Portraits of famous men were a popular decorative motif at Sèvres throughout much of the nineteenth century. This vase, originally one of a pair, is painted with a portrait of Raphael, the great artist of the Italian High Renaissance. Its mate, now lost, bore a portrait of his contemporary and fellow artist Michelangelo. Raphael's likeness is executed in a technique that imitates ancient cameos, a type of decoration that was perfected at the factory in the early nineteenth century. Portraits and various compositions executed in the imitation cameo technique were a common decorative scheme during the directorship of Alexandre Brongniart (1770–1847), whose great interest in mineralogy may have provided the impetus for this particular style of painting.
The Sèvres factory archives indicate that this vase and its pair were purchased by the French king Louis-Philippe and were delivered to the château of Saint-Cloud "for the service of the king and royal family" on August 23, 1834.
Inscription: Inscribed around portrait of Raphael: RAPHAËL SANZIO.; inscribed around palette: RUBENS/ POUSSIN/ LE TITIEN
Marking: Printed in blue under foot:  SÈVRES / 34 below a star; incised under foot:  tourneur marks including date 33-12
Château de Saint-Cloud, Seine-et-Oise, France (from August 23, 1834)