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Sèvres porcelain factory

Pot-pourri vase and cover (pot-pourri à vaisseau or pot-pourri en navire) 1758-59

Soft-paste porcelain, bleu lapis and green ground overlaid with gilded œil-de-perdrix decoration, further gilding and gilt bronze | 55.1 x 37.8 x 19.3 cm (whole object) | RCIN 2360

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Sèvres soft paste porcelain pot pourri vase. Bleu lapis and green ground overlaid with gilded œil-de-perdrix design. Boat-shaped with out-turned feet; either end tapered stump of bowsprit emerges from the jaws of marine monsters. Lid formed by pierced rigging encircled by a wind-blown pennant decorated with fleur-de-lis. Principal reserves painted with a polychrome tavern scene to the front and a posy of flowers on the reverse.

For many admirers of Sèvres porcelain, the pot-pourri à vaisseau represents the height of sophistication and a remarkable combination at the factory of the technical mastery of the repareurs and the skill of the painters and gilders. The vase, the largest of the three models of this shape produced at Sèvres, is decorated with two ground colours, green and dark blue.

The front reserve depicts a genre scene taken from an unknown source, inspired by David Teniers the Younger (1610-90). The ends of the vase are in the form of a bowsprit, projecting from the jaws of a marine head, and at the masthead is a fluttering white pennant, patterned with fleurs-de-lis.

The vase was purchased in 1759 at the end-of-year sale at Versailles by Madame de Pompadour for 960 livres. Madame de Pompadour is known to have owned three examples of this model; these formed important components of her sumptuously appointed apartments.

Painted in blue: interlaced LLs enclosing the date-letter F for 1758/9

Text adapted from French Porcelain for English Palaces, Sèvres from the Royal Collection, London, 2009