Pair of Medici vases

Pair of Medici vases
Paris, circa 1770-1780
Porphyry, gilt bronze
Inv. PR 2009.2.7.1-2
© Photo MAD, Paris / Jean Tholance

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Red porphyry is the stone most emblematic of late Antiquity. The most widely used porphyry came from the quarries at Mons Porphyri, in the Egyptian desert between the Nile and the Red Sea. The geometric forms of these vases evoke the huge vats and basins brought from Egypt and the Near East to decorate the palaces and squares of ancient Rome. The revival in interest in Antiquity encouraged the production of objects inspired by hardstone vases. The wealthiest collectors embellished them with gilt bronze mounts emphasising their forms.