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Scent bottle

Scent bottle

  • Place of origin:

    Orléans (made)

  • Date:

    1670-1710 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Perrot, Bernard (glass-maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    mould-blown glass, pewter mounts

  • Credit Line:

    Given by John Jacoby-Iklé, Esq.

  • Museum number:

    C.34-1913

  • Gallery location:

    Europe 1600-1815, Room 5, The Friends of the V&A Gallery, case CA2

This small pear-shaped scent bottle in amber glass would have been carried in its owner's pocket and would probably have contained perfume, holy oil or possibly snuff. It was made in the late 1600s in Orléans, an important town on the River Loire in France. The glassmaker blew a bubble of glass into a two-part mould (the seams of the mould are visible along the side edge) which had a design of hearts on one side and lilies 'fleur de lys' on the other. These were probably of heraldic significance as the fleur de lys is the symbol of the Bourbons (the house of the kings of France), while flaming hearts denote the house of Orléans, referring to the town or the house of the duke of Orléans (younger brother of King Louis XIV) who owned it.
The sole glassmaking business in Orléans in the final decades of the 17th century belonged to Bernard Perrot and it is probable that this scent bottle was made in his glasshouse. Originally Bernardo Perroto, as his name suggests Perrot was one of the many Italian glassmakers working in France at this time. He came from Altare, in northern Italy, where glassmaking had been an important industry since medieval times. Unlike the Venetians, the town of Altare actively encouraged their skilled glassmakers to seek their fortunes abroad. Glassmen from Altare first established themselves in Lyons and an off-shoot of this group went to Nevers in the late 16th century. A group from there went in turn to Orléans in the second half of the 17th century. Perrotto arrived in Nevers in 1647 and followed in the footsteps of his predecessors to Orléans, establishing his own glasshouse their in 1668. He sought to safeguard his business from competition in the region by petitioning the duc d'Orléans for protection. In 1671 he was granted a privilège or monopoly to make glass in Orléans and to be the only glassmaker operating along the banks of the Loire. In the same year his noble status as a gentleman glassmaker 'gentilhomme verrier' was ratified by the duke. He gained additional rights by patenting his inventions: for example in 1668 the secret of translucent red glass production and enamelling in different colours on glass, and in 1682 production of glass imitating porcelain and agate. Later in 1687 he patented a method of making large flat pieces of glass by pouring molten glass onto a table. This technique was used for making large mirrors and large decorative medallions of the king and the duc d’Orléans. Perrot had a shop in Orléans from 1671 and in 1692, an additional one on the quai de l’Horloge in Paris. He made many different types of glass objects besides perfume bottles, for example: bottles for alcohol, medicine and oil, carafes, glasses, beakers, jugs, wall-lights, chandeliers, powder containers, salts, fruit dishes, and glass apparatus for barometers and experiments. He died in 1709 without any children but members of his extended family continued glassmaking in the environs of Orléans until the 1750s.

Information summarised from Bernard Perrot 1640-1709, Secrets et chefs-d'oeuvre des verreries royales d'Orléans. Exhibition catalogue, Musée des Beaux-Arts d'Orléans, 2010

Physical description

Scent bottle of clear, amber-coloured glass, mould-blown, with pewter mount and stopper. Flattened pear-shaped body with relief-moulded decoration: on one side three fleur-de-lys below a royal crown flanked by two palm-branches; on the other a group of three rosettes and three flaming hearts, from the uppermost of which springs a tulip, similarly flanked with palm-branches.

Place of Origin

Orléans (made)

Date

1670-1710 (made)

Artist/maker

Perrot, Bernard (glass-maker)

Materials and Techniques

mould-blown glass, pewter mounts

Dimensions

Height: 94 mm, Width: 52 mm, Depth: 26 mm

Descriptive line

Scent bottle, France (Orléans), probably made by Bernard Perrot or his workshop, 1670-1710

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Bernard Perrot 1640-1709: Secrets et chefs-d'oeuvre des verreries royales d'Orléans, Paris, Orléans, 2010, pp. 100-101, 114-118, nrs 16-26, for similar scent bottles, especially p. 115, nr 18 and p. 117, nr 21 of same colour and pattern as ours.

Labels and date

These coloured flasks with have crudely moulded decoration of fleur-de-lys and other emblems are attributed to Bernard Perrot of Orleans, who was granted a patent for making glass moulded in low relief in 1688. []

Materials

Glass; Pewter

Techniques

Mould-blown

Subjects depicted

Fleur-de-lys

Categories

Glass; Containers

Collection

Ceramics Collection

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