Elephant-head vase (vase à tête d'éléphant)

Manufactory Sèvres Manufactory French
Designer Jean-Claude Duplessis French

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 529

This remarkable Sèvres porcelain elephant-head vase is one of six in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, four of which were given by Charles and Jayne Wrightsman. Presumably due to the technical challenges and cost of making these vases, relatively few were produced at Sèvres, all which date to the years around 1760; nineteen examples are known in public collections today.

The mate to this vase is at Waddesdon Manor, Buckinghamshire. The decoration on the Waddesdon vase is extremely similar, though its spiraling decoration twists to the right to complement the left-twisting decoration on the Wrightsman vase. The undersides of both vases are painted with green and gold bands, presumably intended to disguise firing flaws in the base of each.
1983.185.9, its mate at Waddesdon, and two elephant-head vases in the Wallace Collection, London (C246-7) are the only four known examples of the model designated Shape A (without handles) by Savill (p. 161).

Elephant-head vase (vase à tête d'éléphant), Sèvres Manufactory (French, 1740–present), Soft-paste porcelain decorated in polychrome enamels, gold, French, Sèvres

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