Pair of Ewers

pair of gilt-bronze pitchers, one adorned with a half-man, the other, a half-woman

Pair of Ewers, 1767
Pierre Gouthière (1732–1813)
Gilt bronze
Frick Art and Historical Center, Pittsburgh

Inscription on the base: fait par gouthiere ciseleur doreur / du roy quay pelletier 1767
(Made by Gouthiere Chaser Gilder / to the King Quay Pelletier 1767)

Gouthière had been a master chaser-gilder for nearly ten years when, on November 7, 1767, he received the title of gilder to the king “on the basis of testimony we possess as to the intelligence, ability and integrity of Mr. Gouthière, merchant gilder in Paris.” Over the next two months, he completed these two ewers, engraving his new title on the rectangular base of the mermaid-handled ewer. Bronze-makers rarely signed their works, but it was standard practice for goldsmiths and silversmiths to do so.

This ewer model was a great success, and several examples are known in different materials: porphyry (see the pair of ewers), white marble, verde antico, and boxwood root. Following a strategy gleaned in the workshop of François-Thomas Germain, with whom he worked in the 1760s, Gouthière developed models that could be reproduced and adapted — with alteration of the material of the vases and the finish of the gilt bronzes — to the tastes and budgets of various clients.

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