The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
  • Vase
  • Jacques Adam , Sculptor
  • Probably Charles de Wailly (1730 - 1798), Designer
    Robert-Joseph Auguste (1723 - 1805), Bronze Chaser
    Jean Lafeuillade, Gilder
  • France
  • 1761-3
  • Porphyry and gilt bronze
  • Height: 55 cm
    Width: 76 cm
  • F354
  • Grand Staircase
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • Designed by the architect Charles de Wailly (1730-98) for Marc-René d’Argenson, marquis de Voyer (1722-1782), a distinguished soldier who had also been director of the royal stud farms, this vase and its associated pedestal were displayed in the sumptuous Hôtel de Voyer in Paris which was remodelled in an advanced neo-classical style by de Wailly in early 1760s. Tremendous skill was required to carve porphyry, a very hard rock first used in ancient Egypt and later beloved by the Romans. The vase was an old one, considered to be Antique, in the marquis de Voyer's possession but remodelled to de Wailly's designs by Jacques Adam (maitre 1746), best known for his later collaboration with Pierre Gouthiere on pedestals, chimney-pieces and a table for the duchess de Mazarin.

    De Wailly had studied at the French Academy in Rome and these designs are some of the first and most important early neoclassical works of French decorative art. His statement of account indicates that he employed some of the foremost artists of the day, who went on to become celebrated for their work in the neoclassical style. The mounts of the vase were chased by the goldsmith, Robert-Joseph August (1723-1905), who may perhaps have cast them as well, working after sculptural models by Augustin Pajou (1730-1809). The mounts were fire-gilded by Jean Lafeuillade (maitre 1747).

    The pedestal on which it stands (F291) and the porphyry vase were recorded by Sir William Chambers in a drawing, annotated 'Various decorations in the Hôtel de Voyer, Ecole Militaire &tc', probably executed in 1774.