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Glittering Gold

Sèvres soft paste porcelain, pair of vases. Bleu nouveau ground with gilded decoration. Oval shape, trumpet shaped mouth and acanthus shaped handles; circular stem and foot with square base. Reserves painted with Turkish figures in garden landscape

Vase à gorges or vase à trois gorges ©

The three vases formed part of a garniture when purchased by George IV in 1818. As their decoration, gilding and plinths match, they may have been conceived as a garniture from the beginning. Among the items bought by Louis XV on 23 December 1773 was a garniture of three vases that would seem to match these. The scenes on the vases complement each other: on the front, Turkish figures in garden settings, and on the back, trophies with Ottoman associations. It is possible that the Sèvres artist sought inspiration from Le Sultan Galant, engraved in 1768 by Louis Halbou (1730–1809) after Etienne Jeaurat (1699–1789).

The front reserve on the vase à panneaux depicts a conventional marine scene: an officer wearing a tricorn hat directs sailors shifting cargo on the quayside. The scene may have been painted by Jean-Baptiste-Etienne Genest (active 1752–88). Like his contemporary Jean-Louis Morin, Genest was recognised as a specialist in this genre. Of particular note is the richly gilded decoration, skilfully enhanced with delicate tooling. This is a distinguishing feature of the work of Etienne-Henry Le Guay père, who was acknowledged as one of the finest gilders at the manufactory in the eighteenth century.