I'm sure psychologists and political scientists could elaborate in length about the King's motives to produce this huge statement; boasting about the natural resources and skillful subjects of his newly acquired kingdom surely were two, and self-aggrandizement certainly still another of them. Despite countless fountains and sculptures of all forms and sizes in Swedish parks and gardens, the Porphyry vase still holds an unique position amongst them. In way, it is completely out of scale and it has no function whatsoever. It just stands in the middle of a circular island of lawn, its base adorned with flowerbeds of dubious beauty. In my eyes it would have made much more sense as a fountain with water running down its scalloped rim; all it had needed was a large basin below.
All the same, I find the Porphyry vase handsome and almost deliberating in its massive, classicistic grandeur so far away from all moderation and self-restraint that usually are the preferred virtues of the Swedish society. I mean, there is so much beautiful art, architecture and gardens in that country, from harmonious 18th century interiors to airy modernist creations and contemporary sleek Scandinavian design. But as much I love it all, sometimes all that "good taste" (I'm well aware of the relativity of the concept) makes me crave for a bit of craziness. And that is where I think the Porphyry vase comes into the picture; with its gigantic size, it provides a vital touch of the slightly absurd and out-of-scale in the middle of the well-tempered beauty of Djurgården.
A strange thing. I think I'd like it better without the flowerbed.
James, I agree. And I know that you do have a refined sense for sculpture. That riot petty flowers in contrasting colors doesn't do anything but distract from calm of this enormous piece of stone. Maybe it should have been allowed to stand still, as a document of its own strange history.
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