This pair of covered vases is an expression of the 18th century taste of Parisian marchands merciers (dealers of luxury objects) for bronze mounted objects. In effect, these dealers bought at auction or had delivered by the East India Company precious porcelains, and then had them mounted by the best bronze workers of the capital. Most often the porcelain pieces were modified by cutting, grinding down, or truncating in order to have them fully adapted to their gilt bronze mounts which often resulted in a completely new form of object. This is the case for the present vases. Thus, the vase lids here must have been drip pans originally for traditional candlesticks of the Kangxi period (see, Brinker, H. and Lutz, A., Chinesiches Cloisonné, Zürich, 1985, fig.187 for a candle stick of this type and of the same period as the present vases but with cloisonné inset enamel). The bottoms have been ground down and the support for the candlestick fixtures filled in (visible still under the copper mounts supporting the lids). Finally, these vases were drilled at their center to allow the attachment of the handles. They were adapted by a marchand mercier and placed onto two small jars of the same period.
It seems that this object could have had a double use in the 18th century. They could have in effect, been displayed solely with lids for there aesthetic value or either used without lids as cache-pots. This latter utilization was a greatly appreciated motif at the beginning of the 18th century as is made evident by the large number of mounted vases of this period that were not intended to be used with lids (Kjellberg, P.,Objets montés, Paris, 2000, pp.34-39).
It’s also possible that this type of object, extremely precious and fragile, could have served on occasion for prestigious dinners as coolers for bottles as could be understood by the descriptive entry for number 95 in the 1769 sale of Gaignat, secretary to the king. For covered vases with lids of similar nature to those present (as can be seen notably from a sketch by Gabriel de Saint-Aubin in the catalogue margin) one can read « two cut urns in the form of a bottle cooler with a cover ».
One can note for the gilt bronze mounts the utilization of gadroons, handles in the form of a pomegrenate, feminine masks, rings intended as handles, and held in place by a shell, which are all characteristic motifs of the Louis XIV style. The ensemble which is of cut out design resemble those ornaments by Berain which were all the rage in 1710-1720 period.