A Fine Pair of French Empire Bronze Perfume Burners c.1810

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Origin: French
Period: Empire
Provenance: The Collection of Lady Lanesborough; Swithland Hall, Leicestershire, UK
Date: c.1810-20
Base Diameter: 2.5 inches
Height: 4.25 inches (each)

The pair of Empire perfume burners fashioned in the classical style in bronze having pierced domed covers with foliate gilt metal covers of flowing fruits and vines surviving from Empire period France

The condition of the burners is very good. The gilding is retained largely and there are bad abrasions. One of the burners has a small dint to its rim. The burners resonate like bells upon striking them softly.

Perfumes and their use dates back to the dawn of time, developing alongside civilisations.It seems that it was in the Middle East, around 7000 BC when the first objects considered as perfume and cosmetics vases appeared. These civilisations employed various odorants, mainly resins widely used as early as 4000 BC in ritual fumigations in censers or incense burners, reserved for the gods and reserved for royal families.

This particular pair are a little more subtle in design than other more ornate examples of this period and were made to be placed on a table but there were those that could be attached to a person's clothes. These perfume burners are made of two distinct parts: the bottom section would house incense or other materials to be burned; and the top half would act as a receptacle for the smoke, which then diffused around the room. Perfume burners have been important objects from at least the Renaissance period as people believed that disease was spread through foul air. Sometimes French examples such as these are termed ‘Brûle-parfum’ which translates literally as "burnt fragrance," and is the French term for an incense burner, or censer. Burning incense in such pretty vessels as these enjoyed a vogue among European fashionables during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, particularly in` England, France and Russia.

Diminutive, beautifully understated Empire infused decadence. Brûle-parfum indeed.

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