• China, c. 1750; France, mid-18th century (mount)
  • Celadon porcelain and bronze 
  • Inv. 124A/B/C

Three fish-shaped vases

These three pieces, showing individual or paired fish, are produced in valuable Chinese porcelain. The mounts, which were designed to heighten their value and satisfy the taste for chinoiseries that were so fashionable at the time, were produced in France, very probably in Paris, by an unknown craftsmen in richly chased and gilded bronze.

The rocaille motifs, such as aquatic plants, rocks, foam and shells, are in perfect harmony with the forms of the vases, while the shine of the gold heightens the enigmatic bluish-green that characterises celadon porcelain. The outer pieces of this decorative set consist of two carps with raised tails that are transformed into vases, while the centre is formed by two facing carp that are mounted in such a way as to suggest a fountain.

Pieces like these were greatly appreciated during the 18th century and reveal the attraction felt for the exoticism of Oriental themes.

Acquired by Calouste Gulbenkian through Gudenian, Christie's, London, 8 July 1920.

Lisbon 1998

A Arte e o Mar, exhibition catalogue. Lisbon: Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, 1998, p. 121, no. 88.

Lisbon 2001

Calouste Gulbenkian Museum. Lisbon: Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, 2001, p. 126, cat. 100.

Updated on 09 june 2022

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