THE HISTORY OF THE EWERS
Fabruary 1769 witnessed the sale in Paris of one of the most celebrated connoisseurs, Louis-Jean Gaignat. These ewers, with their Louis XV mounts, appeared as lot 83 and were acquired by the duc d'Aumont: 'deux grands vases à bec de théière formant buires d'ancienne porcelaine, bleu foncé tirant sur le violet, d'environ 18 pouces hautgarnis à anses surmontées d'un dragon en bronze ciselé et doré'.
At the sale of the duc d'Aumont's collection on 12 December 1782, these ewers, still retaining their Louis XV mounts, were included as lot 161 and were acquired by Louis XVI for 1802 Livres. Following their acquisition, they are not recorded in the Royal Collection, nor in the revolutionary seizures, nor in the Inventory of the Musée du Louvre until 1789. It is possible that they were given to Marie-Antoinette by Louis XVI, like the two jasper tables that he purchased in the same sale for the Queen's apartments at Versailles. The Queen perhaps considered the Louis XV ormolu mounts old-fashioned and it seems highly probable that she would have commissioned Pierre Gouthière, who had worked extensively for her for the previous three years, to remount them in a more fashionable taste.
These vases are recorded in Marie-Antoinette's collection for the first time following the invasion of Versailles by the masses on 6th October 1789, on her departure to Paris, the Queen arranged for her most treasured objects to be packed, with the desire that they should ultimately be transferred to Saint-Cloud. The marchand-bijoutier Dominique Daguerre was appointed to supervise the operation, arriving in Versailles on 10 October 1789 to 'Les faire monter, d'autres réparer et y faire des étuis et coffres à l'effet de pouvoir les transporter avec sureté.'
In the armoire in La pièce des bains (which is still there), there are recorded 'deux morceaux de porcelaine violet, which were packed in box number 1, article 25, Deux vases oblongs d'égale grosseur, avec un bec en forme d'aiguière d'ancienne porcelaine du Japon couleur violette, coupés dans le milieu par des cerceaux ornés en bronze doré d'or mat, avec des consoles à enroulement sur un des côtés où sont assis de petits satyres, les dites consoles appuyées sur des têtes de béliers tenant dans leurs gueules des branches de vigne, les becs ornés de têtes de cigne; au devant une tête de bacante et ornements analogues; la plinthe aussi garnie de bronzes, avec quatre pieds en griffes de lion et ornements en arabesques le tout très bien exécuté totale 21 po ½.
The vases were not, however, displayed in the armoire permanently! Both the celebrated bois petrifié vases and the oriental alabaster vases were stored in the same armoire. They must have come from a more prominent part of Marie-Antoinette's apartment, and it is interesting to note, therefore, that several objets précieux from the second floor cabinet and from the petit appartement on the ground floor are omitted from this list. The former is now known as the Billard de la Reine, and in 1783 it became the room where the Queen preferred to spend time, as the Cabinet Intérieur on the first floor was increasingly used for official purposes.
Daguerre retained these objects for more than four years, until on the 24 October 1792, two months after the fall of the monarchy, Daguerre's associate Lignereux informed the Minister Roland. On 16 December 1793, the mineralogist Besson and the jeweller Nitot were placed in charge of the Inventory, and the objects were removed to the Musée du Louvre. Desperate for money, The Musée du Louvre sold some of the objects in 1798, thus explaining how the bois petrifié vases, now in the Musée Nissim de Camondo , Paris, and the celebrated jasper bowl, now in the Wallace Collection, London, left the Royal Collections. These ewers, probably because of their unusual colour, were retained by the Museum.
During the Consulate period, Napoleon Bonaparte, as First Consul, decided to refurbish the Palais de Saint-Cloud, and the principal appartements were refurbished, in the most part, with objects seized by the Republic from the Royal palaces and emigrés's mansions. It seems most probable that these ewers were transferred from the Louvre to Saint-Cloud at this time, circa 1799-1800.
