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Empire Elegance: The Medici and Borghese Vases

A Marvel of Artistry and Material

In my collection, a pair of Empire bronze and orbicular diorite mounted Medici and Borghese vases stand as a testament to the grandeur of early 19th-century craftsmanship. These Grand Tour versions, inspired by the original ancient Roman vases, encapsulate the essence of classical artistry. The Medici and Borghese vases, with their rich history and artistic significance, have been long admired for their exquisite reliefs depicting scenes from ancient mythology. The choice of orbicular diorite for the bases, a material known for its unique orbicules, adds a layer of natural marvel to these pieces. This speckled green and black granite, combined with the gilt-bronze foliate decoration, embodies the opulence of the Empire style, making these vases a captivating pair in any collection.

The Unique Appeal of Orbicular Diorite

Orbicular diorite, or Napoleonite as it is sometimes known, has a fascinating history that enhances the allure of these vases. Discovered on the island of Corsica in 1785, its appearance was so unusual that it was once believed to have celestial origins. This material’s association with Napoleon Bonaparte, stemming from its prevalence on Corsica, Napoleon’s birthplace, and its use in the Chateau Malmaison, imbues these vases with a historical resonance that is both intriguing and majestic. The orbicular pattern, with its concentric circles, not only serves as a visual delight but also as a geological curiosity, making these vases not just objects of beauty but of scientific interest as well.

A Connection to the Grandeur of the Past

The replication of the Medici and Borghese vases in such luxurious materials speaks to the 19th century’s fascination with the grandeur of antiquity. These vases were created during a time when the Grand Tour was an essential rite of passage for the European elite, with classical art and architecture being central to cultural education. By incorporating elements of classical design with the unique properties of orbicular diorite, these vases bridge the gap between past and present, offering a tangible link to the rich tapestry of history. They embody the spirit of the Empire style, characterized by its revival of classical motifs and an emphasis on symmetry, proportion, and the use of luxurious materials.

Nicholas Wells Antiques advisors are available to answer all your questions. 

Please email us or call +44 (0)207 6920 897

Pair of Bronze and Napoleonite Medici / Borghese Vases

Stock Number: 45753

A pair of Empire bronze and orbicular diorite mounted Medici and Borghese vases from the early 19th century. After the antique, Grand Tour Vases.
  • Height: 40 cm (15.8 inches)
  • Width: 13.5 cm (5.2 inches)
  • Depth: 13.5 cm (5.2 inches)

£30,000

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Dimensions

Approximate Dimensions

  • Height: 40 cm (15.8 inches)
  • Width: 13.5 cm (5.2 inches)
  • Depth: 13.5 cm (5.2 inches)

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