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Collector’s Porphyry

Published on , by Claire Papon et Sophie Reyssat
Auction on 18 November 2022 - 13:30 (CET) - Salle 5-6 - Hôtel Drouot - 75009

These Egyptian porphyry vases are sure to appeal to art lovers. Given their rarity, high-quality material and provenance, there could well be a surprising result.

Louis XIV period. Pair of lidded vases in Egyptian porphyry, h. 53 cm/20.9. Diam.... Collector’s Porphyry

Louis XIV period. Pair of lidded vases in Egyptian porphyry, h. 53 cm/20.9. Diam. 36 cm/14.2 in.
Estimate: €200,000/300,000

This pair belonged to the collections of textile industrialist James Morrison (1789-1857) and then of his descendants, at Fonthill Splendens, a country manor in Wiltshire (England) built by alderman William Beckford between 1755 and 1770, and subsequently modified. While it is customary to have portraits of distinguished people and antique furniture, vases such as these are just as indispensable. Two inventory numbers suggest they were part of a group of four; they are similar to a set similar to the one here, which belonged to the Rothschild collections.

Porphyry is a very hard, very noble stone mined since antiquity from the Abu Dokhan Jebel quarries near the Red Sea in Egypt. The material was exhausted by the 5th century and was then reused, notably by Roman lapidaries, in the form of pieces taken from buildings. Highly sought after by the aristocracy and the princely courts of Europe, porphyry vases were also prized by Louis XIV, Richelieu and Mazarin, who brought them to the court. In the late 18th century, porphyry deposits were discovered in Sweden and Russia. This material differed in color and grain. As it was scarce, objects were made in smaller sizes and set in gilt bronze mounts. But the ones here need no such adornment.

Friday 18 November 2022 - 13:30 (CET) - Live
Salle 5-6 - Hôtel Drouot - 75009
Beaussant Lefèvre & Associés
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