View full screen - View 1 of Lot 54. An Egyptian red porphyry vase with cover, Italian, 17th century, with Louis XV style gilt-bronze mounts, mid-19th century.

An Egyptian red porphyry vase with cover, Italian, 17th century, with Louis XV style gilt-bronze mounts, mid-19th century

Lot Closed

December 11, 02:54 PM GMT


15,000 - 20,000 GBP

Lot Details


An Egyptian red porphyry vase with cover, Italian, 17th century,

with Louis XV style gilt-bronze mounts, mid-19th century

47cm. high, 35cm. wide, 26cm. deep; 1ft. 6 1/2 in., 1ft. 1 3/4 in., 10 1/4 in.

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Of impressive proportions, and finely chased mounts, this striking vase reflects both the European passion for enriching objects with gilt-bronze mounts and the ever-enduring appeal of Egyptian porphyry.

The tradition of mounting precious materials with metal mounts, initially of silver and silver gilt, dates to the 16th century, but the fashion reached its apogee in the first half of the 18th century, coinciding with the foundation of European porcelain factories and the rapid development of a school of French sculptors and artisans working in gilt-bronze, which supplanted gold and silver as the metal of choice. The trend was spearheaded by a new group of art dealers known as the marchands merciers, who served as designers, middlemen and direct purveyors of luxury goods. Commissioning the French bronziers to mount objects with -bronze served a dual purpose of both protecting the material and enhancing its value.

The present lot is an heir of this tradition, replicating the style, and the high quality, that has been associated with the sculptor and goldsmith Jean-Claude Chambellan Duplessis (1699-1774) who was artistic director of the Vincennes and later Sèvres factory and orfèvre du Roi. He produced designs for gilt-bronze, in collaboration with marchands merciers and leading cabinetmakers, in mature rococo style - boldly sculpted but with a symmetrical character, a description that can easily be applied to the present lot.

The use of bulrushes and long leaves motifs have been traditionally linked to Duplessis style (see for example a bronze mounted porphyry vase bought by the Marquis de Marigny from Lazare Duvaux (Musée du Louvre, inv. no. MR 2818), but they are found in multiple coeval prints, for example Pierre-Quentin Chedel’s Fontaine de Penée, from Fantasie Nouvelles, 1738.

A vase with mounts of the same design (dated as circa 1740) as the present lot was offered by Christie’s London, The Exceptional Sale, 9 July 2015, lot 116. The vase was re-using a sarcophagus shaped basin, probably 17th century.

Similarly, the present lot has the further interest of using a 17th century mortar of large scale as a base for the vase. Its profile is similar to an example in the Musée du Louvre (inv. no. OA9244), published by Dario Del Bufalo, Porphyry, 2012, p. 205, M20.