the underside with a crowned interlaced LL monogram enclosing date code LL in blue for 1788
Sold in these rooms on 8th June 2005, lot 54 and again 7th July 2009, lot 62.
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 dorure”. It 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.
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