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Paramètres de recherche
  • Céramique

    13 536 En vente

    471 490 Vendu

  • 0—30 900 000 EUR
  • 2 oct. 1989— 5 sept. 2017

A MARBLE STATUE OF APHRODITE, ROMAN IMPERIAL, CIRCA EARLY 1ST CENTURY

After a Greek original of circa 430-420 B.C., the goddess standing in a majestic and graceful attitude, and wearing high-soled sandals, long diaphanous chiton leaving her right shoulder bare, and long cloak falling from her left shoulder in deeply pleated folds, her oval face with parted lips and large wide-set eyes, the wavy hair parted in the center, bound in a broad braided diadem, and flowing in a long tapering tress down the nape of neck; restored in marble: part of proper right earlobe, tip of nose, both forearms with attributes, small parts of drapery, and other minor areas From Classical Greece to Imperial Rome The present statue was carved in the early decades of the Roman Imperial era and stands as one of the most faithful and complete replicas of a now lost figure of Aphrodite, which was executed in Greece in the second half of the 5th century B.C., at the height of the Classical period of Greek art. Only one other replica, found twelve years ago in Pozzuoli near Naples, has come to light with its original head (Valéri and Zevi, op. cit., 2005, cat. no. IV.5, pp. 85-98). It is virtually the twin sister of the present statue. Equally close to the Greek original is a headless statue in the Munich Glyptothek (L.E. Baumer, “Vorbilder und Vorlagen,” in Acta Bernensia, vol. 10, Bern, 1997, no. G 3/2, p. 95, pl. 5,2). Several other figures belonging to the same type (called the “Syon-Munich type” in German art-historical nomenclature), either headless or fitted with alien or modern heads, can be found in public collections (e.g. Copenhagen, Louvre, Formia, and Epidauros). The overwhelming majority of these figures show slight variations and departures from the Greek original, both in their pose and arrangement of the drapery. One example was even carved as a portrait statue of a Julio-Claudian princess in the guise of Aphrodite (A. Giuliano, Catalogo dei ritratti romani del Museo Profano Lateranense, Rome, 1957, pp. 29f., cat. no. 32, pl. 20. 21; http://arachne.uni-koeln.de/item/objekt/21378). Until very recently, the head of the Syon Aphrodite was considered to be a later addition. The discovery of the Pozzuoli example proves beyond doubt that the head of the Syon statue is original to the body. The Cesi Collection The statue is first recorded with certainty in the late 16th Century, as it stood in the garden of the (no longer extant) Palazzo Cesi in Rome, on the northern slope of the Janiculum near the Basilica of Saint Peter. An engraving published by Cavalleriis in 1585 identifies it as “Agrippina, Marci Agrippae filia, ibidem” (“Agrippina, daughter of Marcus Agrippa, in the same place” [i.e., as the statues illustrated previously, “in the Cesi garden”) and demonstrates a clear attempt at rendering the highly specific coiffure of the Syon statue. Aphrodite is depicted without her current restored arms, which are 18th-century additions. The figure engraved in Cavalleriis has been variously identified with a torso now in Copenhagen (Hülsen, op. cit., 1917, p. 123), and with a statue fitted with an alien portrait head of Lucilla in the Capitoline Museum (H.S. Jones, ed., A Catalogue of the Ancient Sculptures Preserved in the Municipal Collections of Rome. The Sculptures of the Museo Capitolino, Oxford, 1912, p. 283). These identifications can no longer be accepted. The Cesi collection was assembled by two brothers, Cardinals Paolo Emilo Cesi (1481-1537) and Federico Cesi (1500-1565). Born into the provincial Umbrian elite, they were eager to compete with the Roman nobility for status and evidence of learning and taste. Their open-air museum became a major center of attraction for art lovers in general and Dutch artists in particular, such as Martin van Heemsckerck, who drew several views of the garden, including many of its antiquities, and Henrick van Cleef III, who painted a detailed panoramic view of the Palazzo Cesi and its garden (see M. van der Meulen, “Cardinal Cesi's Antique Sculpture Garden: Notes on a Painting by Henrick van Cleef III,” Burlington Magazine, vol. 116, January 1974, fig. 27, and J.D. Hunt, Garden and Grove: The Italian Renaissance Garden, London, 1986, fig. 15). Where in Rome the statue was found and when the Cesi acquired remain unknown. Textual evidence appears to point to a date of acquisition no more precise than sometime in the first half of the 16th century. The statue is most probably the same one Ulisse Aldro(v) saw on a visit to the Cesi gardens circa 1550, the description of which he published about six years later: “Entrando in questo giardino si trova à man dritta presso al muro una Agrippina intiera in piè vestita à l’antica e posta sopra una antica base. E bellissima statua, ma non ha braccia. Fu questa Agrippina figliuola di M. Agrippa, e di Iulia figlia d’Augusto perche furono molte Agrippine.” (“As one enters this garden, to the right against the wall there is a complete standing [figure of] Agrippina set on an ancient pedestal. It is a very