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Lidded Vase

Date: ca. 1770
Dimensions:
18 5/8 x 7 1/4 x 6 3/4 in. (47.3 x 18.4 x 17.1 cm.)
Medium: soft-paste porcelain, overglaze dark 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 mark: cd; Duveen label: 27386
Inscription: Incised mark: cd; Duveen label: 27386
Object Number: 27.33A
Label Text:The name for this model, vase à pied de globe, refers to the lower section that is in the form of a globe stand. That term appears in the Sèvres documents once in 1769, the same year in which the first examples of vases made in this form are known (although the shape may have been introduced the previous year). The model was made in three sizes, this pair being of the smallest size, which also seems to be the most common. A simplified version of the shape was introduced in about 1774. A plaster model survives at the Sèvres manufactory with a similar silhouette but without the globe stand base and with Chinese heads at the sides. This plaster model is catalogued in an inventory of 1814 with the title vase chinois, however no surviving examples are known of this model with the Chinese heads. The title vase chinois also appears in the eighteenth-century documents; it is unclear, however, to which shape this term applies. The vase à pied de globe model may have been referred to by both terms in the eighteenth century and the shape was frequently described as a vase chinois from the nineteenth century.
The vases are decorated with an overglaze turquoise-blue (bleu céleste) ground color and painted in oval, colored reserves of equal size on the front and back of each vase. The front reserves are edged with a broad tooled gilded band flanked by sprays of oak leaves. The back reserves are edged with a broad tooled gilded band surrounded by a narrower tooled band.
This example is of the second largest size. It is decorated with an overglaze dark blue ground color and painted in a colored oval reserve on the front with three cherubs playing, in a landscape, with an arrow and quiver. The back 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. Both reserves are edged with a gilded frame in the pattern of cattails tied by a ribbon bow at the base. The blue is decorated with an elaborate gilded pattern of a spotted gold sablé ground incorporating caillouté roundels interspersed with flower-head shaped areas enclosing a motif of a large dot encircled by a ring of smaller dots known as oeil de perdrix (partridge's eye).
Although the source for the scene on the front reserve has not been identified, it is probably adapted from the work of François Boucher (1703-1770). Similar cherubs with martial attributes are found on a number of other vases of around the same date. See, for example, the front reserves on a vase à glands (cat. 92) and a vase à laurier (cat. 93) at The Huntington. Comparable scenes on vases in other collections include those on a pair of vases à boulons at the Wallace Collection, London,3 and on a pair of vases urne antique à ornaments at the Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford.4 Noting specific similarities in the painted technique on the figural scenes on a group of vases including the Wadsworth and Wallace vases and on the Huntington vase à pied de globe, Roth attributes the painting on these pieces to Jean-Baptiste-Etienne Genest (active 1752-1789),5 the head of the painter's workshop and one of the most talented painters at the manufactory.6
The Huntington vase may have been made as a pair with a similar vase à pied de globe in the Gage collection at Firle Place, Sussex.7 The example at Firle is of the same size, has the same ground color and gilded decoration, and has a colored front reserve with three cherubs in a landscape, one holding a harp and the other holding a book of music inscribed Armide; the reserve on the back has a spray of flowers. A pair of vases à pied de globe that was sold from the Christner collection in 1979 has colored reserves of similar character to those on the Huntington and Firle examples, each showing one cherub in a landscape.8 This pair s of the smallest size and has the same ground color, leading to speculation that it was made as a garniture with one or both of the larger vases. However, the gilded decoration on the blue ground and that framing the reserves of the smaller vases differs from the decoration on the other two.
At the time it was acquired, the Huntington vase was inventoried as a pair or companion piece with another vase à pied de globe in the collection, cat 91. The two vases had been placed on matching, later gilt-bronze stands (since removed), either by the London firm of Partridge or by the Duveen firm. The vases are of matching shape and size and are decorated with the same ground color; yet the painted reserves are of completely different subject matters and the gilded patterns on the blue grounds are also different, if related, indicating that the vases were not made as a pair. Nevertheless, the reserves on the fronts and backs of both vases appear to have been painted by the same pair of artists, one artist such as Genest painting the figural scenes on the fronts and another, unidentified, flower painter decorating the back reserves.

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