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Louis XV Ormolu-Mounted Covered Fountain with Two Swans
Fountains of this type were popularly used as tableware in eighteenth-century France. They were often assembled and sold by Parisian marchands-merciers, or art-and-design merchants, who sold furniture and decorative objects such as chandeliers, andirons, and lacquer boxes. Marchands-merciers often converted ceramics to new uses by mounting bowls, tureens or vases on ornate gilded metal bases; a large vase such as this one could be drilled and equipped with a spigot to allow the flow of liquids. Since the original vase is too small to accommodate a fountain for volume liquids such as beverages, this fountain probably dispensed scented water.
from Weisberg, A Taste for Porcelain: The Virginia A. Marten Collection of Decorative Arts (Notre Dame, 2014)