They are mentioned at Saint-Cloud for the first time in circa 1805 (Archives Nationales, O2 713II fol. 23). In the salon de l'Empereur are recorded: 'deux vases en porcelaine fond bleu, avec anses à têtes de beliers et femmes, dorés d'or mat et deux faunes sur les anses.'
We find them again in 1807 (Archives Nationales, AJ19 292 salon Abricot fol. 64): 449 deux vases en porcelaine de Sèvres fond bleu ornés de palmettes têtes de bacchus, têtes de bélier col de cygne et faune le tout en cuivre doré d'or mat 2000 hauteur 58c.
In 1812 they were displayed in the salon de l'Impératrice, which from 1815 was renamed the salon de la Duchesse d'Angoulème, daughter of Marie-Antoinette (Archives Nationales, 02 736 fol. 93) 'no 41 deux vases porcelaine de Sèvres forme aiguière fond bleu, pieds à griffes, ornés de palmettes et enroulements, têtes de bacchus et de bélier, col de cigne et faunes, le tout en cuivre doré or mat hauteur 58c 2000.'
In 1818 (Archives Nationales, AJ 19 296), they are recorded in the salon de S.A.R. Madame (duchesse d'Angoulême) and were numbered 679, and in 1843 (source AJ19 326) in the Galerie d'Applou, ' no. 53 deux vases en porcelaine du Japon, forme aiguière fond bleu, pieds à griffes palmettes et enroulement, tête de bacchus et de béliers, cols de cygne et faunes en bronze ciselé et doré hauteur 048 objet d'art (413)'
The Inventory number 413 actually belonged to a previous Inventory, and it is this number that can be seen on the underside of the vases.
Their final record at Saint-Cloud is in 1855, where they are listed in the grand salon de l'Impératrice: '677 deux vases en porcelaine du Japon forme aiguière fond bleu, pieds à griffes palmettes et enroulement, têtes de bacchus et de bélier, col de cygne et faune. hauteur 48c (objet d'art)'
The ewers were removed from the Inventory of Saint-Cloud on the 28 June 1855. It is, therefore, interesting to note that Queen Victoria and Prince Albert visited Saint-Cloud and Paris in the same year, in return for the hospitality offered to Napoleon III and Eugénie during their official visit to London in April 1855. It is certainly between these two dates that the vases left Saint-Cloud, and it seems possible that they could have been offered at that time. Certainly, according to A. Jacquemart and E. Le Blank, Histoire artistique, industrielle et commerciale de la porcelaine, Paris, n.d., Napoleon III offered to his half-brother the duc de Morney, before 1862, des vases (violet ancien)...hauts de 40cm., Ils affectent la forme d'un tube de bambou divisé par ses noeuds à la partie supérieure, une jeune pousse échappée par l'une des articulations se contourne en S et forme un goulot...GOUTHIERE a été chargé de les embellir d'une monture digne d'un souberain.
The ewers are not recorded again until photographed in situ in the Dining Room of Bath House, Piccadilly, the London mansion of Sir Julius Wernher, Bt.
A closely related trumpet vase with very similar mounts and, perhaps most interestingly, with seated satyrs on the scrolled handles, is in The J. Paul Getty Museum, Malibu (see the J. Paul Getty Museum, Journal, volume 16, Malibu 1988, p. 178-9, no. 74). An almost identical pair to that in the Getty Museum, originally from the combined collections of Baron and Baronne Cassel van Doorn, was sold from the Bensimon Collection, Etude Couturier Nicolay, 18-19 November, 1981, lot 112.
This form of ewer, serving for iced fruit-syrups, is discussed in S. de Ricci, Catalogue of Mounted Porcelain, Paris, 1911, p. 44-7.
François-Joseph Bélanger (1744-1818) was the duc d'Aumonts architect/designer, and on the death of his patron, Bélanger claimed 24,000 livres for 'un grand nombre de plans, dessins et esquisses par lui faits pour le Duc....tant pour architecture de bâtiments que pour vases, colonnes, tables.'
