The 2ft 1in (63.5cm) high pair on polished slate bases combine the talents of two giants of late 19th century French decorative arts: the Parisian foundry of Ferdinand Barbedienne (1810-92) and the pioneering furniture designer Édouard Lièvre (1828-86).
Typical of Lièvre’s love of the fantastical and Japanese-style decoration in particular, vases of this kind adorned Barbedienne’s prize-winning stand at the 1878 show.
A single vase was engraved and illustrated on page 153 of the Art Journal exhibition catalogue, The Illustrated Catalogue of the Paris International Exhibition, 1878.
As the headline lot at Akiba Galleries, they have broad expectations of $20,000-80,000.
Lièvre, who had begun life as an illustrator, first collaborated with Barbedienne at the Exposition Universelle.
After becoming disillusioned that his designs were often failing to be manufactured in sufficient quantities, he instead worked on a bespoke commission for Albert Vieillard (d.1895), the director of Bordeaux’s ceramics factory.
The neo-Japanese furniture he created includes the celebrated Cabinet Japonais now in the Musée d’Orsay.