beautiful statue, but it does not have arms. [One should note that] this Agrippina was the daughter of Marcus Agrippa and Julia, the daughter of Augustus, because there were many Agrippinas” (Aldroandi, op. cit, 1526, p. 124). Also unknown is the location of the statue immediately following the dispersal of the Cesi collection, which started in earnest in 1621/1622, when Ludovico Ludovisi (Pope Gregory XV from 1621 to 1623) acquired about 100 sculptures from the family. In 1720, several of the Cesi antiquities were purchased by Pope Clement XI for the Capitoline Museum. Various other marbles went into the Albani collection. The remainder was dispersed on the Roman art market in the mid to late 18th Century (Hülsen, op. cit., 1917, p. 10, and G.B., Waywell, The Lever and Hope Sculptures, Berlin, 1986, p. 25). James and Robert Adam After almost 200 years, during which the Syon Aphrodite must have either remained in the Cesi Collection or sojourned in one or more of the great antiquities collections of late Renaissance and Baroque Rome, the statue resurfaced in 1773. It can be tentatively identified with a statue offered in the sale of the collection/inventory of British architects and dealers Robert and James Adam. The Christie’s auction of 25-27 February and 1-2 March 1773 was organized to help fund the brothers’ project to build the Adelphi Buildings, a row of terrace houses in neoclassical style in central London. James “was the more committed collector and dealer, buying in Italy most of the sculptures listed in the sale catalogue of 1773” (I. Bignamini and C. Hornsby, Digging and Dealing in Eighteenth-Century Rome, New Haven and London, 2010, p. 225, adding that he purchased antiquities from the collections of Cardinal Passionei, and some that had once been in the Massimi, Furietti, and Barberini collections). The Syon Aphrodite most likely coincides with lot 51 in the fourth-day session of the 1773 sale: “The Empress Livia, in the character of a Juno in flowing robes, of Grecian workmanship remarkably fine, from the Pope's collection in the Vatican, Ft 6 In 8.5"  [204.47 cm]" (A.Th. Bolton, The Architecture of Robert & James Adam (1758-1794), London, 1922, p. 328). The papal provenance given in the catalogue is tantalizing. Some Cesi antiquities did enter the Vatican collections (C. Pietrangeli, “Le antichità Cesi dei Musei Vaticani e S. Lorenzo in piscibus,” in Scritti in memoria di G. Marchetti Longhi, vol. I, Rome, 1990, pp. 23-35), but rarely would Popes de-accession their antiquities– unless, of course, they were forced to do so by the French. The reference is possibly to the Ludovisi Collection, since one of their family members did reign as Pope, if ever so briefly. An overlifesize statue of Livia is mentioned in a 1633 inventory of the Ludovisi collection, twelve years after the acquisition of the Cesi marbles (B. Palma, Museo Nazionale Romano. Le sculture, vol. I,4: I Marmi Ludovisi: Storia della Collezione, Rome, 1983, p. 77, no. 192). it does not appear in later inventories, or at least not under this designation. The Duke of Northumberland probably purchased “Livia” in the sale– most likely, as we will see why, on the advice of the Adam Brothers– together with at least one other statue, lot 51 in the fifth-day session: “The Consul Scipio, with his consular robes, and a volume or roll in his hand, in the action of speaking in the Senate House, of Grecian Workmanship, and exquisitely fine, Ft 7 In 9" [236 cm.]. The Great Hall at Syon House A month or two after Christie’s Adam Brothers sale, in the Spring of 1773, four statues, two male and two female, including Aphrodite (a.k.a. Livia) and Scipio, were set on tall pedestals in the Robert Adam-designed Great Hall at Syon House, the Duke of Northumberland’s house in Middlesex (E. Harris, The Genius of Robert Adam, London, 2001, p. 341, note 10; Archives of Alnwick Castle, Sy.U/I/2/W1-71). Three-quarters of a century later, they were still described by an antiquarian as “Scipio Africanus, Livia, Cicero, and a priestess” (George Aungier, The history and antiquities of Syon Monastery, the parish of Isleworth, London, 1840, page 117.). The same author adds that they were “dug out of Herculaneum and Pompeii,” most likely an assumption on his or the owner’s part, based on the much publicized discoveries around Mount Vesuvius at the time. Construction of the Great Hall along Robert Adam’s plans had started in 1760/61. In 1768 the four pedestals were still not fitted with the four casts of ancient "consular statues," which the Duke had initially envisaged for his neo-classical interior. James Adam, who was acting as the Duke’s dealer and agent in Italy, realized and conveyed to him that they were simply too expensive to manufacture (E. Harris, op. cit., 2001, p. 66 and 341, note 13). The use of the four ancient marbles statues, therefore, was an afterthought within the design of the Great Hall. They were selected for their size (slightly more than 2m each) and in at least two cases, for their subject ("consular statues" wearing togas), which corresponded to the Duke’s initial wishes. Within this group of latecomers, the two female statues were convenient additions, meant to