The 'Lante' Vase by the Val d'Osne Foundry after Piranesi

by Val d'Osne Foundry
France, mid 19th Century

Cast iron, based on the fragments of a monumental vase found in Hadrian's Villa at Tivoli.

The Lante Vase is said to have been found in fragments in Hadrian's Villa at Tivoli, and is known to have been in the Villa Lante as early as 1639. It was acquired by Giovanni Volpato and sold by him to Colonel John Campbell ( later 1st Lord Cawdor ) in 1788. Obtaining an export licence proved to be difficult and Thomas Jenkins played an important role in securing it. It was at the sale of Lord Cawdor's collection in 1800 that the Duke of Bedford purchased the vase for £ 735.79. A retailer of fine cast iron ornaments, J. J. Ducel was recorded as supplying cast iron works through Paris as early as 1810 in the Pas-de-Calais. The factory was sold in 1878 to the Fonderie de la Haute-Marne and all of the firm's models were subsequently bought by the Val d'Osne foundry. However, prior to the firm's sale, critics at the 1867 Paris Exposition Universelle proclaimed that "Ducel is the great manufacturer of works in cast iron, to whom Paris is so largely indebted for the grace and elegance that supply so many of the adornments of its streets".

Ducel, Val d'Osne and other associated foundries produced both bronze and cast-iron statuary. Cast-iron is corrosive, whereas non-ferrous bronze does not suffer the same detrimental effects of weathering and is therefore a superior and more expensive material.
The foundry of Val d'Osne became highly regarded for the varied nature and quality of its castings in the second half of the 19th century. Commonly known after 1870 as simply Val d'Osne, developed rapidly, absorbing smaller foundries in the Haute-Marne area east of Paris. The foundry contributed to the London International Exhibition of 1851, where a bronze fountain cast with classical figures attracted much attention. André also specialised in fancy castings and architectural fittings. His Paris address was at 14 Rue Neuve, Menilmontant.
In 1855 the Barbezat & Cie Foundry was born out of the André workshop. In 1867 Barbezat & Cie changed its name to Houille & Cie. Then, in 1870, it changed its name to Société Anonyme du Val d'Osne. With the change of name came the change of casting mark and address: Fonderies d'Art du Val d'Osne, 58 Bd Voltaire, Paris or sim- ply Val d'Osne.

Cast-iron had been in production during the 18th century but its inferior status to the more fashionable and delicate wrought- iron had generally confined its use to architectural work. By the early 19th century, however, rapid developments of the Industrial Revolution combined with the simultaneous burgeoning of a new middle class provided the impetus for a dramatic expansion in its application and in a short space of time a proliferation of iron foundries across Europe and America thrived on the production of everything from inkstands to railway stations.

The use of cast-iron for garden ornament became particularly widespread at this time, as the possibilities for its mass-production at a fraction of the cost of bronze made it the material of choice for indoor/outdoor statuary, figural lighting, fountains and vases.
Nowhere was the popularity and use of cast-iron ornament greater than in France, where by the second half of the 19th century two foundries in particular had come to dominate production both for the home market and for export. The more important of the- se was the officially named Société Anonyme des Hauts-Fourneaux et Fonderies du Val-D'Osne, Anciennes maisons J.P.V. André et J.J. Ducel et Fils. Smaller than Val-D'Osne but nevertheless a major player in the manufacture of cast-iron was the firm of A. A. Durenne, estab- lished in 1847 at Sommevoire. Both Val D'Osne and Durenne were frequently awarded medals for their work at the many interna- tional exhibitions of the latter half of the 19th century. Each also published large catalogues illustrating and listing its entire inven- tory of models, from which casts of varying size and finish could be ordered.
H 70cm x Dia. 110cm
H 27¾" x Dia. 43½"


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