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Work Pair of vases

Department of Decorative Arts: 19th century

Paire de vases

© 1990 RMN / Daniel Arnaudet

Decorative Arts
19th century

Barbier Muriel

The brothers Henri and François Nast took over the porcelain manufactory that bears their name following their father's death in 1817. Derived from Greek amphorae, the form of these two vases demonstrates the perfection attained by the manufactory's workshops. Such skill enabled the Nast brothers to rival the production of the Manufacture de Sèvres, causing the utter dismay of the latter's director, Alexandre Brongniart (1770-1847).

A well-liked model

The model for this pair of vases was introduced at the 1819 'Exposition des Produits des Manufactures' and illustrated in the 'Annales de l'Industrie' with an engraving. It was then white with decoration painted in relief. At the 1823 Exhibition, the Nast manufactory again presented this type of vase, and King Louis XVIII purchased two of them. This pair was very similar to the one in the Louvre, except that one vase was adorned with a view of Italy, and the other with a view of Lake Trasimeno. The pieces in the Musée du Louvre had remained in the family of the manufacturer. In the form of amphorae, they are each mounted on a stem and equipped with handles in the shape of winged female figures. This very elegant form is modeled after the antique.

Perfect decoration

These two vases are the quintessential expression of the art of the Nast brothers. Set on a purple ground, two geometric panels depict, in the case of one vase, the origin of architecture, and in the other, that of the Corinthian capital. These scenes, inspired from the paintings of Jean-Victor Bertin engraved by Charles Ransonnette around 1800-2, are again a reference to Antiquity. The painted decoration, of the finest quality, is matched with thick gilding, alternating dull and brilliant zones to bring out the reliefs. The ornaments thus seem to be made of bronze. The quality of the painted and gilt décor, the art of combining paint and gilding and finally the determination not to use anything but porcelain are all characteristic of the style of the Nast brothers.

The fury of Brongniart

Because they are made exclusively of porcelain, these vases represent a technical feat. Even for the handles, which are the most delicate parts, the Nast brothers declined to use gilt bronze. This insistance on creating vases made of porcelain only absolutely maddened Alexandre Brongniart, the director of the Manufacture de Sèvres since 1800. Indeed, the Sèvres workshops were still unable at that point to produce vases of such size without the addition of gilt bronze mounts. Moreover, Brongniart was piqued to see King Louis XVIII purchase these types of vases from the Nast brothers. For him, the King was to have no suppliers but the establishments of which he was the protector. Louis XVIII nevertheless continued to be "disloyal" to the Royal Manufactory.


Catalogue d'exposition : "Dernières acquisitions du département des Objets d'art du Louvre 1990-1994", Paris, 1995, pp. 262-264
Catalogue d'exposition : "Un Age d'or des arts décoratifs 1814-1848", Paris, Éditions de la Réunion des musées nationaux, 1991, pp. 144-145
Catalogue d'exposition : "D'Après l'Antique", Paris, Éditions de la Réunion des musées nationaux, 2000, p. 8

Technical description

  • Manufacture Nast frères

    Paire de vases

    Vers 1820

    Paris, rue des Amandiers

  • Porcelaine dure

    H. : 71 cm. ; L. : 31 cm.

  • Don de la Société des Amis du Louvre, 1990 , 1990

    Cartels d'après Jean-Victor Bertin : Origine de l'architecture ; Origine du chapiteau corinthien

    OA 11267, OA 11268

  • Decorative Arts

    Richelieu wing
    1st floor
    Claude Ott
    Room 77
    Vitrine 1

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