A Louis XVI gilt bronze and onyx vase

A Louis XVI gilt bronze-mounted onyx vase 
 the vase probably Italian late 17th Century, the mounts circa 1780

Height: 41.5 cm. (16 ¼ in.)    Width: 27 cm. (10 ½ in.) 

This sumptuous vase perfectly illustrates the passion for collecting rare marbles and precious stones in Parisian society in the 18th Century. Stones were imported from Italy where they were often re-worked in Parisian ateliers and then given rich gilt bronze mounts to fit the taste of the day.

The most important collector of this kind was the duc d’Aumont (1709-1782), who amassed an enormous collection of hard stones, many of with specially commissioned mounts by the master bronzier, Pierre Gouthière. The garlands on this vase have close similarities with gilt bronzes on a pair of hardstone vases supplied by Gouthière to the Duke, illustrated in C. Vignon and C. Baulez, Pierre Gouthière, Virtuoso Gilder at the French Court, New York, 2016, pp. 184-185. 

Other pietra dura vases in the Louvre and in the Wallace Collection have very similar cloven feet as well as another marble example sold Sotheby’s Monaco, 7 February 1982, lot 360.

(The cover is a modern replacement)