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

Two vases – Louis XV era

Two vases in blue china, adorned with chiselled, gilded bronze elements.

Wrightsman Collection
Location : Metropolitan Museum of Art, N.Y.

Paire de vases en porcelaine de chine, LouisXV

These pieces blend together traditions from two very distant lands. The body of each vase is made with blue china from the Ch’ien-lung era. They were then embellished by 18th century Parisian craftsmen who added a gilded bronze mount at the base, framing pieces and handles on the sides. Adding bronze to china pieces imported by the East India Company grew into a very lucrative business opportunity for Parisian marchands-merciers. With this technique, they repurposed porcelain pieces that had been damaged during the journey by concealing the defect with bronze ornaments. These marchants-merciers also gave these objects a new purpose, turning them into decorative censers and pot-pourri vases.

Soon, this technique became very popular and porcelain pieces were adorned with bronze elements, whether or not they had been damaged.