supplement and enhance their male counterparts standing opposite them across the Hall. A Scholarly Oversight In the 19th century, at a time when European scholars were actively assessing Britain’s riches in ancient sculpture, the Comte de Clarac did not include engravings of the four Syon statues in his Musée de Sculpture. Adolf Michaelis, the pioneering re-discoverer of Britain’s antiquarian collecting past and author of Ancient Marbles in Great Britain, published in English in 1889, also never saw or even referred to the Syon statues. The fact that they were missing from Clarac’s and Michaelis’ nearly exhaustive corpora was both a sign of, and further cause for their neglect. In 1923, Frederik Poulsen meticulously recorded three of the ancient statues at Syon, but since the scope of his work only covered portraits, he paid little attention to the figure of Aphrodite: "The so-called Livia has a modern head, copied from that of the Agrippina the Elder in the Capitoline Museum, and placed on an antique statue" (Poulsen, op. cit., 1923, pp. 16-17).  His figure 13, a small grainy photograph in which the head is hard to see, is the only one ever to be published by scholars. Unlike the three other ancient statues at Syon, which were well illustrated by Poulsen, Aphrodite was not reproduced as a line drawing by Salomon Reinach in his Répertoire de la sculpture grecque et romaine, vol. V, 1924, p. 534, which may have further contributed to her falling into relative oblivion. From then on, it was simply assumed that the head was a cleverly grafted replacement carried out by a skillful eighteenth-century restorer. This was probably due in part to the presence of a fine fracture beneath the neckline, and also to the fact that no scholar had inspected the head in person following Poulsen’s pronouncement. Even the archaeologists who so thoroughly published the Pozzuoli Aphrodite still assumed that the head was new (Valéri and Zevi, op. cit., 2005, p. 87, note 278). The only published reference to the head being ancient and never broken, a discovery apparently first made by Sascha Kansteiner after examining the statue in person, appears in a footnote to an article published in a Romanian journal in 2013 (Kansteiner, op. cit., 2013). We are grateful to Adriano Aymonino, of the University of Buckingham, for sharing with us the important contribution he made to the history of the decoration of the Great Hall at Syon House on pp. 99-101 of his doctoral dissertation, entitled  Aristocratic splendour: Hugh Smithson Percy (1712-1786) and Elizabeth Seymour Percy (1716-1776), 1st Duke and Duchess of Northumberland. A case study in patronage, collecting and society in eighteenth-century Britain (to be published by Yale University Press).

  • GBRGrande Bretagne
  • 2014-07-09
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A MAGNIFICENT IMPERIAL TRIBUTE ORMOLU, ENAMEL, PASTE-SET AUTOMATON TABLE CLOCK, GUANGZHOU WORKSHOPS

A MAGNIFICENT IMPERIAL TRIBUTE ORMOLU, ENAMEL AND PASTE-SET Quarter striking AUTOMATON TABLE CLOCK, GUANGZHOU WORKSHOPS QING DYNASTY, QIANLONG PERIOD (1736-1795), MOVEMENT LATER, The richly gilded upright case of rectangular section resting on four elaborately ornamented bracket feet ending in scrolled toes, joined by pierced aprons with garlands of leaves and berries, supported at each corner by columns cast with opulent foliate scrolls, flowers and fruit terminating in four grotesque animal heads, the central panel enclosing a later associated painted 6 3/4-inch dial with Roman numerals and pierced bright cut engraved gilt hands, the paste-set bezel with convex glass, cornered by applied clear paste-set flower heads amidst trailing leafy sprays set with green paste-set brilliants, surmounted by a painted automaton scene depicting a Chinese garden setting with figures passing over a bridge, all against a mirrored background, the polished side panels each lavishly decorated with applied shell handles within a beaded frame and suspending pierced scrollwork, the case surmounted by a pierced foliate balustrade framing a further automaton of spiral twisted glass rods simulating a cascading waterfall, supporting an elaborate gilded double-gourd vase decorated with scrolling flowers and leafy sprays, the lower part of drum shape housing the automaton with ten paste-set flower-heads centered by a Catherine's wheel against a translucent blue guilloche enamel ground, all turning and revolving simultaneously with the striking work, the upper part similarly decorated with scrollwork and set to the front with the auspicious Chinese characters 'da ji' (Great Prosperity) in vibrant red paste stones, the sides with tied drapery in translucent blue enamel crowned by a white and red paste-set revolving pineapple form finial, a spring barrel movement contained within the lower portion for driving the automaton work on the vase, the case now with purpose fitted late 19th Century three train fusee movement with anchor escapement, trip repeat quarter striking on a nest of eight bells and striking the hours on a further bell, the automaton functions all driven by the striking train, the backplate engraved with foliate scrolls and spuriously signed Robert Philip.

