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Lapis Lazuli & Plain Blue Grounds

The realistic rendering of lapis lazuli as a ground colour enjoyed a brief vogue at the Sèvres manufactory from c.1778 to c.1785. It was achieved by the application of layers of light tones of blue to convey the subtle gradations of the semi-precious stone.

The swan vases, which are among the most extravagant ever produced at Sèvres, are formed entirely of hard-paste porcelain fashioned to simulate lapis lazuli and gilt bronze mounts. One of only two pairs of this model known to survive today, the sculptural elements are decorated in two tones of green and yellow gold, finely tooled to highlight the feathers and foliage.

In contrast, the plain bleu nouveau ground on the vase solaire and vase à têtes de bouc emphasises their uncluttered clean lines and is set off by the striking burnished gold bands which follow the contours of the vases. The subtle burnishing of the gilded stripes of the foot ring is a refinement characteristic of the finest wares produced c.1770.


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