with complicated molded and pierced work would have been entrusted only to the factory's most skilled modelers and répareurs. Each of the two smaller vases from this set is marked for a different, unidentified porcelain worker-a scrolling N on one and a square on the other. These marks are found on other vases of similar complexity and, especially during the 1760s, on other pots pourris à feuillages. The same two marks appear separately on a pair of vases of this model in the Wallace Collection, London.
The pale turquoise-blue ground color is unusual and is considered to be the color referred to in documents between 1761 and 1763 as petit verd. It seems that few pieces were decorated with this color. Dated examples are known only from 1760 and 1761, with the most famous being a garniture of five pieces including a pair of pots pourris à feuillages thought to have been purchased by Madame de Pompadour in 1762.
Each vase is painted on the front with figures in landscapes in a colored, pear-shaped reserve. The back of each vase has a white reserve, of the same size and shape as that on the front, painted in polychrome with a spray of fruit and flowers. Each reserve is edged with a narrow tooled gilded band surrounded by a delicate gilded wreath of foliage, reeds, and flowers tied by a ribbon bow at the base. The stem of each vase is painted in the ground color with the Greek-key pattern edged with gilding. Each foot is painted in polychrome against white with a pattern of large leaves, the veining delineated with gilding. It is not known who painted the reserves on these vases. One artist painted the figural scenes on the front reserves, and a different artist was responsible for painting the fruit and flowers on the back.
The figural scene on the central vase is adapted from a detail of the painting Halte de chasseurs by the Flemish-born painter Carl van Falens (1683-1733). The same detail with variations appears on the first Sèvres porcelain plaque known to have been painted by Charles Nicolas Dodin, now at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and on the front of a vase pot pourri Hébert, now at Waddesdon Manor, England. The plaque is signed and dated on the back Dodin 1761, and the vase Hébert bears Dodin's mark and the date letter I for 1761. Whoever painted the scene on this center vase, was either using the same source or adapting the scene from one of Dodin's versions. The scenes on the side vases are adapted from details of an engraving after the painting Les Jardinières italiennes au marché by the French artist Jean-Baptiste Marie Pierre (1713-1789).
These three vases may have been made ensuite with a pair of vases à têtes d'éléphant to form a garniture of five pieces. The related vases are at Waddesdon Manor. They have the same ground color and the same pattern of gilding around the reserves. Their front reserves are decorated with different details from the same painting. Halte de chasseurs by van Falens, that was used as the source for the painting on the front of the center vase from the Huntington set. The same details of a fowler and a shepherd are found on the fronts of another pair of vases à têtes d'éléphant at Waddesdon that are marked for Dodin and are ensuite with the vase pot pourri Hébert mentioned above in relation to the center vase of the Huntington set.
The Huntington vases were in the collection of Alfred de Rothschild at the end of the nineteenth century, possibly inherited from his father Baron Lionel de Rothschild. Alfred's collection was published in 1884, where these vases are described as being ensuite with a pair of vases hollandois nouveau. The latter are now part of the Dodge Collection at the Detroit Institute of Arts. They have the same ground color, but have front reserves decorated with harbor scenes, making it unlikely that they were originally intended as part of a garniture with the Huntington vases. As Sassoon notes, aside from the royal collections, Alfred de Rothschild's was one of the greatest collections of Sèvres porcelain ever assembled. After his death in 1918, his art collection was divided between his illegitimate daughter Almina, countess of Carnarvon, and his nephew Lionel de Rothschild. The former received his London residence, 1 Seymour Place, and its contents; the latter received his country house, Halton, in Buckinghamshire, and its contents. Following the death of her husband shortly after his participation in the discovery of the tomb of King Tutankhamen in Egypt, Lady Carnarvon, facing financial difficulties, sold the Sèvres and other objects she had inherited from her father at auction in 1925. Many pieces from the Carnarvon collection passed through the Duveen firm to Henry Huntington as part of the Arabella D. Huntington Memorial Art Collection in 1927.

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