A pair of gilt-bronze mounted mottled brown marble lidded urns Louis XVI, circa 1775, the mounts attributed to Pierre Gouthière
- marble bronze
Theodore Dell, Furniture in the Frick Collection, French Furniture Eighteenth and NIneteenth Centuries, ( Part 2), 1992, Vol. 6, p.107.
Daniel Alcouffe, Anne Dion-Tenenbaum, Gérard Mabillé, Gilt Bronzes in the Louvre, Dijon 2004, pp.240-243.
Gilt-bronze mounted marble vases became increasingly popular in the second half the 18th century. Much of the popularity was due to the marchands-merciers and also the workshops established by the Duc d`Aumont in 1770 within the hotel des Menus- Plaisirs which specialised in the turning, cutting and polishing of marbles and hardstones. Employed in these workshops were Francois-Joseph Bélanger (1744-1818) as a designer, Pierre Gouthiere ( 1732-1813) as ciseleur-doreur , Augustin Bocciardi ( recorded 1760-1790) as sculptor and Guilleman for polishing and finishing hardstones. The quality of the present vases is such that it seems highly likely that they were produced by these workshops.
Pierre Gouthiere (1740-1806).
The handles of the present vases are formed of a female classical mask head joined by garlands of foliage and are of exceptional quality, superbly cast, chased and gilded. The foliage joining the handles almost gives the impression of actual growing foliage climbing up and clasping the vases. The use of classical mask heads as mounts is a favourite motif of Pierre Gouthière. A closely related mask head mount flanked by similar fruiting vines by Gouthière can be seen on a blue marble side table, originally made in 1781 for the Duchesse de Mazarin, the mounts made by Gouthiere and now in the Frick collection and illustrated in Theodore Dell, Furniture in the Frick Collection, French Furniture Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries (Part 2), 1992, Vol. 6, p.107, (see fig 1). The present masks also relate to figures seen on a vase in the form of a cassolette, by Gouthière, now in the collection of the Louvre, formerly in the collection of the Duc d`Aumont and sold in his sale as lot 11, for 5000 livres. This and another example of his work also seen in the collection of the Louvre is illustrated in Daniel Alcouffe, Anne Dion-Tenenbaum and Gérard Mabille, Gilt Bronzes in the Louvres, 2004, pp. 241-244. For further comparison, see a pair of Chinese Aubergine porcelain ewers with mounts attributed to Gouthière, sold Christies London, 9th June 1994 and also a pair of Egyptian Alabaster vases also with mounts by Gouthière sold by Christie`s London, 11th June 1992, lot 60.
The mounts in the present vases can therefore be confidently attributed to Pierre Gouthière (1740-1806) . Received maître doreur in 1758, he was to become one of the most famous ciseleur-doreurs of the Louis XVI period. He originally began working for the gilder Francois Thomas German, one of the most celebrated doreurs of his era. On 7th November 1767 he was appointed Doreur ordinaire des menus plaisirs. In this role he worked with Bélanger for the Dauphine Marie-Antoinette from 1770. He also undertook a considerable amount of work for Madame du Barry especially for her Pavilion de Louveciennes. Among his other patrons were of course the Duc d` Aumont and his daughter, the duchesse du Mazarin and also the Comte d`Artois, later King Charles X for whom he made the chimney mounts for the Chateau de Bagatelle. He was subsequently employed by Les Batiments du Roi, in 1777 for the boudoir turc of the young queen Marie-Antoinette at Fontainebleau. By 1770s Gouthière was in effect bronzier to the Queen who shared his passion for gilt-bronze mounted marbles a fact further emphasised by the fact that she purchased pieces mounted by him at the legendary sale of the Duc d`Aumont`s collection in 1782. The Queen's purchase of five lots was from her own privy purse and included the celebrated brûle parfum of red jasper in the Wallace Collection (P. Hughes, The Wallace Collection. Catalogue of Furniture, vol III, London, 1996, pp.1340-1345).
The present vases can be also compared with vases forming part of the d` Aumont sale because unusually for the period, many were illustrated with line drawings in the sale catalogue. Lots 13 and 21 are of a very similar form although of much smaller proportions but both also share the same gadrooned ornament to the lower part of the vase.
Louis-Marie-Augustin, succeeded as 5th Duc d`Aumont in 1723 and in the same year took up his family`s hereditary position as premier gentilhomme de la chamber to the King. This position included the supervision of the Menus-Plaisirs who were responsible for commissioning Royal gifts and for supplying articles for the royal wardrobe. The Duc d`Aumont thus responsible for appointing of artists and craftsmen to the Menus-Plaisirs appointed Francois-Joseph Bélanger ( 1744-1818) and Pierre Gouthière. Together they were both to be involved with the creation of many important pieces which included the famous jewel cabinet , now lost, but completed in 1769, to contain Marie Antoinette`s wedding present. The Duc d`Aumont `s interest in ancient and precious marbles had been formed initially when he purchased from the marechal de Richelieu two antique porphyry vases from Italy. This was to be the start of an extraordinary collection including many magnificent gilt-bronze mounted marbles which was eventually to be dispersed following his death in 1782 .
Jaime Ortiz-Patiño (1930-2013)
Jaime Ortiz-Patiño belonged to a dynasty of extraordinary collectors. The origins of the collection lie with Jaime Ortiz-Patiño’s grandfather - Simon Iturri Patiño (1860-1947) – a mythical figure and mining pioneer dubbed the Rey del Estaño (King of Tin), who discovered the most important tin mine in Bolivia. The family art collection was expanded under his son, Antenor Patiño (1894-1982), who was a connoisseur of the French ‘Grand Siècle’ in his own right and major donor to Versailles.
Sotheby’s have had the privilege of offering Patiño property in the past, notably the sensational collection of French 18th century furniture sold in New York in 1986 and an exceptional group of Paul de Lamerie silver which Sotheby’s sold in New York in 1998 and achieved record prices.