  • USAUSA
  • 2010-06-08
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A george iii ormolu, geneva enamel and paste-set musical automaton

Composed of five tiers, the surmount with a multi-faceted automaton star above rotating paste-set pillars enclosing English enamel plaques which transform into a paste-set rotating drum, the subsequent tiers each supported by eight pillars to the canted corners and comprising; a rotating enamel-mounted cube set on each side with contra-rotating whorls; an enamel-mounted cube with 2½-inch enamel clock dial and containing a two train chain fusee movement with anchor escapement and silk suspension, quarter striking on two bells, signed on the backplate Thompson, London; a water feature formed by spinning glass rods and with two swans swimming on a simulated pond; an enamel-mounted cube with a large metamorphic whorl and containing a substantial tandem-wound combination spring barrel and chain fusee movement with a 3½-inch pinned cylinder playing two airs on eight bells with fourteen hammers and driving all of the automaton features; the whole set with extremely fine guilloche Geneva enamel panels, finely pierced graduated galleries and mounted with crisply cast and chased floral swags, on foliate claw feet: together with a teak travelling case The 17th and 18th Centuries saw an explosion of European interest in all things Chinese. The import of goods such as tea, silks and porcelain from China grew rapidly but it was a one-way trade with the Chinese showing little interest in English commodities. The East India Company found that trading conditions were never easy and it was often essential to present lavish gifts in order to facilitate deals. High quality novelty clocks and watches made in London proved popular gifts and, as they filtered into the upper echelons of Chinese society, demand for these 'sing-songs' increased. Ian White in his book English Clocks for the Eastern Markets explains in detail about the growth in this trade and collecting in China. In England there was a drive to make more accurate time keepers, often housed in fine quality though plain cases. In China there was little interest in time keeping but a fascination with musical and automaton functions.  The English merchants and some clockmakers capitalised on this desire by making evermore elaborate and fanciful clocks and many of the finest examples were acquired by the Qing Emperors. This magnificent clock, originally one of a pair, is first mentioned by the Swiss horological author, Alfred Chapuis, in his book le Monde des Automates, published in 1928, [1]. He attributed the clocks to the collection of Gustave Loup, and commenced his description of the clock shown as follows: "In this piece we see the spirit of Cox's Museum; a large pair of clocks of the Louis XVI period.  These two splendid pieces were originally owned by the Chinese emperors. They subsequently became the property of one of the sisters of the ‘Son of Heaven’ on the occasion of her wedding, who, according to custom, would take away with her some family objects. They were transported, about 40 years ago, from Pekin to Lao Ting; the journey was completed in 12 days by 16 coolies, and such care was taken that they arrived in perfect condition (according to the information provided in 1913 by the Palace officials)." Gustave Loup (1876–1961), who was from a Swiss family of watch and clock dealers, was born in Tientsin (Tianjin), became a fluent mandarin speaker, and expert in several aspects of Chinese art and history. With his brother Bernard, they developed their watch importing business, and in 1915 took over the firm of Vrard and Co. Gustave lived in Tianjin until 1930, when he left to live in Geneva. A short history of the Loup family has been published by Nickles van Osselt in Arts of Asia (July/August 2013). Loup’s Acquisition of the clocks: Although the early history of the clocks in China is not clear from the Chapuis quotation, there is no doubt that Loup acquired both clocks in China, probably in the period 1911–23, and that they came from the palace at Jehol. In a letter to Chapuis of 23 April 1942, he wrote:[2] "I have the catalogue of the Museum in Peking on the clocks and gold objects; have you read it? For your information, I must say, that the most beautiful parts of the collection of the Palace at Jehol are in my possession, as I managed to get these, through intermediaries, before the establishment of the Museum of Peking. The best evidence is that when I was in Peking in the years 1923 to 1925, the Directorate of the Museum intended to buy back from me the Swan clocks, the Craft clock and the clock by Henry Borrell, London, decorated with peacock feathers, the emblem of the Prince of Wales." This statement confirms that the Swan clocks, and the others mentioned were in the palace at Jehol, and that Loup acquired them, presumably after 1913, in the light of the comment about the Chinese officials giving him details of the clocks’ journey to “Lao Ting”, and surely before 1923, when the Museum managers sought to buy them back from him. In the same letter Loup asks that Chapuis note that: "In 1923, a group of antique specialists in Peking asked me if I would accept the position as curator of the National Museum in Peking (The Palace Museum). The Chinese would have preferred a European for this important position because the Chinese management was not very competent, and there was a problem with objects disappearing, or antique objects being exchanged for modern copies. The offer of the Chinese antiquaries in Peking, for the post of curator at the museum in Beijing in 1923, acknowledged my skills in ancient Chinese arts, and though a European, I was considered 'Chinese being born in Tientsin'. Chinese laws do admit that a foreigner born in China [can hold the post of] a Chinese academic, or can even get a post as a public servant. I am entitled to apply for state positions. I think I was wrong to refuse; on my second trip to Beijing, from 1928 to 1930, these same antiquaries again reiterated the offer, but I refused a second time" [3 June 1942, Geneva]. In view of the turbulent state of the country in 1914, the Republican leaders in Peking realising that the Imperial collections needed special measures for their conservation, ordered that all the contents of the Palaces at Mukden (Shenyang), Jehol (Rehe) and the former Empress’s New Summer Palace on the outskirts of Peking be brought into the Forbidden City in Peking for their safe protection. In consequence of this directive, some 70,000 objects were collected, and public displays of the treasures were organised in 1914, 1916, but the management, security and even the ownership of the Palace treasures was inadequate over the period 1914–1924, with the Emperor Pu Yi, his brother Pu Jie, and other officials taking items from the Forbidden city. In 1924 the government appointed Li Yuying, a faculty member of Peking University, Chairman of the committee responsible for the Imperial Household’s buildings and antiquities. The committee greatly improved palace security, and ordered a full inventory of all antiquities begun in 1924, and ultimately listing some 9000 paintings, 10,000 porcelains, 5000 bronze mirrors and much more.[3] Loup probably obtained the two Swan clocks (and others) from personnel in the Palace Museum in this weak period from 1913–1924. Following the establishment of the Committee such acquisitions after this date would have been extremely difficult. In 1938/39 Gustave Loup sold this clock to Jaques-David LeCoultre (1875-1948), Director General of LeCoultre & Cie. Following Jaques-David's death the clock passed to his son, Roger LeCoultre, who sold it to the father of the present owner in 1953. The pair to this clock was sold Christies, London, 11th/12th June 2003, Lot 45. Sotheby's would like to thank Dr Ian White for his help in cataloguing the present clock. 1 Alfred Chapuis, and Edourd Gelis, Le Monde des Automates (Paris: Neuchâtel, Switzerland, 1928); Translation of the above quotation is by Nellie White. 2 The letters from Loup to Chapuis are quoted by permission of Fonds Alfred Chapuis, Musée d’horlogerie du Locle, Switzerland. 3 Jeanette Shambaugh Elliot and David Shambough, The Odyssey of China’s Imperial Art Treasures (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2005).

