Pot-pourri à Vaisseau

green and gilt porcelain vase in the shape of a masted ship, with intricate decorations

Pot-pourri à Vaisseau
Sèvres Porcelain Manufactory
French, ca. 1759
Soft-paste porcelain
17 1/2 x 14 7/8 x 7 1/2 in. (44.5 x 37.8 x 19.1 cm)
Henry Clay Frick Bequest, 1916

The highly original design for this pot-pourri à vaisseau (potpourri in the form of a ship) was created in 1757, most likely by the Sèvres manufactory’s artistic director, Jean-Claude Duplessis. The piece can be dated to about 1759, the year that Sèvres began producing potpourri ships of this size (initially, they were smaller). The painters and gilders responsible for its decoration juxtaposed grounds of apple green and dark blue, the latter enriched with gold in a caillouté (pebble-like) pattern. The colorful imagery and exotic birds on the front and back reserves are by Louis-Denis Armand l’aîné (act. 1745−88), a prominent artist who specialized in painting birds and landscapes. Armand also painted the birds on the two vases à oreilles shown here. Gold, the use of which was exclusive to the Sèvres manufactory, is generously applied along the contours of the piece to emphasize its bold shape.

One of the most celebrated pieces ever created by the Sèvres manufactory and also one of the most technically challenging to produce, the pot-pourri à vaisseau is known from ten differently decorated examples (five of each size) made between 1757 and 1764 and today housed in the some of the most important collections. The early history of the Frick piece is unknown, but it certainly belonged to a wealthy aristocrat or financier. Madame de Pompadour owned two of them, and the Prince de Condé had one.


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