(Vase Bachelier)

Made at Sèvres Manufactory (France), Painted by Antoine Caton (French, active 1749–1797), Painted by Charles Buteux, l'aîné (French, active 1756–1782), Gilder Etienne-Henri Le Guay aîné, père (French, 1719-1799, active at Sèvres 1742–43, 1748–49, 1751–96)


Overall: 71.1 cm (28 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Soft-paste porcelain with dark blue (bleu nouveau) ground, with reserves decorated in polychrome enamels, gilding.

On View

Ann and William Elfers Gallery (Gallery 245)





Reserves on one side painted with scenes from the life of Belisarius (by Caton) and on the reverse, a military trophy (by Buteux).

This vase and its pair, exhibited nearby, once stood on the red marble mantelpiece in Louis XVI’s council room at Versailles, the principal meeting room for the king and his ministers and the center of royal government. The model is named after Jean-Jacques Bachelier, artistic director at the Sèvres Manufactory from 1751 until 1793. Measuring twenty-eight inches high, the vases were among the largest and most impressive works produced at Sèvres in the eighteenth century.


1788/9, most probably the pair of vases recorded in the Cabinet de Conseil of Louis XVI at the Château of Versailles, France [see note 1]. December 22, 1791, transferred to the Tuilleries Palace, Paris. 1794-1796, acquired as a pair in Paris by James Swan, Boston, MA [see note 2]; after 1796, with his wife Hepzibah Clark Swan (d. 1825), Dorchester, MA; 1825, after her death, one of the vases, by inheritance to their daughter, Mrs. John C. Howard [see note 3]; by inheritance to her granddaughter, Miss Elizabeth Howard Bartol; 1927, bequeathed by Miss Elizabeth Howard Bartol. (Accession date: September 8, 1927)

[1] This pair of vases is most probably the pair listed in a porcelain inventory of the Château of Versailles, 1788/9, now at Archives Nationales, Paris, see M. Brunet and T. Préaud, "Sèvres, des origines à nos jours" [2] James Swan was a merchant established in Paris, and was appointed an official agent for the purchase of supplies in the United States in 1794 by the French Government. His partner was Johann-Caspar Schweizer, a Swiss. According to Howard Rice, the French Government placed at his disposal luxury goods to be exchanged in America for food supplies and war materials. The Swan and Schweizer agency shipped these articles to the United States between 1794-1795, where much of it was sold. However, this piece was among those that Swan kept for his personal use. See H. Rice "James Swan, Agent of the French Republic 1794-1796" The New England Quarterly, Vol. X, No. 3, Sept. 1937, p. 464-486. [3] See MFA object, Acc. No. 38.65.

Credit Line

Swan Collection—Bequest of Miss Elizabeth Howard Bartol