Lapidary workshop: Hôtel des Menus-Plaisirs, Versailles
probably by François Joseph Belanger (French, Paris 1744–1818 Paris)
lapidary work probably by Augustin Bocciardi (ca. 1729–1797)
attributed to Pierre Philippe Thomire (French, Paris 1751–1843 Paris)
after 1771–72, mounts ca. 1780
French, Versailles and Paris
Egyptian porphyry, gilt-bronze mounts
H. (vase) 41 1/4 in. (104.8 cm); H. (stand) 35 5/8 in. (90.5 cm); Diam. 16 3/8 in. (41.6 cm)
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Wrightsman, 1971
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 524
Louis-Marie-Augustin, duc d’Aumont, assembled an impressive collection of marble and hardstone vases, urns, columns, and other artworks. After a visit on October 10, 1775, to the duke’s Paris residence, Horace Walpole noted admiringly in his journal: “2 millions in tables, columns, lustres and china. 2 beautiful porphyry tables with legs of same in ormolu exquisite by Gouthière who works only for him.” Most of those luxurious furnishings were sold at a public auction following the owner’s death. According to the sale catalogue, the duke had assiduously hunted down the rarest marbles and hardstones in Rome and throughout Italy. Those materials had been transported to Versailles, where Aumont had established a stone-cutting workshop at the Hôtel des Menus-Plaisirs, the office responsible for organizing the court entertainments. François-Joseph Bélanger, a prominent architect and designer, was the artistic director of the workshop, and it is very likely that he was responsible for the design of this imposing vase and its base, which are almost certainly carved from a single column found at an ancient Roman ruin. Unlike the mounts of the porphyry tables seen by Walpole, the gilt-bronze decoration of the Museum’s vase and column is not attributed to Gouthière but to the sculptor and bronze worker Pierre-Philippe Thomire. The ram’shead handles and swags of vine leaves and grapes that embellish the vase are symbolic of the wine god Bacchus.
 Walpole 1937–83, vol. 7 (1939), p. 353.
possibly Louis Marie Augustin, duc d'Aumont de Rochebaron ; Mr. and Mrs. Charles Wrightsman , New York (until 1971; to MMA)
Artist: pedestal and mounts by Pierre Philippe Thomire (French, Paris 1751–1843 Paris)Date: early 19th century (lapidary work); 1819 (pedestal and mounts)Medium: Russian malachite, composite filling material; gilt-bronze mounts; bronze pedestalAccession: 44.152a, bOn view in:Gallery 553