Exceptional pair of Chinese celadon porcelain ormolu-mounted vases


This outstanding pair of early 19th century celadon porcelain vases, adorned with ornate ormolu mounts and detailed depictions of mythical and natural elements, represents an exceptional fusion of French and Chinese craftsmanship.


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Fashioned from celadon porcelain, this magnificent pair of vases is a combination of the exceptional craftsmanship in China and France in the mid-19th Century, following the 18th century aristocratic tradition of embellishing Oriental porcelain with gilt mounts.

The vases, dating from the 1840s, are an example of the golden age of Chinese export, when trade with the West greatly increased while the quality of the pieces produced remained truthful to Chinese tradition. The vases’ surfaces are adorned with intricate illustrations, drawing from a fantastic world of nature and mythology. Among them, mythical birds, their feathers etched with fastidious detail, spread their wings in flight, inviting the observer into a world of ancient folklore. Butterflies add an extra layer of delightful whimsy to the vases' narrative, while depictions of flowers and foliage in an elegant construction around the birds contribute to the vases’ modern and airy look.

The modern feel of these pieces is further enhanced by the rich contrast of the green celadon porcelain with the shades of the decoration, which are orange, white, blue and red, creating an unusual combination for porcelain of the period.

The very fine quality ormolu mounts, also from the 1840s, complete these pieces and testify to the quality of French gilding in the period. The mounts are constructed around the case, its handles, which depict bacchante heads, engulfing the vases’ own. Bacchantes were the mythological female followers of Bacchus, the god of wine, and the mounts follow this theme, being further adorned with wonderfully detailed grapevines around the neck, supporting the handles. The mythological references in the ormolu work give a nod to the Chinese mythological elements in the porcelain and provide a captivating juxtaposition of the two cultures.

The lip and foot of each vase are also mounted with ormolu, fashioned in finely executed egg-and-dart and acanthus leaf decorative patterns, respectively.

These vases are very sought after by collectors of both French decorative arts and appreciators of Chinese porcelain and were sold at auction at Sotheby's Paris for €372,250, in 2008. (Sale PF8002, lot 122).


Sold at Sotheby's, Paris, on April 9th, 2008, sale PF8002: 'Important Furniture, Sculptures And Works Of Art', Lot 122, for €372,250. (Link here: https://www.sothebys.com/en/auctions/ecatalogue/2008/important-furniture-sculptures-and-works-of-art-pf8002/lot.122.html)


Country of Origin
Chinese, French
Date of Manufacture
c. 1840
Early 19th Century
Louis Philippe
Ormolu (Gilt Bronze), Porcelain


65.5 cm / 25.6 inches
32 cm / 12.6 inches
25 cm / 9.8 inches


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