August 2012 - А pair of vases with mythological compositions
Porcelain and gilt bronze
The Royal Palace
This pair of vases, a part of the Palace applied arts collection, was made in Sevres in the famous French porcelain factory at the end of the 19th century. The collection was complied over the decades and numbers objects created between the mid 18th and the beginning of the 20th century, in the famous central European manufactures or workshops like Rosenthal, Royal Copenhagen, Gustavberg, Alt Wien, Meissen, Sevres or Limoges and Saint Petersburg Imperial workshop.
By their manufacturing characteristics, material and design, this pair of Sevres vases belongs to the corpus of artefacts created for aristocratic circles, their courts and palaces. Initially they were also made for public ceremonial spaces and nowadays they are displayed in similar surroundings, such as the Blue Salon of the Royal Palace.
The vases are identical both in dimensions and form and are made in precious porcelain. Their bases and handles are in gilded bronze and are both decorated with mythological compositions. The only difference are two mythological scenes signed by the artists E. Grisard.
One of the vases is decorated with the myth of a lovely nymph Daphne from Ovid’s Metamorphoses. Daphne was the daughter of the river god Peneus and was renowned for her beauty, although she refused all her suitors. Apollo, the god of light and beauty, was deeply in love with this beautiful nymph and chased her perpetually. Running away from Apollo, Daphne asked her father for help who transformed her into the laurel tree. The un consoled and desperate Apollo made the laurel into his sacred tree, and crowned himself with the laurel wreath.
The other vase displays a scene from Vergil’s Aeneid, the epic poem devoted to the founding father of the Roman Empire. At the centre of this epic is the legend of Aeneus the hero from the Trojan War. The depicted scene derives from the VIII book of the Aeneid, and narrates the story of the Vulcan the god of fire, who upon his wife, Venus’s plea makes the arms for Aeneus. The scene on the vase represents the moment when Vulcan gives the arms to Venus for Aeneas her illegitimate son.
Sevres china manufacture
The story of Sevres manufacture begins as early as 1740 when two workers of the porcelain manufacture in Chantilly founded a small workshop of their own in a small place close to Paris Chateau de Vincennes. Not long after the foundation they found their first investors, aristocrats close to the court of Louis XIV. They became so successful that in 1751 they enlarge the workshop and king himself becomes one of the major shareholders. Two years later the manufacturer is given Royal protection and the title of Porcelain manufacturer to the French king. The mistress of Louis XIV, Mme Pompadour was one of the key patrons of this manufacture. In 1756 the manufacturer was moved to Sevres, a place close to Versailles and the sea of power. Three years after later Louis XIV becomes the sole owner of the manufacturer and Sevres porcelain remained the property of French kings until the Revolution in 1789.
The Sevres workshop was the European leader in porcelain manufacturing and design, often called „the white gold“. As such it had the profound influence on the both design and technique of manufacturing in other European porcelain workshops.