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Pair of French Louis XVI mounted potpourri pots

Pair of French Louis XVI mounted potpourri pots

A pair of large vases of Chinese porcelain with poudre-bleu decoration from the Kangxi period, mounted within fire-gilt bronze frames. The colour was blown onto the object using bamboo, resulting in the irregular speckled pattern in the glaze. The gold decorations were cold-painted, as was customary, and depict treasures and flowers placed within cartouches, which are surrounded by a dense pattern of lotuses.

The covered pots were mounted in France in the eighteen century, using delicate fire-gilt bronze Louis XVI frames. The lid of each pot features a floral button. The upper edge of each vase features a gilt bronze openwork rim. Two appliques following the vases’ bulbous contours serve as grips. The symmetrically shaped foot encapsulates the entire lower portion of the vase, and is borne by four straight, slightly tapering feet. The exquisite quality of the fire-gilt bronze lends these sizeable blue pots an air of grandeur.

Potpourri pots appeared in France from the seventeenth century onwards and became popular throughout Western Europe over the course of the eighteenth century. They were filled with aromatic dried petals and a small amount of salt; the contents’ fragrances could then permeate the room through holes in the lid or openings in the pot’s metal rim.

Chinese pots with bronze frames – of which this pair is an example – were particularly popular. “The French adore Oriental culture, but often make additions to it,” wrote Jean Baptiste de Voyer, Marquis of Argenson, in his Chinese letters around 1740. Oriental porcelain inspired the Parisian marchand-merciers, who sought to supply their famous clientele with the latest novelties, such as mounted objects. Whenever Eastern wares arrived in Europe, the rarest pieces were immediately processed and fitted with fire-gilt bronze. These pieces were the very height of fashion in the latter half of the eighteenth century, and were supplied by such marchand-merciers as Lazare-Duvaux.

Pair of French Louis XVI mounted potpourri pots
Price on request
Private collection, Nice Private collection, Amsterdam
ca. 1775
Chinese porcelain from the Kangxi period (1661-1722) and fire-gilt bronze
41 cm
22.00 cm

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