V&A Search the Collections

vase 'Carrache'

  • Object:

    Vase and cover

  • Place of origin:

    Sèvres (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1768-9 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Genest, Jean-Baptiste-Etienne (enameller)
    Sèvres porcelain factory (manufacturer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Porcelain, painted, relief, glazed, gilt; with ormolu plinth

  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by John Jones

  • Museum number:

    748A/1, 2-1882

  • Gallery location:

    Ceramics, Room 139, The Curtain Foundation Gallery, case W, shelf 4 []

  • Public access description

    The most important French porcelain factory was founded in 1740 in the royal chateau of Vincennes. In 1756 it was transferred to Sèvres, to the south-west of Paris, and shortly after was bought by the king, Louis XV. The Sèvres factory was conviently located on the road to Versailles, the seat of royal power. The support and protection of the king and his mistress, Madame de Pompadour, enabled the factory to secure the best artists, sculptors, designers and chemists. The porcelain made there soon became the most sought after in Europe.

    In the eighteenth century, vases were often displayed on furniture or chimney-pieces, usually in front of a mirror. Rosalind Savill, in her catalogue of the Wallace Collection Sèvres porcelain states that Louis XVI's inventory of porcelain at Versailles shows Sèvres in most rooms, including sets of vases, or garnitures, as they were known. A plaster model of a variant of this shape in the Sèvres factory archives, inscribed 'vase Carrache', was published by Albert Troude in 1897, however surviving examples are extremely rare. Its use of pilasters, laurel swags and medallions painted in grey tones to imitate carved marble (known as en grisaille), is typical of French neo-classical style of the 1770s. The decorative scheme on these vases may have been designed by the head of the painters' workshop, Jean-Baptiste-Etienne Genest who is recorded painting vases and other items with this type of decoration from about 1770. Unfortunately his work cannot be identified for certain as, being the workshop head, he wasn't required to put his mark on the pieces he decorated, as was usual for other painters.

    This pair of vases was among eighty-nine pieces of Sèvres porcelain bequeathed with a collection especially rich in eighteenth-century French decorative art by John Jones in 1882. As the handbook to the Jones Collection stated in 1883: "Suddenly ... a collection has been given ... which contains the very objects so much to be desired, and, as it seemed a year ago, so hopeless of attainment." A military tailor who made his fortune during the Crimean War, Jones (1799-1882) started collecting seriously in the 1850s, sharing a taste for luxury objects of the ancien regime with aristocratic collectors such as the 4th Marquess of Hertford and Sir Richard Wallace (founders of London's Wallace Collection), John Bowes (of The Bowes Museum, County Durham), and Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild (of Waddesdon Manor, Buckinghamshire).

  • Physical description

    Vase and cover, one of a pair. Porcelain, gros-bleu, elongated form, painted with medallion heads en camaïeu, and decorated with raised and gilt festoons and mouldings. It has an ormolu plinth.

  • Marks and inscriptions

    Interlaced L's, in blue enamel

  • Dimensions

    Height: 41.3 cm, Diameter: 13.3 cm

  • Object history note

    One of a pair with 748:1, 2-1882.

  • Descriptive line

    Vase and cover, one of a pair, porcelain on an ormolu plinth; Sèvres porcelain factory, Paris, France, ca. 1768-9

  • Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

    King, William. Catalogue of the Jones Collection, II, Ceramics, ormolu, goldsmiths' work, enamels, sculpture, tapestry, books, and prints. Victoria and Albert Museum: 1924. 19 p., no. 144A, ill. plate 21.
    Garnier, Édouard. La porcelaine tendre de Sèvres, Paris, Maison Quintan, 1891. This vase, or its pair, is illustrated plate XXI.
    Maxwell, Christopher. French Porcelain of the Eighteenth Century. V & A Publishing, 2009. Cat. 81 (with its pair), pp. 90-91
    Troude, Albert. Choix de Modèles de la Manufacture de Porcelaines de Sèvres, Paris: Librairie des Arts Décoratifs, edited by A. Calavas, 1897. See pl. 84, Vase Carrache, for a variation of this shape.
    Savill, Rosalind. The Wallace Collection: Catalogue of Sèvres Porcelain, 3 vols. London: Trustees of the Wallace Collection, 1988. See vol III, pp. 1035-7 for biographical details of Genest, a painter and head of the painters' workshop. In 1768-9 the overtime records show he was paid for painting grisailles on a garniture of fifteen vases sold to the court in 1769.

  • Collection code

    Ceramics Collection