The Grand Medici Vase Sèvres 1783
One of my favorite pieces of porcelain at the Louvre is a large over 6 foot high 18th century Sèvres porcelain vase in the antique Medici Vase form, greatly admired in France since the seventeenth century when Colbert commissioned copies for Versailles. This vase was commissioned by the Earl of Angiviller of the Garde-Meuble of Crown and delivered to Louis XVI & Marie Antoinette at Versailles in 1783.
It is the largest Sevres porcelain vase made in the eighteenth century thanks to the strength of hard paste porcelain. Louis-Simon Boizot (1773-1809) designed the shape and Neoclassical decoration in bisque porcelain. The bronzes are the work of Pierre-Philippe Thomire (1751-1843). Placed in the castle of Saint-Cloud in 1807, the vessel received its pedestal in 1840 at the request of Louis-Philippe. The model is the sculptor Henry Triqueti (1804-1874).
Design by Louis-Simon Boizot
Louis-Simon Boizot was appointed head of the sculpture workshop of the Manufacture de Sevres in 1773. He gave many models of sculptures and vases, but his name has been immortalized by this monumental vase in the Musée du Louvre. It was possible to achieve such a vessel through the use of hard porcelain. Boizot designed the form called "Medici" which he used to showcase the band of relief bisque which runs along the neck. The vase is composed of several elements. The headband biscuit is made in one piece that caused difficulties in manufacturing requiring exceptional agility and technical skill in execution. On one side the relief represents Diane awarding the prize of the hunt and the other a surprise Diane Endymion. The rest of the vase is glazed cobalt blue. This combination of glazed porcelain and matt biscuit is a major feature of the style of Louis XVI at Sevres.
Bronze ormolu by Pierre-Philippe Thomire
The minutely chased gold gilt and antiqued bronze figure prominently in the decoration of this vase. Inspired by neoclassical friezes they include ovals, palm leaves, acanthus leaves and garlands of flowers hanging on the handles on which stand two women dressed in antique. With this vase, Thomire began his illustrious career at Sevres. This large vase was intended to form a pair. The second vessel was to receive a decoration in low relief depicting The Toilet of Venus, on the one hand, and Venus on the water, on the other. The band was never completed due to technical problems and was replaced by a bronze decoration also Thomire. This second Grand Vase is kept at the Pitti Palace in Florence. In addition to the Louvre museum houses a large reduction of these two vases.
The pedestal according to Henry Triqueti
In the eighteenth century, the vase was presented without base. This pedestal was commissioned by Louis-Philippe (1773-1850) to complement the vase at the Chateau de Saint-Cloud. The vase was housed in the Apollo Gallery of the castle of St. Cloud from 1807 to 1853. The model is the work of Henri de Triqueti. The base is confined to heads of deer bronze patina. Above a frieze bisque is made with allegorical figures about the four elements. The main body of each face is a square plate Bisque and supervision of foliage plants in ormolu porcelain blue background. This decor combining biscuit porcelain enameled in blue and gilt bronze may have been suggested by Alexandre Brongniart (director of the factory from 1800 to 1847) to match the vase which incorporates the decorative. The decor of this basement is borrowed from ancient times to the directory and the Renaissance, emblematic association of the July Monarchy and especially Triqueti.
The Grand Medici Vase Sèvres 1783
The second Grand vase was to receive a decoration in low relief depicting The Toilet of Venus, on the one hand, and Venus on the water, on the other. The band was never completed due to technical problems and was replaced by a bronze decoration also Thomire. This second Grand Vase is kept at the Pitti Palace in Florence.