If the added mounts are sometimes uniquely aesthetic, the porcelain is here mounted as a potpourri: the bronzes are then all utilitarian. "Pot-pourri" takes its name from a Spanish stew "l'olla podrida", the very graphic definition of which can be found in Pantagruel by Rabelais, translated from old French as: "The pot-pourry is full of potages of various kinds, lettuce, roux-based, with no seeds, capers, roasted, boiled, carbonnades, large pieces of salted beef [...] ". It then lost all gastronomic connotation to address only the smell. The Dictionary of Furetière of 1690 gives a very different definition: the potpourri denotes then the amalgam "that the women make several perfumes mixed in a pot to make the room smell good". The recipes of these interior scents were varied and jealously guarded by perfumers who hope to thus retain their clientele of distinguished women.
By metonymy, the container took the name of the content. The potpourri then became a container characterized by the presence of orifices allowing the perfumed vapors to diffuse into the room. Potpourris knew their time of glory during the 18th century, as evident by the numerous purchases made at dealers, in particular Lazare Duvaux, by the Royal family and nobles of the kingdom. Some potpourris were conceived as such, notably the very famous "vaisseau" potpourris created by Jean-Claude Duplessis (ca.1695-1774) for the Marquise of Pompadour. The Louvre example (OA 10965), ornated with a pink ground and Chinese decoration, owes its decor to the painter Charles-Nicolas Dodin (1734 - 1803).
Furthermore, most potpourris were created due to the additions made by the bronze artisans on simple porcelain vases. The change of function appears by the separation of the vase from its lid with pierced gilt bronze circumference. Here, the perforated interlacing allow the odors to diffuse into the room. The ovoid shape of the vase lends itself well to its function and was quite commonly used to be metamorphosed into a potpourri. This is particularly the case with a Rococo potpourri vase, housed in the Wallace Collection (no. F117): the mounting, dated 1750, features an ornamentation of chased and gilt bronzes with irregular organic forms, like the turquoise potpourri auctioned on 28 April 2016 by Sotheby's, London in its "Collection & Collectors" sale (lot 332).
A seed-designed knop makes it possible to lift the lid to place the fragrant substances: this ornamentation is found on other models of mounted vases produced by the Sèvres manufactory, notably on the very famous vase called "Daguerre oval", ornated with bronzes by Thomire, copies of which belonged to the Wallace Collection (No. C342) and the Royal Trust Collection (RCIN 35515). The handles of our pot, supported by masks of old men blowing, as well as the base, also fall within a classical aesthetic inherent of the Louis XVI style, proving the perennial success of vases mounted as potpourris.
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