  • GBRGrande Bretagne
  • 2014-07-09
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A pair of magnificent imperial porcelain vases, imperial porcelain

Of bandeau form with cylindrical necks and flared feet, on square gilt-bronze bases, the central panels painted after mid-17th century Dutch or Flemish Old Master genre scenes of musical gatherings, the first depicting The Concert by Anthonie Palamedes, signed lower right in Cyrillic 'Golov', the second with an unidentified picture, signed lower right in Cyrillic 'Meshcheriakov', within ciselé gilt frames, the bodies and rims with raised and gilt neoclassical friezes comprising acanthus, anthemia, rosettes and arches on purple grounds, the sides and backs painted en grisaille with an undulating band of conjoined acanthus swirls on black grounds, the four sections of the bodies joined by gilt-bronze rings cast with further neoclassical ornament, the scroll handles issuing from acanthus leaf brackets and terminating in seed pods, one vase with blue underglaze cipher of Nicholas I and date 1833 Porcelain Production during the Reign of Emperor Nicholas I The first thing always said about the large-scale porcelain vases produced by the Imperial Porcelain Manufactory during the reign of Emperor Nicholas I (r. 1825-1855) is that they represent the pinnacle of porcelain production in Russia.  That this view is often repeated makes it no less worth stating and is especially true of this pair of magnificent vases.  Produced earlier than most examples, incorporating rare decorative elements including the striking purple ground and the monochromatic band of acanthus swirls, and with especially well-executed reproductions of Old Master paintings, these vases rank among the very best, most desirable examples of their type. Under Nicholas I, who was an enthusiastic patron of the arts and had a particular interest in the production of his porcelain manufactory, technical and artistic advances were encouraged.  Previously, Russian porcelain consisted entirely of Russian clay, following the decree of the Empress Elizabeth Petrovna who founded the Imperial factory in 1744 and insisted that the porcelain produced should be entirely ‘of Russian earth’.  Nicholas I, not remembered by history for progressive views in his political thinking, was broad-minded enough to allow the addition of Limoges clay to the paste.  This allowed for larger, sturdier wares to be fired.  A new, expanded palette, which included lead-based fluxes and oxide tints, meant a wider variety of colours and shades.  There were advances in firing techniques and gilding processes.  Artists imported from the Sèvres manufactory in the previous reign were training and sharing their skills with a new generation of talented painter-decorators.  The rampant building of palaces in St Petersburg and the surrounding area created demand, augmenting the Emperor’s patronage.  Finally, the Emperor let it be known that he had very high expectations of the Imperial Porcelain Manufactory. The monumental vases produced during this time were often presented to the Emperor himself, either at Easter or New Year; ten vases of various sizes were presented to him at Easter in 1835 alone.  The marriages of his three daughters beginning in 1839 meant vast dowries, which included large vases.  Furnishing the palaces of his four sons provided further impetus for production and presentation.  Other high-ranking Russians were honoured or thanked for their services with porcelain gifts.  Large-scale vases were often given to foreign ambassadors serving in Russia or sent abroad as diplomatic presentation gifts to foreign rulers and dignitaries, in part to promote the Imperial manufactory in foreign markets.  The fact that these vases appeared at the Munich dealer Bernheimer in the late 1920s suggests that they were among the treasures from various Russian palaces and museums exported and sold on the antiques market by the Soviet government during this time, although no documentation in this case has come to light. The Reproduction of Old Master Paintings onto Porcelain Vases The reproduction of paintings onto porcelain had begun at the Sèvres manufactory, thereafter spreading to Berlin.  It was first practiced in Russia during the reign of Alexander I and gained momentum during that of Nicholas I, becoming something of a Russian specialty which lasted well into the reign of Alexander II.  ‘Nowhere else in Europe… were so many paintings copied on vases for as long a duration as in Russia.  Russian vases, with their paintings fully framed in tooled gold, took on the aspect of a small-scale moveable picture gallery’ (A. Odom, ‘Paintings on Porcelain Vases at Hillwood’, Antiques, March 2003, p. 134).  Vases became magnificent surrounds on which to display important or popular two-dimensional works of art, an inventive and successful amalgamation of the fine and decorative arts.  Old Master pictures were favoured, in keeping with the Emperor’s taste, though contemporary works, both Russian and European, were also copied.  