Pair of unusually large Chinese "Mazarin Blue" covered vases with magnificent ormolu mounts attributed to Charles Cressent. The Chinese covered vases are glazed in a rich purplish powder-blue glaze known as bleu mazarin, embellished with gilded decoration consisting of a diaper pattern border with floral motifs around the neck and melons and vines on the bodies. They are richly mounted in well cast and chased bronze doré. The cover has a top finial in the form of a large pomegranate surrounded by acanthus, scrolls, floral and scallop shell motifs and a simple ormoulu band held by flanges at the bottom. The neck of the vase has a large ormolu rim with a diaper pattern molding at the top consisting of alternating burnished cabochons and laurel motifs on a chased ground above a smaller band of reticulated circles in front of a plain separate back plate. Each shoulder mount is in the form of a large bust of a helmeted warrior, slightly turned outward, wearing a cuirass with an elaborate termination consisting of lambrequins, scrolls, acanthus and laurel motifs. The base has a band of rectangular cabochons raised on four lion paw feet, each below a shield composed of large acanthus leaves above a scallop shell.
Eighteenth century records reveal that Cressent made mounts for porcelain, for example, "Nº 103-4. Deux magnifiques pots pourris de porcelaine, garnis de bronze, dorés d’or moulu, tant aux pieds qu’aux cornets". (“Nº 103-4. Two magnificent porcelain pots pourris, embellished with bronze doré, from the feet as well as to the top.”) (See Pradère, quoted on page 241, from the Cressent auction catalogue of 1757.) [The Dictionaire critique de la langue française published in Marseille in 1787-88 defines cornette with an alternate meaning as “… all sort of dress for the head…” “…toute sorte d’habillement de tête…”
It is interesting to note that the ormolu circles beneath the rim are reticulated and there is a space between them and the ormolu band separately mounted behind them, which would allow the vases to look like and function as pots pourris.
The figural mounts on these vases are nearly identical to the “guerrier antique” corner mounts on desks by Cressent, for example, one in the Gulbenkian Collection and another at the Élysée Palace, the difference being that the present mounts are slightly more elaborate and are flatter in order to conform to the shape of the vases. [One vase repaired and with a small drilled hole below the rim; the other with two repaired breaks under the rim and with the gilded decoration rubbed. Both tops have two small holes, possibly for further mounts.]
Literature: Alexandre Pradère. Charles Cressent: Éditions Faton; Dijon, 2003. Page 241; two illustrations, page 242
Porcelain: Chinese, (Qianlong), 18th century Ormolu: French, mid 18th century