A pair of French Empire pot-pourri vases on a marble foot. The base is formed by a low square plinth topped with a high square pedestal, which features edging of stylized palmettes in gilt bronze. The front and rear of the column is decorated with a stylized lyre in gilt bronze. The sides are decorated with gilt bronze rosettes.
A stylized capital in gilt bronze stands on the columns, on which the bronze urn-shaped vases stand. The base of the vases is bell-shaped and is decorated with gilt bronze leaf motifs. The lower parts of the potpourri vases are of a bowl-shape and each side is decorated with a gilt lion head with a ring in their mouth. A gold-plated bronze ring rests on the bowl, topped by the smooth, flared-shaped body of the vase. The top edge is gilded and fluted. The openwork (ajour) lids have a gilt, bronze stylized flower bud.
A potpourri was usually filled with dried or moistened flower petals and/ or herbs that were saturated with scented oil. Because the ingredients can spoil and become unsightly, the potpourri (‘spoiled pot’) usually has a lid. The holes in the lid enable the pleasant scent of the flower or herb mixture to infuse an entire room. Incense vases like these were richly decorated to act as an eye-catcher on the mantelpiece. The warmth of the fireplace helps to spread the scents throughout the room.
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