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Neo-classical tripod vases such as this were inspired by the antique bronze tripods found during excavations at Herculaneum and Pompeii from the 1740s onwards and illustrated in many eighteenth-century folio editions such as the Comte de Caylus' Recueil d'antiquités égyptiennes, étruscanes, grecques et romaines, published in 7 volumes from 1752. Interestingly, one of the comte de Caylus’ protégés was the architect François-Joseph Belanger, who established the workshop for cutting and mounting hardstones in the Hôtel des Menus-Plaisirs. The tripod you can see here consists of shallow marble vase supported on a gilt-bronze tripod with satyrs’ heads at the top of the legs and cloven hooves at the bottom resting on a base of griotte marble. The legs are each cast and chased with a wide channel at the front enclosing a thyrsus (a staff associated with Dionysus or Bacchus, the god of wine, and his followers), bound with ivy in low relief against a matted ground. Within each tripod is a central twisted gilt-bronze shaft entwined by a serpent, symbol of Asclepius, god of healing and medicine. The mounts can be attributed to Pierre-Philippe Thomire (1751-1843, master 1772) and dated to 1785-6. They are similar to those on a mounted vase of dark blue Chinese porcelain in the Royal Collection. The vase and it's pair F342 is recorded at the 4th Marquess’ Parisian apartment at 3 rue Taitbout in 1871 (a year after his death) and in the Vestibule at Hertford House by 1890.
1785 - 1786
Marble, porphyry and gilt bronze
Images and text © Wallace Collection, 2017

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The Wallace Collection
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