A pair of Empire gilt bronze and enamel ewers

A pair of Empire gilt bronze and blue and gilt
enamel ewers circa 1800-1805

Height: 54 cm. (21 ¼ in)    Width: 14.4 cm. (5 ¾ in.)    Depth: 14.4 cm. (5 ¾ in.)


Each with body enamelled in cobalt blue with gilt stars, with hippocampus-form handle ending in a ram’s mask, the central collar moulded with winged sphinxes and leopards, on a square griotte marble base.


Provenance :

Jay P. Altmayer Collection, Palmetto Hall, Alabama

These distinctive handles, headed by winged horses and ending in ram’s heads, directly copy the handle on a design for a ewer published as plate 16, no. 4 of Recueil de decorations intérieures, Paris, 1801, by Charles Percier (1764-1838) and Pierre-François-Leonard Fontaine (1762-1853). 

The use of blue-ground enamel, here with scattered gilt stars, is rare in the late 18th and early 19th Century. It appears principally on the dials of skeleton clocks from the period and is usually the work of the most renowned enamellers such as Coteau and Dubuisson. Notable examples of this type of decoration can be found on exceptional works made for the Spanish Court, including the lower section of a clock/chandelier in the Moncloa Palace signed by Godon after designs by Dugourc (reproduced in J. Ramón Colón de Carvajal, Catalogo de Relojes del Patrimonio Nacional, Madrid: Editorial Patrimonia Nacional, 1987, p. 106) and the globe on a massive clock with the Allegory of Time, circa 1798-1800, also signed by Godon in the Royal Palace, Madrid (reproduced in A. A. Huete, La medida del tiempo: relojes de reyes en la corte espanola del siglo XVIII, Madrid, Patrimonia Nacional, 2011, p. 117, figs. 59 and 60).