Works from the Hermitage, the Winter Palace, Peterhof, Tsarskoe Selo and the Academy of Arts provided a wealth of source material for the painter-decorators. The process of copying a painting onto porcelain was laborious and complicated and could take up to six months to complete.  Often the paintings were first copied onto canvas, assisting the porcelain painter in manipulating the perspective to avoid distortion on the final curved surface.  Paintings were either brought to the factory for copying, or the painter-decorators worked in a room at the Hermitage specially reserved for the purpose.  Remarkable precision was achieved, artistic liberties discouraged. The painting reproduced onto one of the present vases is The Concert by Dutch Golden Age painter Anthonie Palamedes (1601-1673).  It presents an interior view of well-heeled music enthusiasts seated at a table and discussing a musical manuscript; a lute rests nearby, whilst a couple in the back are engaged in their own, presumably more private conversation; a manservant pours a drink.  Archival records discovered by Dr Ekaterina Khmelnitskaya, curator of Russian porcelain at the Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg, confirm that The Concert was sent from the Hermitage to the Imperial Porcelain Factory for copying in 1832.  The painting remains in the collection of the Hermitage today (inv. no. 897). In contrast, the other vase is painted with an outdoor scene of less well-to-do subjects, also seated at a table, one of whom is playing the cello, another looking directly at the viewer; a man and woman converse over manuscripts; another woman examines a glass.  The source painting of this second vase is unknown; it is certainly not in the collection of the Hermitage today.  It is not usual for a source painting to be unidentified.  As many of the copied pictures were sent to provincial collections in the 19th century or sold off in the 1920s and 30s, the porcelain reproduction is often all that remains as a historical record.  It is suggested here that this painting may be the work of Gillis van Tilborch (c1625-c1678), a Flemish Baroque genre painter who specialised in group portraits.  There are similarities with his work Boors Eating Drinking and Smoking Outside a Cottage (1657), notably the depiction of the architecture, and his The Lounge Bar (1657), notably his treatment of the ceramic ewer on the floor in front of the table.  Another possible author of the original painting is David Teniers the Younger (1610-1690), under whom van Tilborch may have studied.  Of course, the original painting may have been another work by Palamedes, as naturally pendant vases were often made with reproductions of two works by the same artist, but this scene appears inconsistent with his known oeuvre. The Painter-Decorators Semyon Golov and Vasili Meshcheriakov Semyon Golov (c1783-1849) was first employed by the Imperial Porcelain Manufactory in 1814, having studied in the factory school under A. Adam, and became a master in 1819.  He specialised in the copying of historical works and figure painting.  His contemporary, Vasili Meshcheriakov (born 1781), also studied under Adam and became an illustrator in 1804, a painter in 1808, and master in 1819; he was dismissed in 1846.  Both artists are regarded as the most gifted copyists of their generation. The painting of the present pair of vases is one of several known collaborations of Golov and Meshcheriakov, with each painting one of a pair of vases.  This was common practice at the Imperial Porcelain Manufactory; two artists working simultaneously on a pair would allow for orders to be filled faster.  The closest comparables to the present lot painted by Golov and Meshcheriakov are the pair in the Hermitage, dated 1831.  These blue-ground vases, of the same form and size as those of the present lot, were presented to the Emperor at Easter in 1831 (one illustrated, N. von Wolf, ed. V. Znamenov, Imperatorskii farforovyi zavod, 1744-1904, 2008, p. 319).  Perhaps their earliest collaboration occurred during the reign of Alexander I; the pair of vases painted with a Russian dance and peasant wedding are dated 1815-1825 (illustrated, ibid, p. 490).  Another pair is dated to the late 1820s and painted with allegories of Music and The Arts in the collection at Pavlosk (illustrated, ibid, p. 257); yet another pair of smaller vases is at Peterhof and dated 1826 (illustrated, ibid, p. 491).  A pair of campana-form vases, like those of the present lot dated 1833, are painted with two Dutch genre scenes, one of which is The Oyster Eaters by Gabriel Metsu, the other of an unidentified painting of a music lesson (see Christie’s London, 12 June 1997, lot 92).  A pair of vases painted after works by Angelica Kaufmann can be dated circa 1825-1830 (see Figure XX; one vase sold, Sotheby’s Geneva, 26 November 1982, lot 283; the other vase sold, Sotheby’s Geneva, 1 May 1985, lot 557).  Another pair of small vases, painted after or in the manner of Kaufmann and dated circa 1830, also bears both Golov’s and Meshcheriakov’s signatures (see Figure XX; sold, Sotheby’s New York, 16 April 2007, lot 112).

