Arcadi Gaydamak, Russian Empire Furniture, Paris 2000, pp. 248-249, illustrating a comparable pair of gilt and patinated bronze ewers at the Peterhof Palace, Russia.
An extremely fine pair of Louis XVI gilt bronze mounted blue enamel ewers, each of elongated baluster form and with a star-studded blue enamel body mounted around neck by vine leaves and around the collar and base with palmettes and then centred by a gilt bronze frieze cast with winged figures issuing from scrolls feeding grapes to a mythological animal with the hind part of a lion and fore part of a hound, with scrolled handles supported on ram's head masks and headed by the fore part of Pegasus the mythological winged horse who rears above the rim, on a spreading circular foot with laurel leaf banding on a square white marble base
Paris, date circa 1785
Overall height: 42 cm. The white marble base: 9 cm. each.
These magnificent ewers, combining superb gilt bronze mounts with rare gilt star studded blue enamel bodies, belong to the early years of Neo-classicism. In many respects compare with those by the celebrated bronzier Claude Galle (1759-1815) dating from the late eighteenth century but especially during the early years of the following century. Dated circa 1785 they can be compared to a pair made entirely of bronze now housed in the Bedroom at Peterhof Palace in Russia. More especially they compare with another pair of gilt and patinated bronze now in the Museum of Fine Art Boston which with their baluster-shaped bodies has a handle with the upper part formed as a ram which like Pegasus appears to look into the top of the ewer. Again as here and those at Peterhof they have a gilt bronze frieze around the centre of the ewers though the reliefs show putti in the style of Clodion; however as here they rest on a similar palmetted cup and similarly shaped foot. The attribution of the Boston Museum pieces has been modified on several occasions. During the early 1960s they were attributed to the Feuchères or Etienne Forestier but in the 1980s they were reattributed to Pierre Gouthière and considered to be after designs by Simon Boizot (1743-1809).
Since these ewers were intended to hold wine a number of the decorative motifs allude to the grape harvest as well as Bacchus God of wine, notably the fanciful winged figures that feed grapes to the mythological animals as well as the fruiting vine leaf band around the ewers' collars. Ram's heads, which became popular as a decorative motif during the second half of the eighteenth century as part of the Neo-classical revival, also allude to rams and other horned beasts that appeared in Bacchic ceremonies. Although Pegasus was not necessarily associated with wine, the mythological winged horse was, like ram's head masks, used in ancient decorations and thus an inspiration during the Neo-classical revival. For instance the forepart of Pegasus's body (protome) was used as an ornamental motif by the ancient Cretan bronze workers and even as here as handles for bronze vessels such as a dish from Dodona, (circa 540 B.C).