93
93
The Sèvres porcelain 'Coupe de Pise' named 'The Dudley vase', by the turner Nicolas Fischer and the painter-gilder Jean-Jospeh Fontaine, 1853-1854
Estimate
60,000100,000
JUMP TO LOT
93
The Sèvres porcelain 'Coupe de Pise' named 'The Dudley vase', by the turner Nicolas Fischer and the painter-gilder Jean-Jospeh Fontaine, 1853-1854
Estimate
60,000100,000
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

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The Sèvres porcelain 'Coupe de Pise' named 'The Dudley vase', by the turner Nicolas Fischer and the painter-gilder Jean-Jospeh Fontaine, 1853-1854
with polychrome decoration of roses on a white and gilt background, with the marks Vn-52-1, sN54 crowned and S.53
Haut. 65,5 cm. diameter 74,5 cm. ; Height 25¾in., diameter 29½in.
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Provenance

William Ward, Lord Ward, 1st Earl of Dudley (1817-1885) at Dudley House, Park Lane, London thence by descent to his son, William Humble Ward, 2nd Earl of Dudley (1867-1932)

Catalogue Note

The Pisa Vase

The model for the Pisa Vase or tazza was designed by Jules-Constant Peyre (1811-1871) in 1853, making the piece here presented as one of the first vases of this form to have been produced.

Jules-Constant Peyre had a career as a sculptor before joining the Manufacture de Sèvres in 1848, starting as the second in charge of the turners and draughtsman and then becoming Chief Designer. Several remarkable works produced during the Second Empire are noteworthy, including the series of biscuit portraits of Emperor Napoleon III and Empress Eugenie. In conjunction with his activity at Sèvres, in 1844, Peyre published the work Orfèvrerie, bijouterie, nielle, armoiries et objets d'arts divers, recueillis, composés, dessinés par Jules Peyre.

Only a small group of Pisa Vases were made at Sèvres. Twelve entered the Sèvres store between 1855 and 1861. Of these twelve pieces, seven were decorated with figures and ornaments on a celadon ground (one now in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, dated 1854, inv. 2682-1956), one with flowers on a blue and black ground, two with a blue and gold ground, and two with gilding and floral crowns. The vase here presented corresponds to the description décor en or couronne de fleurs, when it entered the Sèvres store in June 1855, as found in the March 1856 sale records.

These vases were very expensive to produce when we consider the list drawn up by the chemist Victor Regnault (1810-1878), director of the Sèvres Manufacture from 1854 to 1871. All the details of the manufacturing costs were recorded, including the cost of the main body of the vase and the foot. At the time, the total design cost amounted to almost 400 francs, to which must be added the decoration which cost 2,400 francs1. Nicolas Fischer, produced the body and the foot of the vase which it marked Vn-52-1 and the shape of the vase dates precisely to 1852. The decoration on the vase was executed by the painter Jean-Joseph Fontaine, who worked at Sèvres for a duration of thirty years, from 1827 and 1857. Between May and December 1854 he received payments for the painting of " fleurs de la coupe de pise ", as well as for gilding2. He affixed the red crowned N mark flanked by a red "s" and "54" for the year 1854. Furthermore, two species of roses can be identified, the pink Provence rose (Centifolia) and the sweetbriar rose (Rosa rubiginosa). They are probably inspired from Pierre Joseph Redouté who published Les Roses between 1817 and 1824. The wonderful realism achieved in this decoration earned Fontaine high acclaim and he obtained an honorable mention at the 1855 l'Exposition universelle de Paris.

Five other Pisa vases, of slightly smaller size were sent to the Palais de Compiègne in 1860 to form a special centre piece. As with the present piece on offer, they were also created by Nicolas Fischer and were sold at auction in 1871. In 2012, one of these vases was repurchased and is now in the musée de Compiègne (inv C2012.003).

William Ward and William Humble Ward, 1st and 2nd Earl of Dudley

According to the sale records of the manufactory, our vase described as "Coupe de Pise – fleur" was sold to Lord Ward on March 22, 1856 for 5,500 francs3.

Lord Ward (1817-1885) inherited the title of Earl of Dudley in 1860 and took possession of Dudley House on Park Lane, London, where he had lived since 1847. In 1855, several newspapers mentioned his passage to Paris, notably to make purchases at the World Fair in order to refurnish his London residency (see The Morning Chronicle, November 8, 1855 and The Morning Post, November 19, 1855).

Dudley House was designed by William Atkinson and built between 1827 and 1828 and served as a showcase for Lord Ward's collection of French porcelain and paintings.  Ferdinand de Rothschild regarded Lord Ward as a "generous collector" and his son, William Humble Ward (1867-1932), 2nd Earl of Dudley inherited his fortune, including the vase. As Governor General of Australia and a prominent politician, William Humble Ward was part of the inner circle of the Prince of Wales, future King Edward VII and enjoyed, besides his residence in London, his country manor, Witley Court in Worcestershire.

The succession of the Pisa Vase after entering the Dudley collection seems uncertain. It was not part of the sale organized by Christie's, London, May 21, 1886. Two possibilities are that William Humble Ward may have recovered the vase at the 1895 Dudley House sale and placed it in one of his residences which included Witley Court in Worcestershire, or Himley Hall in Staffordshire, or Crogan, or Ednam. The second possibility would be the sale in 1895 of the Dudley House Vase to Sir Joseph Benjamin Robinson, 1st Baronet (1840-1929), who had increased his fortune through his mining interests in South Africa, in particular the gold mines. The Earl of Dudley's second brother, Sir John Hubert Ward, subsequently bought the London house in 1912 and lived there until his death in 1938. His widow continued to live there until 1940, when the house was damaged by the Blitz. The vase could therefore have followed the Robinson family and remained in situ and then through the 1912 purchase of the house by Sir John Hubert Ward, was reinstated into the Dudley collection.

We would like to sincerely thank Madam Danielle Ben-Arie for her contribution and her help for this note.

[1]  Sèvres arch., Cité de la Céramique, Vr1, 3e série, n° 1, ff. 195-196.
[2]  Sèvres arch, Cité de la Céramique, Register Vj60, f° 6, n° 65, Travaux des ateliers de peinture, dorure et brunissage 1854.
[3]  Sèvres arch, Cité de la Céramique, Register Vv6, f° 6, n° 65 and register Vz8, f° 258v)

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