This vase is a scaled down model of a monumental marble bell shaped krater vase dating from about the 1st century BC. It is named after it's last private owners, the Borghese family in Rome. It was re-discovered in a Roman garden in 1566 and acquired by the Borghese family who retained it until the early 19th century. In 1808 Napoleon bought it from the Borghese family and had it displayed in the Louvre in Paris shortly after where it still remains today.
The frieze depicts a procession of what appear to be musicians and dancers. One figure looking rather worse for wear spilling a flagon of wine and being held upright by another is that of Dionysius the Greek god of wine.
Three to scale copies of the vase were produced in the 18th century for the gardens of Versailles, France. Piranesi copied the frieze of the vase and published it in 1778. In England an alabaster pair can be found at Houghton Hall, Norfolk. Avitually identical bronze model is at Osterley Park, Middlesex which is probably from the same workshop. One belonging to the Earl of Radnor of Longford Castle is illustrated in A History of English Furniture by Macquoid.
Rundell, Bridge & Rundell frequently used Piranesi's publication for inspiration of their objects. These include amongst others the Medici Vase, often as the companion to the Borghese Vase, and the Buckingham Vase.

Literature: Giovanni Battista Piranesi, Varie Vedute di Roma Antica e Moderna, Rome 1745.
Giovanni Battista Piranesi, Avansi degli Edifici di Pesto, Rome 1777-78.
Percy Macquoid, A History of English Furniture, The Age of Mahogany, London 1906, p. 75, Fig. 68.
Christopher Hartop, Royal Goldsmiths: The Art of Rundell & Bridge 1797-1843, Cambridge 2005.


Make an enquiry
  • Name: * Phone: E-mail: *
  • Comment:
  • +44 (0)20 7493 2341