The two vases in Sevres porcelain form a set: this is the imperial couple, formed by Napoleon III and his wife the Empress Eugenia of Montijo. Their decision to spend the summer in what was until then a fishing village, Biarritz, changed the history of the Basque coast from 1854 on. Their stays in Biarritz attracted the entire court, as well as a great number of aristocrats from all over Europe and elsewhere. Following Napoleon III’s abdication, Biarritz continued to attract many tourists. Its popularity fed (and was fed by) tourism in San Sebastian, which became the summer court of the Spanish monarchy. The two families visited each other and the French Emperor and Empress came to Donostia / San Sebastian on several occasions.
Although these pieces are magnificently crafted, they also have great symbolic importance: the golden handles represent the imperial eagle, and the portraits depict the royal couple, bearing all their imperial attributes.
The vases were a gift from the couple to the City Council of Donostia / San Sebastian to commemorate the welcome they received in 1859.
Inventory numbers: STM-026648-001 - STM-026649-001