These large and impressive Chinese Canton vases are elaborately decorated with typical Chinese-themed subjects on a green ground (known for antique Chinese items as famille-verte). The panels alternately depict Chinese figural court scenes, as well as birds and butterflies flying around floral sprigs. The famille-verte borders are intricately detailed with scrolling patterns, butterflies, flowers and gilded highlights. They are set on French gilt bronze square-shaped bases and the open tops have circular ormolu rims.
In 19th Century China (and earlier), porcelain vases in this style were produced in order to satisfy the growing demand coming from the West. These pieces are known as Chinese export porcelain. They were either sold in China- without being altered- to wealthy foreign visitors wanting to take a souvenir to remember their time in China; or alternatively- like this pair of vases- they were produced and directly exported to countries like France, where there they would be fitted with fine quality ormolu mounts made by master craftsmen to perfectly fit the Chinese vases. In addition to porcelain, the Chinese exported artefacts made from silver, bronze, enamel, ivory, glass and wood for the same purposes.
The porcelain Chinese, the ormolu French, 19th Century.