The pomegranate in the 18th century was seen as one of the many new and exotic luxury items being imported into Europe and reserved for the upper echelon of society. The first performance of Jean Racine’s Iphigénie took place in the Orangerie of Versailles on 18thAugust 1674. André Felibien, secretary of the Royal Academy of architecture, commented on the setting:
'…beyond that was the avenue of the Orangerie itself, bordered on both sides by orange and pomegranate trees, intermixed with several porcelain vases filled with different flowers…' , Michel Baridon, A History of the Gardens of Versailles, 2012, p. 190.
Interest into these new specimens grew with speed. Contemporary to the production of this form the French Physician and Botanist Henri-Louis Duhamel du Monceau (1700-82) began the manuscript of what would become Traite des Arbres Fruitiers [Treaties on Fruit Trees]; the completed work was published in 1768.
An almost identical example mounted in gilt-bronze with pierced holes on the shoulder is in the Wrightsman collection, previously in the collection of Louis-Philippe Robert Orléans, Duc d'Orléans (published in the collection catalogue, 1970, vol. II , no. 265, vol. IV, no. 124; Geneviève Le Duc, Porcelaine tendre de Chantilly au XVIIIe siècle, 1996, p. 177). A related example of a different design depicting a horizontal pomegranate resting on a rockwork modelled base was in the Frédéric Halinbourg collection of Chantilly porcelain, sold at Hôtel Drouot, Paris, 22nd-23rd May 1913, no. 128.
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