A rare pair of Louis XV gilt bronze mounted Chinese café au lait ground famille rose porcelain jars and covers the porcelain, Qianlong period (1735-95), the mounts stamped with the 'C' couronne poincon Paris tax mark, circa 1745-1749 (2)

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Lot 64
A rare pair of Louis XV gilt bronze mounted Chinese café au lait ground famille rose porcelain jars and covers
the porcelain, Qianlong period (1735-95), the mounts stamped with the 'C' couronne poincon Paris tax mark, circa 1745-1749

Sold for £ 50,000 (US$ 59,392) inc. premium
A rare pair of Louis XV gilt bronze mounted Chinese café au lait ground famille rose porcelain jars and covers
the porcelain, Qianlong period (1735-95), the mounts stamped with the 'C' couronne poincon Paris tax mark, circa 1745-1749
the rounded bodies with shaped quatrefoil cartouche and circular reserve panels enamelled with peony and prunus blossom and other flowers and insects in pink, blue, green and yellow, the rounded shouldered sectional domed covers with floral and green hatched banded borders and further shaped panels depicting peony sprays and ribbon-tied precious objects, all reserved on a brown ground, the central girdle mount cast with flowers, leaves and rocaille, the twin handles cast as sinuous entwined winged dragons with foliate terminals, the covers with fruiting foliate vase finials, the foot rims cast with further leaves, flowers and rocaille, 28.5cm high, 31.5cm wide (2)

Footnotes

  • In the French court during the reign of Louis XIV and continuing into the Régence period and beyond, the preoccupation with a romanticised view of the exotic east meant it became 'à la mode' to mount Chinese porcelain with European styled extravagant and stylish gilt bronze mounts to suit the décor of fashionable interiors. The use of these contemporary gilt bronze mounts also perhaps removed the outwardly immediate 'foreign' characteristics of the porcelain whilst letting them still retain the romance of their far exotic eastern origins.

    Retailed by the Parisian marchand- merciers (who specialised in high class and fine decorative works of art and furnishings), the rare and highly prized imported porcelain was sometimes also altered and then assembled in their workshops with cast and chased gilt bronze components outsourced from a series of highly skilled craftsmen. According to the statues of the guild the marchand-merciers there were importantly allowed no restriction as to what they were permitted to sell unlike other craftsmen and tradesmen which lead to a lucrative
    and highly profitable trade during which continued throughout the 18th
    century.

    The inventories of many French city and country estates and auction catalogues of the 18th and 19th centuries often feature pairs of gilt bronze mounted Chinese porcelain vases and other items but vases using dragon mounts are extremely rare although serpent handles occasionally appear on single coffee pots and tankards. To illustrate this, the inventory of the estate of the Duke de Brissac's Paris hotel on the rue du Grenelle from 1793-94 lists one such pair of vases which were then earmarked by First Republic's finance minister himself due to their rarity and quality.

    The Dragon Mounts
    The unique and stylishly elaborate dragon handles to the present lot set them apart from the preponderance of similar period high quality gilt bronze mounted Chinese export porcelain vases and covers dating from the period 1740-60. Showing off the magnificent work of an unknown but outstanding ciseleur-doreur (gilder-chaser) their rarity is further enhanced by the very specific 'C Couronne' (crowned C representing cuivre for copper) French tax stamps denoting that they were made in Paris between the years 1745 and 1749.

    Reflecting mid-18th century French high fashion taste, the juxtaposition of highly prized Chinese export porcelain with such idiosyncratic and elaborate high quality lustrous gilt bronze European mounts creates a symbiotic fusion of exoticism. In terms of this fusion, the body of the vase has been cut in two places with an insertion of a bronze band to create a collar which initially appears to be more part of the stepped cover whilst the original neck has been discarded. In addition, the porcelain knops to the covers are replaced with gilt bronze floriate buds and the main central band or girdle is cast with flowers, foliage, and rockwork of rocaille. However, it is the introduction of two cast and chased writhing serpents or dragons, the open mouths showing fangs,
    as the elaborate acanthus C scroll handles which transform the pair of vases into something more striking and extraordinary.

    The Porcelain
    Manufactured during the reign of the Emperor Qianlong and produced for export to Europe, circa 1740, the porcelain of the present lot is typically painted with overglaze decoration depicting finely painted blossom in delicate pastel colours associated with the famille rose palette reserved on an attractive coffee coloured 'café au lait' ground. With stylistic flower motifs which would go on to influence flower painting in the Rococo style in Europe, the large, shaped medallion reserves featuring overblown peony blossom are emblematic of the
    Chinese 'Queen of Flowers' symbolising prosperity, refinement and
    female beauty. The additional foliage and flowers in the smaller reserve
    panels include prunus sprays which similarly symbolise the arrival of
    spring.

    Comparable Vases
    For a near identical pair of vases with very similar mounts and dragon handles see Sotheby's New York, Important French Furniture, 18th November 2010, lot 202.
    For a very similar pair of vases without dragon handles and with variant knopped foliate finials to the covers see Christies London, Collection of Monsieur and Madam Riahi, 6th December 2012, lot 117.
    A pair of vases of jar form in blue Chinese porcelain with very similar dragon handle mounts were listed in the sale of the collection of the Comte d'Armaillé, Galerie Sedelmeyer, Paris, 5th & 6th June 1890, lot 68.

    Related Literature
    Lunsingh Scheurleer 1980, Waton 1986, Wilson 1999, Ulrichs 2005, Tillmann 2012.

Saleroom notices

  • Please note the revised estimate is £60,000 - 80,000.
Contacts
A rare pair of Louis XV gilt bronze mounted Chinese café au lait ground famille rose porcelain jars and covers the porcelain, Qianlong period (1735-95), the mounts stamped with the 'C' couronne poincon Paris tax mark, circa 1745-1749 (2)
A rare pair of Louis XV gilt bronze mounted Chinese café au lait ground famille rose porcelain jars and covers the porcelain, Qianlong period (1735-95), the mounts stamped with the 'C' couronne poincon Paris tax mark, circa 1745-1749 (2)
A rare pair of Louis XV gilt bronze mounted Chinese café au lait ground famille rose porcelain jars and covers the porcelain, Qianlong period (1735-95), the mounts stamped with the 'C' couronne poincon Paris tax mark, circa 1745-1749 (2)
A rare pair of Louis XV gilt bronze mounted Chinese café au lait ground famille rose porcelain jars and covers the porcelain, Qianlong period (1735-95), the mounts stamped with the 'C' couronne poincon Paris tax mark, circa 1745-1749 (2)
A rare pair of Louis XV gilt bronze mounted Chinese café au lait ground famille rose porcelain jars and covers the porcelain, Qianlong period (1735-95), the mounts stamped with the 'C' couronne poincon Paris tax mark, circa 1745-1749 (2)
A rare pair of Louis XV gilt bronze mounted Chinese café au lait ground famille rose porcelain jars and covers the porcelain, Qianlong period (1735-95), the mounts stamped with the 'C' couronne poincon Paris tax mark, circa 1745-1749 (2)
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