green porphyry vase decorated with gilt-bronze seated female figures on either side

Vase, ca. 1775–80
Gilt bronze by Pierre Gouthière (1732–1813)
Porphyry possibly carved by Augustin Bocciardi (1719–1797) or Pierre-Jean-Baptiste Delaplanche
After a design by François-Joseph Bélanger (1744–1818)
Green Greek porphyry and gilt bronze
Musée du Louvre, Paris; transfer from the Mobilier National, 1901

Here, Gouthière created elegant mounts in the shape of two seated female figures, looking in opposite directions. Though at first glance they seem identical, these small figures were made from two separate molds. One, representing a female satyress, wears a crown of ivy and holds a branch of the same; the second figure, a mermaid covered in drapery, wears a crown of laurels and clutches a laurel branch. Gouthière’s chasing techniques allowed him to vary the texture of these mounts, breathing life into their expressions and transforming decorative elements into sculptures in their own right. His famous matte-gilding technique gives a soft hue to the skin of the female figures, contrasting with the burnished elements, such as the draperies.

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