  • GBRGrande Bretagne
  • 2013-11-26
Prix ​​d'adjudication
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A pair of gilt-bronze-mounted japanese kakiemon porcelain and egyptian

Each with a Kakiemon bowl and cover with ridges suggesting a pumpkin, one decorated in kakiemon style and palette with roundels of phoenix (ho-ho birds) encircling a flaming Tama, interspersed with floral sprigs of chrysanthemums, prunus and pomegranate, the decoration of the other bowl identical but with fierce dragons substituted for the ho-ho, the footrims of both bowls cut-down for fitting the mounts, the domed cover with a berried foliate finial with pierced beaded borders, each on tripod supports with chain-hung cherub terms on circular porphyry plinths mounted with ribbon-tied floral swags within a berried laurel border and with a mis au bleu ground with a female mask within a sunburst motif, on bun feet; one Kakiemon cover restored COMPARATIVE LITERATURE: Sylvia Vriz, “ Le duc d’Aumont et les porcelaines d‘Extrême-Orient de la collection de M. Jean de Jullienne“ in Sèvres: Revue de la Société des amis du musée national de céramique, n.22, 2013, p.89-98. Jannic Durand ed., Decorative Furnishings in the Louvre from Louis XIV to Marie-Antoinette, Paris, 2014, p. 174 and pp. 444-445, no. 185. Hans Ottomeyer and Peter Pröschel, Vergoldete Bronze: Die Bronzearbeiten des Spätbarock und Klassizismus, Munich,1986, p.577-578. Le Baron Ch. Davillier, Le Cabinet du duc d’Aumont et les amateurs de son temps: Catalogue de sa vente avec les prix, les noms des acquéreurs et 32 planches d’après Gouthière, Paris, A. Aubry, 1870. Gillian Wilson, Mounted Oriental Porcelain in the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, 1999, p. 107, no. 22 (87.DI. 137). Philippe-François Julliot and Alexandre-Joseph, Catalogue de feu M. le duc d’Aumont, le 12 Décembre,1782, Paris. THE PROVENANCE The earliest appearance of the kakiemon bowls and covers can be traced back to when only one of the bowls and covers decorated with the phoenix and floral cartouches belonged to Jean de Jullienne (1686-1766), the director of the Gobelins, which were listed as no. 982 in the inventory drawn up after Julienne’s death on March 30th 1767, and had been located in the galerie of his apartment at the Gobelins. The single bowl and cover was then purchased by Louis–Marie-Augustin, 5th duc d'Aumont, (1709-1782), at the sale of Jean de Jullienne’s estate on 30th March 1767, no. 1362: `une cassolette, aussi d’ancienne porcelain, d’excellente & rare qualité à oiseaux, bouquets varies en couleur, & de forme à côtes peu sensibles, qui donne un double meéite à ce morceau, orné d’une garniture sagement compose en bronze, adjugée 610 livres au duc d’Aumont’, (`a cassolette from old porcelain, of excellent and rare quality with birds, bouquets of flowers in various colours with delicate moulding, which renders this piece more impressive, embellished with a subtle bronze fittings’,for 610 livres). Such was the passion of the duc for Oriental porcelain that he purchased 85 objects comprised in 46 lots in the Jullienne sale which had 198 lots of oriental porcelain, so that at least 20% of the Duke’s porcelain collection came from this sale, not including the objects he purchased later which also used to belong to Jullienne. The single bowl and cover decorated with the phoenix and another decorated with dragons, cartouches and pomegranates were listed together as no. 628 in the inventory drawn up 1st May 1782 after the death of the duc d’Aumont valued at 900 livres. It is not known how or when the duc acquired the dragon cassolette, however, what is known is that he bought objects not only from the leading marchands-merciers such as Thomas Joachim Hebert or Lazare Duvaux, but also from the most important sales of the 18th century, including the Duc D’Ancezune’s, the Duc de Tallard’s, M.Gaignat’s and later M. Randon de Boisset’s. After the duc acquired the bowl and cover at the Jullienne sale, he must have decided to update them and make them more fashionable with gilt-bronze mounts by the most talented and celebrated bronzier of the Louis XVI era Pierre Gouthière (1740-1806), in around 1770-1775. Gouthière is known to have supplied the mounts, as in the duc d’Aumont catalogue of 12th December 1782, lot 43 is listed with a G for Gouthière : `Deux cassolettes rondes à côtes peu sensibles, ce qui augmente leur mérite : l’une à trois cartouches de dragon entremêlés de bouquets & grenade, l’autre à trois cartouches d’oiseau séparés aussi par des bouquets, tant sur le pourtour que sur le couvercle de chacune; elles sont ornées d’un bandeau à fil de perles entre deux moulures ouvragées servant de gorge, de trépied  culot en cannelures torses, chaînons entre trois consoles à tête d’enfant terme, se terminant par une griffe de lion et socle à gorge unie à feuilles d’eau, présentant sur son dessus intérieur un soleil entouré d’un cercle à entrelacs découpés à jour, avec double socle de porphyre garni du haut d’un cercle à fil de perles, de guirlandes, de roses sur les faces et de socle à tore de laurier, le tout de bronze doré d’or mat, G. diamètre de la porcelaine, 5 pouces 3 lignes (14.2105cm); Epaisseur du socle 2 pouces  9 lignes (7.4436cm), Largeur des socles 4 pouces (10.828 cm ). `Two round cassolettes very slightly lobed which increase their worth: one