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European Ceramics

The First Vase Marie-Antoinette Purchased for Her ‘Pleasure Palace’

By Sotheby's

The Treasures sale in London on the 4th July includes a Sèvres porcelain vase that is believed to be the first vase purchased by the young Queen Marie-Antoinette in 1774.

The vase is one of five lots of 18th century Sèvres in the sale belonging to a private collector. The vase was purchased by Queen Marie-Antoinette in the same year her husband Louis XVI gifted to her the Petit Trianon – ‘her pleasure palace' – which had originally been built for her grandfather-in-law Louis XV’s maîtresse-en-titre Madame de Pompadour.

The Trianon was a place of pleasure and frivolity which offered the Queen an intimate space away from the court, where she presented her guests magnificent celebrations in an enchanting rural setting. Following the Queen’s orders, her architect Richard Mique (1728-1794) in 1775 transformed the botanical garden of Louis XV into an Anglo-Chinese garden.

Neoclassical structures such as the octagonal pavilion The Belvedere, built on the top of a hill looking over the small lake, and the Temple of Love, built in 1778, gave the park an “Antique” aspect.

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ATTRIBUTED TO RICHARD MIQUE (NANCY 1728-1794 PARIS), A PLAN OF THE PETIT TRIANON AND ITS GARDENS, SOTHEBY’S NEW YORK, 26TH JANUARY 2016, LOT 53.

To magnify the entrance to the Royal grounds in 1786 Mique built the Porte Saint Antoine, in the form of a triumphal arch. The antique style painted on the vase à oreilles of Marie-Antoinette evokes this picturesque aspect of the Trianon.

The landscape painting on this vase was done by Nicolas Schradre and was based on the 1748 engraving by Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720-1778) representing L’Arc de Drusus in Rome, erected near the Porta San Sebastiano on the Via Appia.

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ÉLISABETH LOUISE VIGÉE LE BRUN (PARIS 1755 - 1842 PARIS), MARIE ANTOINETTE IN A CHEMISE, 1783 ©METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART, NEW YORK

The shape of this particular vase was created by Jean-Claude Duplessis at the Vincennes manufacture in 1754, and became available in several sizes the following year. Unlike other vases of the 1750s, the vase à oreilles did not go out of fashion when the neoclassical taste appeared and its variation in biscuit was still present in the 1780s.

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THE PETIT TRIANON, VERSAILLES

During her reign Queen Marie-Antoinette bought a limited number of vases from Sevres: five garnitures of three vases, five pairs of vases and two single vases. The present lot is unpublished in the literature.

Later this year, a breath-taking group of jewels which once belonged to Queen Marie-Antoinette will feature in the Royal Jewels from the Bourbon Parma Family sale in Geneva.

Additionally, highlights from the Royal Jewels of the Bourbon Parma Family featuring illustrious Royal Orders will be on view alongside Medals from the collection of George, Duke of Cambridgeuntil 3 July.

VIEW FULL CATALOGUE OF THE SALE HERE

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