Details
Each formed as a fluted oviform vase with stylised archaic kui dragon handles, the mouth mounted as a lozenge chased with a trellis ground and with acanthus leaves, extending to bifurcated scroll handles, and with bell-flowers to each side, the foot mounted with pierced rocaille scrolls and acanthus leaves
31.5 cm. (1212 in.) high; 13.9 cm. (512 in.) wide; 11.9 cm. (434 in.) deep
Provenance
Collection of Félix Doistau (1846-1936), Lair-Dubreuil, galerie Georges Petit, Paris, 9-11 June 1909, lot 291.
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Lot Essay

Lot Essay

These rare and beautiful vases feature striking celadon ‘claire de lune’ Qianlong porcelain with stylised archaic kui dragon handles, while the sumptuous rocaille mounts can be attributed to Jean-Claude Chambellan Duplessis, one of the most innovative and artistic bronziers of the reign of Louis XV.

Three other pairs of similar porcelain vases are recorded:
-a pair with green celadon bodies was sold at Thierry de Maigret, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, 02 December 2011, lot 183.
-one with unusual purple glaze and probably formerly in the collection of Jean-Baptiste de Machault d’Arnouville (1701-1794), was sold at Christie’s, London, 9 July 2015, lot 22.
A plaster model of the same shape exists in the Sèvres archives and it has been suggested that Jean-Baptiste de Machault d’Arnouville who oversaw the royal porcelain factory from 1745-1754, might have asked Sèvres to take a cast from his purple vases (which have mounts attributed to Duplessis, chief designer and sculptor at the factory) to create versions at Sèvres of ‘Chinese’ porcelain.
-and another in the Sigismond Bardac Collection, sold at the Galerie Georges Petit in Paris, 10-11 May 1920, lot 48, possibly the present pair. The entry describes the pair as: Deux gourdes en ancien céladon gris lavande de la Chine. Base et collerette de forme contournée, en bronze ciselé et doré, composées de rocaille et moulures du temps de Louis XV; without photography.


THE ATTRIBUTION OF THE MOUNTS TO DUPLESSIS

The tightly controlled fluidity of the ‘rocaille symmetrisé’ displayed by the beautifully chased mounts of these vases point to the oeuvre of Jean-Claude Chambellan Duplessis (1699-1774), a presiding artistic genius of the Louis XV period who was not only orfèvre du roi but also artistic director of the Vincennes and Sèvres porcelain factories. Interestingly, one of the few examples of work in gilt-bronze that can be securely attributed to him is an extraordinary pair of braziers, commissioned as a diplomatic gift to the Turkish Ambassador by Machault d’Arnouville (one of which is now in the Topkapi Museum, Instanbul). The tight control of the symmetrical scrolls on these mounts is typical of the ornamental vocabulary Duplessis developed at Vincennes and Sèvres, and bases with scrolling feet joined by a central foliate motif are frequently seen on the vases produced there from circa 1755-1765, such as on the famous vase ‘pot pourri à vaisseau’ or the vase ‘à la tête d’éléphant’ (R. Savill, The Wallace Collection Catalogue of Sèvres Porcelain: Vases, London, 1988, vol. II, pp. 166 and 194). Other gilt-bronze bases attributed to Duplessis of similarly symmetrical rocaille form include that on a Chinese bamboo-form porcelain vase in the Royal Collection and the base for a bronze group also by Duplessis in the Wallace Collection (G. Sadde, 'Jean-Claude Duplessis, La Liberté du Style Rocaille', L'Estampille L'Objet d'Art, no. 392, June 2004, pp. 46 and 51).

FELIX DOISTAU (1846-1936)

These vases were once part of the renown collection of Félix Doistau. Son of a distiller and himself a liqueur manufacturer from 1873 he amassed an import Art collection and became a generous benefactor of the Louvre. From 1903 he loaned Islamic Works of Art, a collection of miniature and gold boxes and Medieval Art to the Museum and in 1909 donated his collection 169 miniatures together with Medieval Limoges enamels, and other Kunstkammer objects.
A passionate collector he also donated to other Parisian Museum such as the Musées Guimet, Carnavalet Arts Décoratifs and château d’Azay-le-Rideau. He subsequently became Vice-President of the Société des Amis du Louvres.
He also loaned works of art to major exhibitions across many other fields such as in the Paris Exposition Universelle of 1900 and the one in Turin in 1911. Many of his ormolu-mounted Chinese porcelain pieces were included in the important 1911 exhibition at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs La Chinoiserie en Europe au XVIIIe siècle.

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