A pair of Sèvres hard-paste vases, circa 1778

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Lot 217
A pair of Sèvres hard-paste vases, circa 1778

Sold for £ 149,000 (US$ 198,677) inc. premium
A pair of Sèvres hard-paste vases, circa 1778
Vases bouc du Barry, painted by Jean-Jacques Dieu with polychrome chinoiserie sea battles and flying insects, outlined in gilding, applied with gilt goat's head handles, draped and tied goatskins below the scene and gilt flower garlands suspended from the necks, gilt collars around the necks and gilt borders to the moulded rims, 30cm high, crowned interlaced LL marks in red enclosing date letter AA (one smudged), painter's mark for Dieu and gilder's mark for Jean Chauvaux (le jeune) (one with a goat's head horn replaced and two chips to foot) (2)


  • Provenance:
    William Stephen Poyntz (1770-1840), thence to his daughter;
    Georgiana Elizabeth, Countess Spencer (née Poyntz);
    The Earls Spencer, Althorp, Northamptonshire;
    London art market, from 1986 (according to Sassoon, see below Literature)

    R.J. Charleston, Sèvres and Other French Porcelain in Earl Spencer's Collection at Althorp, in The Connoisseur 173 (February, 1970), pp. 77-86, fig. 11;
    R. Savill, A Pair of Sèvres Vases: From the Collection of Sir Richard Wallace to the J. Paul Getty Museum, in The J. Paul Getty Museum Journal. vol. 14 (1986), p. 138;
    S. Eriksen & G. de Bellaigue, Sèvres Porcelain - Vincennes and Sèvres 1740-1800 (1987), p. 331f, no. 142;
    R. Savill, The Wallace Collection Catalogue of Sèvres Porcelain (1988), II, p. 625;
    A. Sassoon, Vincennes and Sèvres Porcelain: Catalogue of the Collections, The J. Paul Getty Museum (1992), no. 23, n. 19

    The vase form in all its variations, and these particular vases, have been discussed in detail by Rosalind Savill (1986) and Adrian Sassoon (see above Literature): it was produced in four versions and in both soft- and hard-paste. The only other examples of this most elaborate version of the model is the pair of vases decorated with flower baskets and vases and birds purchased by J. Paul Getty in 1938 and now in the Getty Museum (Sassoon, cat. no. 23 - in addition the present lot and the Getty vases, seven other examples are recorded in the literature).

    According to Savill's study of the overtime records, it is probable that Dieu was paid 60 livres each for decorating these vases (Savill, p. 138), and the kiln records indicate that they were fired in December 1778. A pair of vases à tête de bouc presented by Louis XVI to the Holy Roman Emperor, Joseph II, in 1777 cost 360 livres each, so it is likely that these vases cost the same amount in 1778. Savill (p. 140) has identified thirteen unspecified vases at this price in the sales records between August 1778 and December 1779. Madame Elisabeth and the duchesse de Mazarin each purchased a pair of vases in 1778, and nine vases - presumably including the present lot - were delivered to Versailles in 1779: of these, Louis XVI purchased a pair and a set of three; his aunt, Madame Victoire, purchased a pair of vases, and an unnamed member of the court bought another pair in December. Sasson notes (p. 116) that a pair of vases was listed in 1794-95 among the possessions of Louis XVI's sister-in-law, the comtesse d'Artois (two egg-shaped vases with garlands, drapery, and goat's heads as handles...gilded on a white ground of Sèvres porcelain); the vases may have been the pair purchased by a member of the court, or those purchased by the king and subsequently given to the comtesse d'Artois.

    A tray and part tea service painted by Lécot in 1779 in the Wallace Collection is similarly decorated with naval battle scenes, described as 'marine chinois' with European figures on the tray and chinoiserie figures on the other pieces (Savill 1988, II, pp. 621ff., C407-13, the author notes (p. 625) that the sources for these types of chinoiserie scene are unidentified, and may possibly be based on 17th-century Dutch engravings). It is interesting to note that one ship on each vase bears a shield with the French royal arms.
A pair of Sèvres hard-paste vases, circa 1778
A pair of Sèvres hard-paste vases, circa 1778
A pair of Sèvres hard-paste vases, circa 1778
A pair of Sèvres hard-paste vases, circa 1778
A pair of Sèvres hard-paste vases, circa 1778
A pair of Sèvres hard-paste vases, circa 1778
A pair of Sèvres hard-paste vases, circa 1778
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