PIERRE GOUTHIERE AND MAIRE-ANTOINETTE
On the 7 November 1767, Pierre Gouthière (maître in 1758) was appointed Doreur ordinaire des menus plaisiers. In his new role, he worked with Bélanger for the Dauphine Marie-Antoinette from 1770. He was employed by Les Bâtiments du Roi in 1777 for the boudoir turc of the young Queen at Fontainebleau. The garde-meuble privé de la Reine also commissioned Gouthière to manufacture bronzes d'ameublement, with a payment of 19,711 livres, as well as delivering a pair of wall-lights for the loge à la souveraine à l'Opéra. By the late 1770's, Gouthière was effectively bronzier to the Queen and this is underlined by the duc d'Aumont's sale, where Marie-Antoinette purchased numerous objects by Gouthière. These included the Jasper bowl, now in the Wallace Collection, London, two porphyry tables and two vases de porcelaine violette with rams- heads and lion-paw feet. The design for these, now in the Bibliothéque in Besançon, gives a clear idea of what they looked like.
These vases may explain the King's gift of two other vases, the Queen preferring two pairs to be displayed on the two jasper tables of the window-piers in the Billard de la Reine, rather than displaying them as a garniture. Moreover, the use of ram's-heads and trailing vines is a favourite motif of Gouthière, while on the wall-lights supplied to Marie-Antoinette for the Opéra, we find, 'la folie au bas duquel est une cymbale et deux enfants assis tenant divers instruments.'
The vases from the Clermont d'Amboise Collection, now in the Musée du Louvre, share the same socle, beaded laurel and foliate monopodiae. It is interesting to note, therefore, that they were already attributed to Gouthière in the 18th Century.
To conclude, these ewers, made for Queen Marie-Antoinette for Versailles circa 1783, were almost certainly chased and gilded by Pierre Gouthière, possibly after a design by the duc d'Aumont's architect Bélanger
A PAIR OF LOUIS XVI ORMOLU-MOUNTED CHINESE AUBERGINE PORCELAIN EWERS attributed to Pierre Gouthière and possibly designed by François-Joseph Bélanger, SUPPLIED TO MARIE-ANTOINETTE FOR THE CABINET INTERIEUR DE LA REINE AT THE CHATEAU DE VERSAILLES, each with gadrooned and spirally-twisted rim with ogee-shaped front, the ring-turned circular body with two dogs of Fo terminals issuing goat's-head handles with trailing vines and up-springing acanthus-terminals in berried reeded scrolls, above entwined serpents reaching for the berried rosettes, the scrolled tapering spouts with stiff-leaf and swan nozzles above a Bacchic-mask and ribbon-tied musical trophy, the reeded and laurel-bound collar with further scrolling foliate arabesque-sprays, on acanthus-headed cabriole legs and claw monopodiae, one with scratchmarks St. C 413, numbered 53 and with further inventory marks St. C 677, the other with scratchmarks St. C 413, 413 and inventory mark S. C. 677 and numbered 53, originally with putto surmounting the handles, one spout repaired, minor losses to mounts, the porcelain Kangxi 11in. (28cm.) wide; 19in. (48.5cm.) high (2)
Probably Louis-Jean Gaignat, sold in Paris in 14-21 February 1769, lot 83.
Probably the duc d'Aumont, sold in Paris 12 December 1782, lot 161, where they were purchased by Louis XVI for 1802 livres.
Marie-Antoinette, in whose collection they are recorded in the Cabinet Intérieur de La Reine.
Entrusted to Dominique Daguerre and Martin-Eloi Lignereux for safekeeping from 1789-1793.
The Musée du Louvre prior to their being sent to the Palais de Saint-Cloud.
The Palais de Saint-Cloud until 1855.
Acquired by Sir Julius Wernher, Bt. (d.1912), Bath House, Piccadilly.
Thence by descent to Luton Hoo, Bedfordshire