Lot 29
  • 29


300,000 - 500,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • each 52cm. high, 34cm. wide, 34cm. deep; 1ft. 8½in., 1ft. 1½in., 1ft. 1½in.
Vases Cordelier à ornaments, the ovoid bodies enriched in burnished and matt gilding and painted in monochrome with the draped female figure supporting swags of flowers, between bands of applied palmettes and beaded bands, the shoulders with paterae reserved against trellis pattern, the lower parts gadrooned, the collars and stems moulded and gilt with bands of laurels, the neck and stems with bands of stiff-leaves, the stepped circular feet with further bands of leaf ornament, supported by square gilt-bronze bases, the scroll handles with beaded, rosette and leaf ornament the underside with a crowned interlaced LL monogram enclosing date code LL in blue for 1788


Château de Rotalier, Beaufort, where these vases were already recorded in 1886 as part of a family donation and remained there until 1995. Sold in these rooms on 8th June 2005, lot 54 and again 7th July 2009, lot 62.

Catalogue Note

The plaster model of the Vase Cordelier à ornaments is preserved in the Sèvres Museum and is listed in the oldest surviving inventory, begun in 1817, this model has the same reliefs as those on the present vases (fig.1). This form of vase first appears under the name Vase Cordelier in 1804, though its earlier appellation has not been identified. The archives of the Manufacture de Sèvres record that only one pair of vases of this model was executed in 1788. A pair of slightly smaller lilac-ground Vases Cordelier from 1790, decorated by Philippe Castel en grisaille with hunting landscapes and embellished with similar gilt-metal mounts, is in the Sèvres Museum (MNC 26,406 1-2), and published by Marie-Noël Pinot de Villechenon, Sèvres Porcelain from the Sèvres Museum 1740 to the Present Day, London, 1997, p.47, no.46 (fig.2).

The "Régistre de Paiements des Peintres", Armand le jeune received payment on 26 November 1788 for "deux vases biscuit bas relief et dorureIt is almost certain that this entry refers to the present pair of vases. Furthermore, the "Régistre d'Enfournement pour l'Année 1788" reveals that "Deux Vases en Bas Relief et Or, Armand" went through the kiln process.

The painters and gilder’s active at Sèvres in the 18th century regularly marked their pieces in a particular and personal way in addition to the factory mark of the Royal cypher of two interlaced L's and alphabetical date codes. These additional marks, unique to each decorator varied from clearly marked initials or cyphers to a rebus and in some cases, the factory mark incorporates the decorator’s mark. An examination of the style in which the mark is applied, and the decoration of a piece can reveal the artist responsible. This is true of the decorator, Pierre-Louis-Philippe Armand (1746-1788); the interlaced L's marks include dots at the intersections which is thought to correspond to his hand. Pierre-Louis-Philippe, le jeune and his older brother Louis-Denis Armand, l’aîné, were the foremost decorators of their day. The older Armand was noted for his bird subjects, whilst the younger was highly regarded for his flower painting. As such, they set the tone for the dominant styles and subjects at the factory for much of their tenure in the same way that Höroldt set the fashion for chinoiserie painting at Meissen. The brothers were the best paid artists in the painting workshop and both were active for many years. Interestingly both painters did not mark with initials or a cypher, but both apply a carefully drawn factory cypher of interlaced L's combined with subtler marks.  So much so that the crescent mark of the older Armand was not firmly identified until about 1990 through the painstaking research of Bernard Dragesco. Their work ranks among the finest pieces produced by the factory and they worked on many important commissions for the elite of European nobility. The present vases are an impressive coda to the career of one of the great porcelain decorators.

Much of the original research on the present vases was prepared by Cyrille Froissart and Sotheby’s are grateful for his archival research and to Tamara Préaud, now former archivist of the Manufacture nationale de Sèvres, for providing the illustration of the model of the Vase Cordelier à ornaments.