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Past Exhibition

Pair of Vases Duplessis

pair of blue and white gilt vases with handles, decorated with cherubs eating grapes

Pair of Vases Duplessis à Enfants
Vincennes Porcelain Manufactory
French, 1753
Soft-paste porcelain 
At left: 8 3/8 x 5 3/4 x 5 3/4 in. (21.3 x 14.6 x 14.6 cm)
At right: 8 3/8 x 5 7/8 x 5 7/8 in. (21.3 x 14.9 x 14.9 cm)
Henry Clay Frick Bequest, 1918

The earliest pieces of French porcelain in the museum’s collection, this pair of vases was made in 1753, when the porcelain manufactory was located in the royal château of Vincennes, east of Paris. Named after Jean-Claude Duplessis, who invented their unusual shape around 1750, such vases were sometimes produced with chubby little children in relief, as seen here. Symbolic of the four seasons, these figures are almost certainly modeled after drawings by François Boucher. On one side, Summer grasps a sheaf of wheat as Autumn raises to his lips a vine laden with grapes. On the other side, Spring holds a garland of flowers while Winter rests on his companion’s thigh, warming his hands over glowing twigs. These figures were painted by Antoine Caton (act. 1749–98), who only a few years earlier began his long career at the porcelain manufactory. Caton became a prolific genre painter of a wide range of subjects, including military, historical, mythological, and pastoral scenes.