IN THE MUSEUMS : Metropolitan Museum of Art, N.Y.

Porphyry vase  – Louis XVI era

Large, oblong porphyry vase, adorned with chiselled, gilded bronze ornaments.

Location : Metropolitan Museum of Art, N.Y.

The size of this porphyry vase is just as impressive as its bronze ornaments.

Porphyry is a stone that has been exploited by men since ancient times; it symbolises many things. It is very difficult to work with; its hardness symbolises excellence and eternal life, and its colour symbolises imperial glory.

Since the dawn of time, porphyry has been used by monarchs to assert their power, the perennial nature of their reign and the talent of their craftsmen. In this case, the natural beauty of the stone is enhanced by chiselled, gilded bronze ornaments that serve as handles. They are shaped like ram heads that are connected by flower garlands.