The J. Paul Getty Museum

Pair of Lidded Bowls (vases cassolettes à monter)

Object Details


Pair of Lidded Bowls (vases cassolettes à monter)


Mounts attributed to Pierre-Philippe Thomire (French, 1751 - 1843, master 1772)

Sèvres Manufactory (French, founded 1756)




Sèvres, France; Paris, France (Place Created)


about 1785


Hard-paste porcelain with a bleu nouveau ground color and gilt bronze mounts; rouge griotte marble

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Object Description

These lidded bowls were intended to hold potpourri, the smell of which passed through the pierced collar. Containers for potpourri first appeared in the 1700s in France and were soon produced in large numbers from gold, silver, porcelain, or lacquer. To create potpourri, fashionable women experimented with dried petals and spices to achieve the finest fragrances, some of which were left to mature for up to nine years. Perfumes and potpourri were used liberally to disguise malodorous air, as indoor plumbing was nonexistent and frequent bathing was considered unhealthy.

By means of a drawing in the archives of the Sèvres porcelain manufactory of a similar, but unmounted bowl, scholars have identified the craftsman who made the twisted and coiled gilt bronze mounts on this piece. The drawing, dated 1784, has an inscription noting that it was to be mounted by "Tomier," Pierre-Philippe Thomire, one of the most celebrated bronze casters of the late 1700s. Thomire is known to have provided bronze mounts for many similar bowls.