Pair of Incense Burners

pair of porcelain incense burners held on gilt bronze legs and pedestals

Pair of Incense Burners, ca. 1775
Gilt bronze by Pierre Gouthièr (1732–1813)
After a design by François-Joseph Bélanger (1744–1818)
Japanese Kakiemon porcelain, eighteenth century
Hard-paste porcelain, porphyry, and gilt bronze
Private collection

At the time of his death in April 1782, the Duke of Aumont owned more than four hundred pieces of oriental porcelain, which, along with his hardstone pieces, were the pride of his collection. Eight of them received mounts by Gouthière. Here, as elsewhere, Gouthière’s gilt bronzes enhanced and transformed already highly prized objects.

In 1767, the duke acquired the bowl painted with a bird at the sale of the famous collector Jean de Julienne, director of the Gobelins tapestry manufactory. We do not know where or when he bought the second bowl, decorated with dragons and pomegranates, but it was probably this purchase that justified replacing the “well-composed” mount of Julienne’s bowl with new ones by Gouthière that would better suit the taste of the day and that of their new owner. The gilt-bronze mounts by Gouthière also allowed Aumont to create a matching pair using similar objects that had been bought at different times.

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