Malmaison Acquires Two Pots-pourris


11/4/14 - Acquisitions - Musée national du châteaux de Malmaison et Bois-Préau - "The beauty of the work goes beyond anything of the kind ever seen before" [1] and a fortunate event, as these two vases were a diplomatic gift from Louise of Prussia to the Empress Josephine, in an attempt to bring their respective countries closer together. Prussia’s commitment was an important factor in the relations between France and Russia at the time ; Napoleon and Frederick-William III finally signed the Schönbrunn treaty of 15 December 1805 after the victory at Austerlitz.


Vase pot-pourri, c. 1803-1804
Berlin royal factory
Porcelain, gilt bronze - H. 50 cm, D. 22.3 cm
Rueil-Malmaison, Musée national des châteaux
de Malmaison et Bois-Préau
Photo : Malmaison

Vase pot-pourri, c. 1803-1804
Berlin royal factory
Porcelain, gilt bronze - H. 50 cm, D. 22.3 cm
Rueil-Malmaison, Musée national des châteaux
de Malmaison et Bois-Préau
Photo : Dorotheum


As suggested by their openwork cover in gilt bronze, these two vases are in fact pots-pourris. The commission was made in 1803 - Berlin’s Royal Factory rivaling with the one at Sèvres - and the pieces were offered in 1805, eliciting the admiration of visitors to Malmaison where they were displayed in the Salon de musique. Their décor shows views of the château and reflects the changes made by Josephine at the time in the park : Jean-Marie Morel notably, succeeding Percier and Fontaine, had undertaken the construction of a Swiss chalet in 1802, three houses on the shores of the Saint-Cucufa pond in 1804 which were used as a cowshed, a dairy and the herder’s home. Finally, a greenhouse was completed in 1805 by Thibault and Vignon. We also catch a glimpse of an aviary along the river.
The drawings held in the archives of the Berlin factory were perhaps produced by the architect David Gilly (1748-1808) who collaborated with the factory and traveled to Paris in 1803-1804.
The pots-pourris were believed to be lost but they resurfaced at an auction at the Dorotheum on 13 October 211, where they sold for 455,800€ to the Neuse gallery in Brême which bid higher than the museum. Currently on view at the exhibition "Josephine" [2], they were finally acquired just recently by Malmaison thanks to Axa’s cultural patronage for the price of 790,000€.

Version française


Bénédicte Bonnet Saint-Georges, vendredi 11 avril 2014


Notes

[1] Journal des Débats of 23 ventôse an XIII (14 March 1805), quoted in the exhibition catalogue, "Josephine", p. 158.

[2] "Josephine", Paris, Musée du Luxembourg, from 12 March to 29 June 2014.



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