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Lidded Vase

Date: ca. 1770 and later
Dimensions:
14 1/2 x 6 1/2 x 6 1/2 in. (36.8 x 16.5 x 16.5 cm.)
Medium: soft-paste porcelain, possibly hard-paste porcelain, overglaze turquoise-blue ground color, polychrome enamel decoration, gilding; gilt-bronze mounts
Credit Line: The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. The Arabella D. Huntington Memorial Art Collection.
Marks: Incised mark: cs; Duveen label: C4366 / 2
Inscription: Incised mark: cs; Duveen label: C4366 / 2
Object Number: 27.129
Label Text:Physical and stylistic evidence suggests that this lidded vase and its companion piece (cat. 100) were neither assembled nor decorated at the Sèvres porcelain manufactory. However, the vase or body of this example bears the incised mark of a Sèvres répareur and is made of soft-paste porcelain from that factory dating probably to c. 1780. As it exhibits evidence of numerous problems during the bisque firing, the vase may have remained unfinished at the time and been sold by the manufactory in an unfinished state during the early nineteenth century. It would have then been acquired by another factory or workshop and decorated and assembled into its present form. The pedestal and lid are of hard-paste porcelain not produced at Sèvres and are of nineteenth- or early twentieth-century date. The surface decoration on all three sections appears to have been applied simultaneously, at the time the pedestal and lid were made in an unidentified workshop, possibly in England.
For a discussion of this shape, see cat. 100. The painting and gilding on the two vases do not exhibit the quality of execution that marks production at the Sèvres manufactory. Both vases are decorated with an overglaze turquoise-blue ground color copying the bleu céleste of Sèvres. In the eighteenth century this had been one of the most costly ground colors to produce; however, it was rather easily and widely reproduced during the nineteenth century. The blue on this vase is applied more extensively and less carefully than on the companion piece. It is applied to areas such as the rings joining the panels together and to the oak leaf garlands that frame each panel. These areas were then gilded over the blue. This is not something that would have been done at Sèvres, where such areas would have been left white for gilding. If the various pieces of the two vases were assembled and decorated at the same time, it remains unclear why the ground colors on both examples were not applied in a consistent manner. The gilding on both examples is crudely applied and lacks any character or definition. Each panel is edged with a plain gilded band without the tooled patterns that would be expected from Sèvres gilding. Similarly, the gilt-bronze mounts are not of eighteenth-century manufacture. The gilt-bronze bases, collars joining the pedestal to the vase, and knops are highly mechanical in production and finish, indicating that they were made much later than the bodies of the vases.
Each vase is painted in a colored reserve on the front with a harbor scene. The two scenes have been conceived as pendants that are roughly mirror images. This is a particularly unimaginative feature, uncharacteristic of Sèvres design. The compositions are conceived in the manner of the Sèvres painter Jean-Louis Morin (see cat. 89), and have an affinity with similar scenes painted on vases at the Wallace Collection, London, particularly the detail of the striped breeches of the figure on this example (see fig, 00 ). The same two compositions are found on a nineteenth-century Sèvres style cup and saucer-with the scene from this vase on the cup and the scene from cat. 100 on the saucer.
The back and side panels are painted in polychrome on white reserves with trophies suspended from ribbons. On this example the elements are pastoral, suggestive of music and gardening: one trophy incorporates a lyre, horn, caduceus, and open book of music; one trophy has a thyrsus, tambourine, basket, and grapes; and one trophy has a watering can and other gardening implements. The character of these trophies is similar to those on a set of three vases ferrés at the Wallace Collection, London, but the painting is technically inferior.
The fact that the figural scenes and trophies on these vases are so similar in character to examples found at the Wallace Collection indicates that they may have been assembled and decorated at a very late date, perhaps in the early twentieth century after the Wallace Collection was opened to the public, with the examples there then serving as potential models for the later decorators.


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