An exceptional setting

The two pieces share the same characteristics. In excellent condition, they have never been exhibited outside. Their square bases, with their angled holes, lead us to believe that the vases could have been fixed on a support. With their baluster shape and their exceptional height of approximately one metre, these vases are architectural in style, designed to fit in an imposing setting. These flame vases were undoubtedly fixed on a guardrail or at one end of the banister of a great staircase, in a town house, for example. At one point in their history, the two vases were transformed into fountains with a hole drilled into their bellies. If faience fountains are designed at the outset to house a tap - a mascaron often indicates its location - it is not the same for flame vases. Their bellies are generally decorated with unbroken acanthi. The hole made to insert a copper tap disturbs the layout. As for the vase restored by the Museum, the opening has been refilled at an unknown time; as for the other one, the copper tap was still in place when it was bought. We chose to remove the tap which was probably installed at a later date, so as to return the work to its first function of decorative vase. The holes drilled in these two vases could have been made with the same tool: their diameter is identical. This observation has an important consequence as it leads us to assume that the vases were part of the same collection, that they had been transformed at the same time and then sold separately between the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th. This change of function could have been brought about by a new fashion or by the will to transform two decorative vases into utilitarian ones.