The gilt bronze mounts adorning this pair of pots-pourri vases is attributed to the decorative art dealer Jean Dulac. Born into a family of decorative art dealers, he worked as a merchant in gloves and perfume before 1740. On 16 May, 1753, he became a marchand privilégié du Roi (privileged dealer to the King). Established at Rue Saint-Honoré, he specialised in the retail of Sèvres porcelain (fig. 2) and he is renowned for delivering bell-shaped vases to important clients, including a pair of vases to the King of Poland, which remain at Lazienski Palace (cf. P. Verlet, Les bronzes dorés français du XVIIIe siècle, Paris, 1987, pp. 72-73).
A design showing a similar vase from the Esmerian bequest, with a provenance of the Saxony-Teschen Collection, is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (fig. 1).
This model is traditionally found on porcelain from the Sèvres factory, which in around 1763 supplied vases inspired by the Far East, without mounts, to decorative art dealers like Dulac, Grouel or Poirier. They in turn would order the gilt bronze mounts from bronze artists with whom they regularly collaborated. Whilst these vases do not usually bear the Sèvres mark, between 1758 and 1776, the name Dulac appears many times in the ledgers of the Sèvres manufactory, the timeframe when he acquired a very large number of green, blue or aubergine colored porcelain vases. An almost identical pair to our simulated black porcelain vases was sold in Paris, Picard, 29 November 1992, lot 55 (fig. 6).
These vases, decorated with bearded satyr masks, laurel leaf garlands, beads, ribbons and a piastre frieze, are very close to a pair in the Rothschild Collection at Waddesdon Manor, Buckinghamshire (ill. in S. Eriksen, Early neo-classicism in France, London, p. 362, pl. 238), with slight differences to the laurel leaf garlands suspended from the satyr heads and plinth, and the Greek fretwork motifs. The mounts on our vases are also similar to a green vase from the former collection of Baron A. de Gunzburg (Sotheby's, Paris, 14 September 2017, lot 85, cf. fig. 3). There are also several other similar vases which sold: Christie's New York, 21 October 1997, lot 277; Sotheby’s 9 and 11 May 2000 lot 48, from the Sir John Gooch Collection at Benacre Hall, Suffolk, or the pair from the Lily and Edmond Safra Collection, Sotheby's, New York, 18 October 2011, lot 973. Another, in blue porcelain, is at The Vyne in Hampshire. It was acquired in Paris from Dulace by Horace Walpole between 1765-1766, for his friend John Chute. In his travelogue, A diary of my journey to Paris, 1765, the author describes with humor “that extravagant and expensive shop”, from where items were sought after by many members of the French, English and Russian aristocracy. A blue vase, with comparable mounts, was presented for sale at Artcurial, Paris, 15 December 2010, lot 35 and may correspond to the one formerly with Galerie Michel Meyer, illustrated in La Folie d'Artois, Paris, 1988, p. 196 (fig. 4). In their catalogue of 2000, this same gallery presented a pair of similar vases in coral-red lacquer, formerly from the Pierre Lebaudy Collection (fig 5).
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