Style Napoleon III / Ref.10637
Napoleon III monumental vase in Porcelain of Paris with the Triumph of Venus mounted in gilt bronze with espagnolettes
Width: 26'' ⅜ 67cm
Height: 83'' ⅞ 213cm
Depth: 21'' ⅝ 55cm
Circa 1870. Paris.
In excellent condition.
This exceptional monumental vase in porcelain of Paris, conceived in the spirit of the Sèvres Manufactory’s productions, is quite characteristic of the Napoleon III style . The long neck of the shape is extremely rare, as well as the gilt bronzes’ richness of ornamentation. Its dimensions and its important bronze mount indicate a ceremonial piece, of supreme luxury, comparable to those the Manufactory exhibited at the World's Fairs . Evoking the aristocratic art of the Ancien Regime in many ways, this vase pays tribute to the refinements of the 18th century, and could have been commissioned to decorate the mansion of a 19th century personality.
Indeed, the “Celestial blue” background, embellished with gold arabesques, is characteristic of the porcelains from the Royal Manufactory of Vincennes as early as 1753, which became the Sèvres Manufactory. It is a famous blue, difficult to obtain, which served to decorate the first service delivered to Louis XV.
The lively shapes of the bronze base also evoke the art of the ornamentalists in Louis XV’s time, such as Jean-Claude Duplessis or Gouthiere, who were in charge of drawing gilt bronze mounts for China porcelain. The bronze mount of our vase is hence very close to the Duplessis’ ornementations.
The two espagnolettes, with sheathed busts of women holding garlands of flowers, seem to evoke the sculptures that adorn the front of Marie Antoinette ’s Theater at the Petit Trianon of the Versailles Palace.
This large vase is decorated with painted medallions, hosting a still life on one side and the miniatures of famous subjects on the other. Indeed, it is an unambiguous composition after François Boucher's The Triumph of Venus (1740) that adorns the large main medallion, while the small medallion on the neck represents a famous portrait of the Princess of Lamballe.
The characters of the large medallion are all present in Boucher's original painting, but the porcelain painter has reinterpreted them to propose a more concentrated composition, fitting perfectly to the surface of the vase. One recognizes the large striped veil characteristic of this painting where putti are spinning, as well as the group around Venus, especially the Triton with a seaweed crown, and the Mermaid with the diadem of pearls. The Tritons with the conchs present to the left of the painting were thus brought closer to the main group in this miniature. Let us note that the composition has been reversed, probably having been made from an engraving of the painting.
The medallion on the neck of the vase is a portrait of Madame de Lamballe, an intimate friend of Queen Marie Antoinette , who became Superintendent of the Queen's House. Numerous miniatures have been produced from a famous painting by Louis-Edouard Rioult where she appears wearing a crown of flowers and ribbons. The Princesse de Lamballe is known for her virtue and renowned sweetness, but also for her interest in the Enlightenment.
This monumental vase is an important work, characteristic of the grandiose productions presented at the World's Fairs of the time of Napoleon III. But it is also a work of art full of references to the art of the 18th century, heir of the Age of Enlightenment.
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