c. 1862

made by

Firm of Ferdinand Barbedienne

(French, 1810–1892)

designed by

Louis-Constant Sévin

(French, 1821–1888)

Gilt bronze with enamel decoration

Overall: 78.7 x 27.3 cm (31 x 10 3/4 in.)

The Severance and Greta Millikin Purchase Fund 1996.295


In style, the vase is resoundingly eclectic. It derives its form from a slightly modified ancient Greek amphora-a two-handled jar having a narrow neck. Contemporaries described its style as neo-grec (new Greek) or Byzantine. Today, however, we would not choose those terms. It is true that the surface decoration of the vase is based upon the scrolling pattern of a classical acanthus design-an arrangement of leaves and flowers-but the sharp, spiky details point to possible Islamic modifications of this pattern. The colors of the enamels are related to medieval European examples, particularly 12th-century Netherlandish work from the Mosan region. The decoration of this vase exemplifies a technical innovation introduced by the Barbedienne firm around 1860. In casting the metal from which the piece is formed, many small grooves were created on its surface. Later these grooves and other broader recessed areas were filled with colored enamels to create a predetermined ornamental design.

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