Width: 4 ¼” 11cm
Each has a dished drip-pan above a fluted nozzle and ovoid bodies with rosette and garland swags and leaf-tip decoration on fluted socles. The pedestal bases decorated to each side with medallions of Ceres on stepped bases with ball feet.
Matthew Boulton’s candle vases of this pattern, one of the earliest of the vases to be made at Soho, were commonly referred to as ‘Cleopatra’ vases. The design for these vases conforms in almost every detail to a drawing in Boulton’s Pattern Book I, p. 171. which survives among the papers of Matthew Boulton at the Birmingham City Library. The vase pattern was invented for altar pedestals bearing `Cleopatra` medallions after the manner of a James Tassie gem.
Boulton first used the term in correspondence in 1770, when he thought the Dowager Princess of Wales might be persuaded to buy a pair. Later that year the Marquess of Rockingham bought a pair, though there is no indication of precisely what form these vases took.
In 1771 at Boulton’s sale at Christie’s, there were several pairs of vases that correspond to the description of the present pair and Boulton specifically referred to ‘Cleopatra vases’ in a subsequent letter to William Matthews detailing the unsold stock.
Despite being referred to as ‘Cleopatra’ vases only one pair with medallions of Cleopatra is known; others depict Ceres, as is the case with this pair. The vase pattern is discussed in detail in N. Goodison, Matthew Boulton: Ormolu, London, 2002, pp. 328 – 330, and three variations on the pattern are illustrated, figs. 327, 328 and 329.
Nicholas Goodison, Matthew Boulton: Ormolu, London, 2002, pp. 328 – 330
S. Mason, Matthew Boulton Selling what all the World Desires, New Haven and London, 2009, p. 162, fig. 161.