Pair of large Gille Jeune Paris porcelain vases, with scenes from Paul et Virginie after Heinrich-Frédéric Schopin
French, c. 1843
Height 85cm, width 48cm, depth 29cm
The central painted panels to the front of each vase are after Heinrich-Frédéric Schopin (German/French, 1804-1880), which depict scenes from the 1788 novel, Paul and Virginia, by French author Bernardin de Saint Pierre. The reverse panels depict bouquets of flowers and they are displayed on richly gilt ground with fine chasing and purple patterns embedded. Each has twin scrolled handles and is set on a square base. One of the vases is signed for the important Parisian Gille Jeune porcelain factory.
Each panel with Paul and Virginia depicts a part of their tragic love story- firstly where they hear the news that Virginia must leave the Mauritius to go to France, leaving them in a state of desperation; and secondly where they are saying goodbye to eachother with heavy hearts, before Virginia must leave.
Schopin painted the goodbye scene (or Les Adieux in French) in 1842- most likely both were exhibited in the 1843 Salon in Paris, and subsequently commissioned by a wealthy patron to be painted on porcelain by Gille Jeune. With this in mind, these vases can be relatively accurately dated to c. 1843 or shortly after.
The book- Paul and Virginia- has been widely read and praised for its anthropological portrayal of 18th Century Mauritius under colonial French rule. It plays out a doomed love story of the two childhood sweethearts, who were both raised together by their single mothers.