Vase thumbnail 1
Vase thumbnail 2
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Ceramics, Room 139, The Curtain Foundation Gallery


ca. 1752-1756 (made)
Place of origin

Vase of hard-paste porcelain. Polychrome modelled after Giovanni Casini with Cephalus and Aurora. The front relief is of the Allegory of the Night. The back relief depicts a goddess.

Object details

Object type
Materials and techniques
Hard-paste porcelain
Brief description
Vase of hard-paste porcelain, Doccia porcelain factory, Doccia, ca. 1752-1756.
Physical description
Vase of hard-paste porcelain. Polychrome modelled after Giovanni Casini with Cephalus and Aurora. The front relief is of the Allegory of the Night. The back relief depicts a goddess.
  • Height: 39cm
  • Width: 35.6cm
Gallery label
VASE Porcelain Cephalus and Aurora, probably based on original models by Massimiliano Soldani-Benzi or Giovan Foggini ITALY (DOCCIA); about 1750-5 30-1880 (Label draft attributed to John V. G. Mallet, ca. 1995)(ca. 1995)
Object history
Subjects are modelled after 'Night' and 'Dawn' by Giovanni Casini. Formerly thought probably to be based on original models by Massimiliano Soldani-Benzi or Giovan Foggini.
Subjects depicted
Bibliographic references
  • Kräftner, J. Baroque Luxury Porcelain: The Manufacturers of Du Paquier in Vienna and of Carlo Ginori in Florence , Liechtenstein Museum, 2005, p.424
  • Amici di Doccia, Quaderni, Edizioni Polistampa, No. 11, 2008.
  • Blanchet et Associés, sale at Drouot, Paris, 16th April, 2014. See lot 106 for a pair of terracotta ewers of similar design to this vase, catalogued as German, c. 1800, but considered post-sale to be by the Italian sculptor Massimiliano Soldani-Benzi (1656-1740).
  • Frescobaldi Malenchini, Livia ed. With Balleri, Rita and Rucellai, Oliva, ‘Amici di Doccia Quaderni, Numero VII, 2013, The Victoria and Albert Museum Collection’, Edizioni Polistampa, Firenze, 2014 pp.31- 32, Cat. 7 7. Vase with narrative scenes in bas-relief 1752-1756 hard-paste porcelain painted in colours h 39 cm (without the base) no mark inv. 30-1880 purchase: Fosters Sale, £ 86.6.0 The polychrome vase in the Victoria & Albert Museum and the white porcelain vase in the Detroit Institute of Arts (A.P. Darr, in DARR, BARNETT, BOSTRÖM 2002, p. 75, cat. 174; J.Winter, in BAROQUE LUXURY PORCELAIN 2005, p. 422-423, cat. 273) are faithful reproductions of the shape of two terracotta vases, probably by Massimiliano Soldani Benzi, sold in 1752 by Marquis Clemente di Niccolò Vitelli to Carlo Ginori. These vases have just one side decorated with bas-relief scenes representing Leandro drowned and Hercules and Iole (BALLERI 2007, p. 62-73). On the porcelain vases, however, the decoration in relief occupies the surface on both sides and reproduces bas-relief sculptures created by Giovanni Casini, a pupil of Giovan Battista Foggini (GABBURRI about 1730-1741, vol. III, p. 153r). The compositions of Casini present on the vase in the Victoria & Albert Museum can be identified among the models at the factory in the Inventory of Models (about 1791-1806) in the following entries: “N. 115 a small bas-relief with two fine figures representing the Night with owls under their feet, in wax. By Casini, with moulds”; “N. 135 A bas-relief representing the Dawn. By Casini, in wax, with moulds” (LANKHEIT 1982, p. 139, 40:115 and p. 141, 42:135).The dimensions of these two sculptures, one of which, the Allegory of the Night, is in the Museo di Doccia (inv. 218), made it necessary to adapt the composition to the surface of the vase: on the front side the landscape has been removed from the bas-relief of Night while Dawn, on the back side, has been reduced to a single allegorical figure accompanied by a Nereide playing a horn. Moreover, both figures have been straightened and brought closer together. Since, at the Museo di Doccia, we do not have any trace of the original composition of Dawn in the form of a wax mould, the comparison with the decoration on this vase was made using the versions in Ginori porcelain which are probably quite faithful imitations of Casini’s composition. One of them is in the Museo Duca di Martina in Naples (inv. 1801, CARÒLA-PERROTTI 1972, p. 220, 223, fig. 2; P.Giusti, in IL MUSEO DUCA DI MARTINA DI NAPOLI 1994, p. 94) and the other is in the Museo Giuseppe Gianetti in Saronno (inv. 323, L. Brambilla Bruni, in BRAMBILLA BRUNI, MELEGATI, ZENONE PADULA 2000, p. 48-49, cat. 4); they are datable to the last thirty years of the 18th century. A third vase is in the Museo di Doccia (inv. 5505) but it was probably made in the second half of the 19th century. Considering the kind of porcelain clay used to make this vase and the type of decoration and colours, I believe that it was made between 1752 and 1756, during the last years in which the factory was under the direction of Marquis Carlo Ginori. R.B. Bibliography: MORAZZONI 1935, plate LXXII (as Capodimonte); LANE 1954, plate 57; A.P.Darr, in DARR, BARNETT, BOSTRÖM 2002, p. 75, cat. 174; J. Winter, in BAROQUE LUXURY PORCELAIN 2005, p. 424, cat. 274; BALLERI 2007, p. 65 and fig. 31; WINTER 2008, p. 20-21, fig. 7-8
Accession number

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Record createdMarch 9, 2006
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