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By Gille Jeune (French, 1798-1868)
Of unusually large size, these stunning vases by the celebrated Parisian porcelain maker Gille Jeune would add glamour and prestige to any collection.
These very fine vases are of typical ovoid form with elaborate scrolling twin handles. They are heavily gilt all over; the grounds formed with an intricate purple design. The vases have circular rims, conical lower sections with chased floral patterns and are set on square plinth bases. The front panels depict two scenes from the celebrated novel 'Paul et Virginie' by Bernardin de Saint Pierre (French, 1737-1814), which was first published in 1788. The two panels to the reverse each depict an exquisite bunch of blooming flowers tied together. The underside of one of the bases has a partially rubbed black inscription 'Gille. jeune f(abricant)t. / Porcelaine'.
The 1788 anthropological novel, Paul et Virginie, portrays the contemporary doomed amorous tale of these two characters who were brought up together in Mauritius (under French rule) by their mothers.
The two painted scenes to the front of each vase are after the artist Henri Frédéric Schopin (French, 1804-1880). One scene depicts the desperate couple in the Mauritian forest having just heard that Virginie must shortly leave to go to France, with Virginie praying at the front and Paul looking away in despair; Fidele, their dog is shown next to them and there is a young man running towards them in the background. The scene on the other vase is known as Les Adieux (The Farewell), depicting Virginie seated and holding Paul's hand- both in sombre mood- with the forest opening to the right and the port in the background.
Les Adieux was painted by Schopin in 1842 and, as well as the other scene shown in these vases, the artist painted various other events from Paul et Virginie. Two of Schopin's paintings are known to have been exhibited at the Paris Salon in 1843 (numbers 1091 and 1092)- it is likely that these were the original paintings depicted on the present two vases. The vases would have probably been commissioned - whilst the paintings were exhibited to the public - with a collector instructing Gille Jeune to recreate them in porcelain. We can therefore date these vases to circa 1843.
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