Early 19th Century pair of Paris porcelain vases, circa 1825. Inscribed f on base. Each painted around the ovoid body with an image of Lady Emma Hamilton as Terpsichore, the muse of dance. On the reverse a finely painted lyre a string instrument known for its use in Greek classical antiquity, the trumpet-shaped neck, shoulder and upper and lower body decorated with neoclassical patarae or palmettes on the green ground between gilt borders, affixed on either side with a gilt winged herm handle.
Lady Emma Hamilton
Classical scenes of dancing muses became hugely popular after the set of twelve engravings by Piroli after the German artist Rehberg, published in 1794. All are of the ‘attitudes’ for which Emma Hamilton was celebrated throughout Europe. In her performances of these, which she first began about 1786, Emma adopted poses taken from classical sculpture or Renaissance painting: at one point Sir William Hamilton even constructed a special box with a black border for her to pose in, to imitate more closely the appearance of a framed painting. She was certainly encouraged by her husband’s love of the antique, and performed the ‘attitudes’ not just in Naples, where Rehberg made his drawings for these plates, but throughout the courts of Europe. Numerous contemporary descriptions praise both her skill at adopting poses that would have been easily recognizable to connoisseurs steeped in a classical education and her own naturally ‘classical’ beauty.
Paris, Vieux Paris, or Old Paris, is porcelain ware that is known to have been made in Paris in the eighteenth or early nineteenth century. These porcelains have no identifying mark but can be recognized by the whiteness of the porcelain and the lines and decorations. Gold decoration is often used. Old Paris porcelain often has a revival rococo style and are popular in antebellum mansions of the American South.