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Sèvres porcelain factory

Vase chinois de côté 1781

RCIN 4962

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The realistic rendering of lapis lazuli as a ground colour enjoyed a brief period of popularity at the Sèvres manufactory from c.1778 to c.1785. This pair of vases, decorated with a skilfully applied pale lapis ground, simulates the veining, irregular areas of colour and striated gold lines of the true semi-precious stone. The two Sèvres artists who developed this particular technique were Nicolas Schradre (active 1773-85) and Jean-Jacques Dieu (active 1776-1805), who often worked together on the same pieces. In the jaws of monster-head handles are unusual rings in the form of a serpent biting its own tail, symbolising eternity. It has been suggested that this pair of vases may have formed a garniture of five pieces, acquired in 1783 by Madame Adélaïde, the daughter of Louis XV, the other components being a centre vase and the two vases cygne à roseau en buire in the Royal Collection. Text adapted from French Porcelain for English Palaces, Sèvres from the Royal Collection, London, 2009