Description This monumental vase stands at just under a meter tall. It was made by the Sèvres porcelain manufactory near Paris, established in the 18th century with the support of Louis XV and Madame de Pompadour. The vase was part of the manufactory’s exhibit at the Paris Exposition Universelle of 1867. Such oversized works often featured on the stands of Sèvres and other ceramic producers at World’s Fairs. The competition between exhibitors was intense, and a vase like this one would have drawn the eye of visitors, as well we showcasing the technical and artistic prowess of the firm. Firing a piece of porcelain this size was a formidable challenge in itself. The report of the United States Commission on the fair described the porcelains by Sevres as “without any equal.” It later sold to William T. Walters for 5,300 French francs ($1,100), a remarkable sum at the time. The vase was a collaborative endeavor between the designer of the vessel’s shape, the potter who molded it, the gilder who made the bronze attachments, and the painter of the large oval “reserves” (framed spaces on the two sides of the vase between the handles). The reserves were painted by Jules André (1807-1869) who was well known as a landscape painter with links to the Barbizon school. The scenes show the Fontainebleau forest. Several Barbizon painters were trained as porcelain painters or worked at the Sèvres factory. The porcelain industry, like the print industry, was a remunerative occupation for artists struggling to establish themselves in other fields. The vase’s unusual turquoise background color was described as “vert clair” (clear green) in the factory records and may have been inspired by Asian ceramics.
- Before Monet: Landscape Painting in France and Impressionist Masters: Highlights from The Walters Collection. The Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore. 1998.
Provenance Sale [offered], Manufacture Nationale de Sèvres, Decembre, 1866 [MNS., Archives, Régistre Vv7, folio 51, no. 86]; William T. Walters, Baltimore, May 24, 1873, by purchase [MNS., Archives, Régistre Vz 13, folio 51, verso]; Henry Walters, Baltimore, 1894, by inheritance; Walters Art Museum, 1931, by bequest [Found 5 West Mt. Vernon Place, May, 1941].
Credit Acquired by William T. Walters, 1873
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