The model of the vase Cordelier was created in 1787 and owes its name to the gilt-bronze ornaments including two putti and braided knotted ropes initially designed to fit the vase. On 11th December 1787, Pierre-Philippe Thomire received 3.392 livres for the purchase of 4 marcs of gold pour la dorure du vase à cordes.i A very tall vase Cordelier of the first size (115cm. high) with tortoise-shell ground and bronze putti and gilded-bronze cords was finished in 1793. A matching vase was produced in 1801 and they were together delivered for the Galerie d’Apollon in the Château de Saint-Cloud in 1801-1802, now preserved in the Musée du Louvre, inv. no. LP3272.
Only two pairs dating from the late 18th century of the smallest size are recorded. A pair in biscuit with ornaments in bas-relief painted in gilding by Pierre-Louis-Philippe Armand and dated 1788 was sold at Sotheby’s London, 7th July 2009, lot 67 (52cm. h.). The other pair dated 1790 painted en-grisaille by Philippe Castel on a purple ground is now preserved in the Sèvres museum (45cm. h.).ii In 1801, Alexandre Brongniart père added two intermediary sizes. Two other vases of the first size with a lapis ground since 1804 have been in the Château de Fontainebleau.iii A pair of the second size of 1810 (90cm. h.) is in the Palazzo Pitti in Florence.iv
The present pair of vases of the third size was painted by Gilbert Drouet (active from 1785–1825) and gilded by Charles Sébastien Sorel (active from 1815-1825) in February 1816 and en mont[age] (to be mounted with ormolu handles) in December 1816. They are described in the feuille d’appréciation n°25 of 1816 as:
2 vases Cordelier 3eme gr sans anse fond bleu lapis au grand feu n° 14, deux gros boudins de fleurs gratées et peintes dans le fond, riche décor d’ornements incrustés, gratés, brunis à plat et à l’effet, en or.
The cost was 2.409 francs and the price was 3.000 francs without mounts. They were delivered on 20th September 1817 by order of the comte de Pradel, directeur général du Ministère de la Maison du Roi to the Grande Aumonerie de France as a gift for M. Augusto Brancadoro, one of three Pontifical Ablegates of Pope Pius VII with Constantin Fabrizi and Thommaco Carlo Caliaglini who also received gifts of porcelain on the same day.v
The vases Cordelier given to Augusto Brancadoro are mentioned in the Registres des Présents as ‘2 Vases Cordeliers de 26 p[ouces] de hauteur fond bleu lapis guirlandes de fleurs ornements en or, garniture en bronze’, priced at 6.000 francs. He also received a five piece déjeuner painted with flowers and gilded ornaments, two green-ground candélabres de table and a pair of vases fuseau with malachite-ground painted with jewels.vi
Augusto Brancadoro born in Fermo in 1792, was a nephew of Cardinal Cesare Brancadoro, Archbishop of Fermo from 1803 to 1837. Augusto Brancadoro was sent to Vienna in 1816 and to Paris in 1817 to Cardinal de Talleyrand-Périgord, Archbishop of Paris. He was named vice-legate of Forli at his return in 1818 and died in Roma in 1823 at the age of 32.
The technique of simulating lapis-lazuli in porcelain was first popular at Sèvres between 1778-1785. The earliest dated piece known decorated in this manner is a gobelet litron of 1778 now in the NationalMuseum, Stockholm. The technique in the 18th century was primarily used by the highly regarded artists Nicholas Schradre (active as a painter and gilder from 1773 to 1785) and Jean-Jacques Dieu (active as a gilder and painter from 1777-1791, 1794-1798 and 1801-1811), teawares painted by both artists with this ground colour are recorded.vii The technique is perhaps best seen on the pairs of vase cygne à roseau en buire and vase chinois de côté, dated 1781, now in the Royal collection.viii
The technique was reintroduced in the early 19th century. In 1811, one year before the Prince regent acquired the two pairs of vases mentioned above, the Sèvres factory produced the magnificent Service Iconagraphique Grec. Painted with cameo portraits from antiquity reserved on an bleu lapisse en or-type ground like the present vases, it was presented on July 13th of that year to Cardinal Fesch on the occasion of the baptism of the King of Rome (Napoléon II. son of Napoléon I and Marie-Louise). Production began on a second near identical service between 1812-1817. The service was entered into the factory's saleroom register on May19th, 1817 but was displayed in the Sèvres annual exhibition at the Louvre in January of 1818, and it was not until September of 1819 that the service actually left the factory's stock, when it was delivered to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for presentation to Pope Pius VII. Six plates from the service were sold 18th November 2010, lots 2-6.
Three years before the present pair of vases was painted Drouet worked on the so-called Londonderry vase, a vase étrusque à Rouleaux, of the first size. Drouot painted the flowers and ornament whilst Christophe-Ferdinand Caron (active 1792-1815) painted the birds.ix Around the same time Drouet also worked on three vase Floréals , circa 1812-13, also painted with birds by Caron, gilded by Charles-Marie-Pierre Boitel (active 1797-1822). Two were delivered on orders of King Louis XVIII in December 1814, the third remained at the Sèvres warehouse until it was included in a presentation to the viceroy of Egypt in 1830.x
Sotheby’s is grateful to Cyrille Froissart for his assistance in cataloguing this lot.
[i] Arch. Cité de la céramique, registre Vf37, quoted by Tamara Préaud, op. cit., 1997, n° 52, p. 234.
[ii] Published by Marie-Noël Pinot de Villechenon, op. cit., 1997, p. 47, n° 46.
[iii] Published by Bernard Chevallier, op. cit.¸1996, n° 33 -34 p. 61.
[iv] Published by Svend Eriksen, op. cit., 1973, n° 60, p. 112.
[v] Arch. Sèvres, Cité de la Céramique, Vbb5 f° 14.
[vi] The pair of vases fuseau was sold at Christie’s New York, 26th October 1995, lot 91.
[vii] A coffee can and saucer by Schradre is in the V&A museum, C.121A-1922; a further example was sold at Christie’s London, 12th May 2010, lot 274. A Chinoiserie coffee can and saucer with lapis-lazuli ground colour by Dieu, dated 1782 was sold in the same rooms, 7th June 2013, lot 460.
[viii] Published by de Bellaigue, op. cit, 2009, pp. 440-445, 454-457, nos. 102, 104. It has been suggested that the two pairs formed a garniture of five flanking a central vase Chinois de Milieu, in the collection at Château de Versailles, Inv. V5737; all five vases are published in the exhibition catalogue La Chine à Versailles, Art et Diplomatie au XVIIIe Siècle, 2014, pp. 246-247, no. 88.
[ix] The vase entered the sales inventory on 9th December 1813. It was delivered to Charles Maurice de Talleyrand, then Ministre des Affaires Etranges on 2nd July 1814, who then in turn presented it to Robert Viscount Castlereagh, secretary of state for Foreign Affairs, see Tamara Préaud, op. cit., 1997, pp. 320-21, cat. no. 112. It is now in the collection of the Art Institute, Chicago, gifted to the museum in 1987, mus. No. 1987.1. For further reading see Lynn Springer Roberts, ‘The Londonderry Vase: A Royal Gift to Curry Favor’, Art Institute of Chicago Museum Studies, Chicago, 1989, Vol. 15, No. 1, pp. 68-81, 88.
[x] The only known surviving example is now in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, acc. no. 1991.439. See Tamara Préaud, op. cit., 1997, p. 198, cat. no. 29, where the author notes that they may have been ‘intended for a palace in Rome’.