cassolette with three dragon cartouches entwined with bouquets and pomegranates, the other with three bird cartouches also separated by flower bouquets, both on the surrounds and the covers. They are decorated with a beadwork set between two moulded bands serving as collars, the tripod base with twisted and fluted base, chain links between three console with child head ends and paw feet, the base with a rim of leaves, presenting on its interior a sun surrounded by fashionable tracery work; each with a double base consisting of a porphyry pedestal decorated with a circle beadwork and applied garlands of roses on the sides, and a plinth with a laurel wreath, the whole made of gilt bronze with a matt effect by G’. The duc’s collection was feted by his contemporaries and as a great collector and connoisseur himself, d'Aumont would assemble one of the largest collections of oriental lacquer and porcelain, marbles and hardstones in the second half of the 18th century, many of these set in superb gilt-bronze mounts by Gouthière. Significantly Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette acquired more than 52 lots from his sale both for their own personal collections and the future Louvre Museum. The sale catalogue of 1782 is divided into sections, starting with porphyry, hardstones and marbles, followed by a small section with coloured porcelain, a Japanese and Chinese porcelain section, ending with Japanese lacquer, furniture and clocks. Among the celadon porcelain, described as porcelains d'ancien celadon du japon or porcelains de truité fin d'ancien japon, many items are marked with 'G' denoting Gouthière's authorship.  Mounting oriental porcelain, particularly celadon wares, was clearly one of his main areas of interest and in the 1782 sale, these items fetched extremely high prices with many being acquired by the King (J. Parker, Le Cabinet du Duc d'Aumont, 1986, p. 67). The duc’s sale catalogue included 17 lots of `old Japan porcelain’ which differs from the porcelain of the brûle parfums which indicates the great diversity and quality of his porcelain collection. The brûle parfums were bought for 2703 livres at the Duc d’Aumont sale by the dealer Philippe-Francois Julliot on behalf of Louis XVI, with the intention of installing them in the Louvre Museum, but by 1792 the Museum had still not been established. Since 1768, the King had the intention to create a public Museum in the galerie of the Louvre and to use his purchases to decorate the new galleries, however, the project was only realised in 1793. Julliot had the brûle parfums in his possession on the 22 Brumaire an II (the beginning of November 1793). Then they have been listed on January 9th 1795 in the inventory from the Depot de Nesle amongst the objects deposited by Julliot and belonging to the State,`Deux Cassolette de forme ronde à côté, cartouches de dragons, bouquets et oiseaux sur le pourtout, les dessins de la peinture sont différents l’une de l’autre, ells sont richement montées en bronze doré d’or mat, sur fûts de colonees de porphyre rouge aussi ornés de bronze doré au mat’.(“Two round cassolettes with dragons cartouches, bouquets of flowers and birds on the surround, the painting designs differ from one another, they are richly mounted with matt effect gilt bronze...”). After that, they were delivered and purchased by Denoor, interestingly in exchange for the natural history collection of her husband Levaillant and they can later be found in one of her sales on March 14th 1797 under lot 255 where they sold for 400 frcs. More recently, they were owned by Sir Alfred Chester-Beatty and by descent entered the collection of  La Comtesse D'Aubigny until sold at Christie's, London,1st July 1976, lot 82. THE KAKIEMON BOWLS AND COVERS They are made of the finest quality Japanese kakiemon porcelain, not only evidenced by their acquisition by the duc d’Aumont and Louis XVI, but also confirmed by the comments by Le Baron Ch. Davillier in his publication Le Cabinet du duc d’Aumont et les amateurs de son temps : Catalogue de sa vente avec les prix, les noms des acquéreurs et 32 planches d’après Gouthière, published in 1870,`Ces deux cassolettes, de parfait qualité, font deux bijoux précieux e curiosité, par le genre de leur dessins le goût piquant & le fin du travail de leur garniture’ (`These two cassolettes, of perfect quality, are precious jewels of curiosity, with their style of design, the discerning taste and quality of their embellishments’). Although in the literature they were always stated to be circa 1700, the delicacy of the decoration indicates a mid 18th century date. They are decorated with an association of phoenix birds (fong-honag in Chinese), the emblem of the Chinese Empress and symbol of the South and Summer and the other one has a decoration of dragons, the emblem of the Chinese Emperor, representing the East and Spring. It is intriguing to conjecture whether it was the aim of the duc to unite the bowls and covers with the symbol of the Emperor and Emperess, as he had a very good knowledge of Far Eastern culture or whether this was purely an aesthetical coincidence.  However, the choice he made to change the old mounts of Jullienne and replace them with the ones of Pierre Gouthiere is totally intentional. There are no records found to date to indicate where the duc d’Aumont purchased the dragon bowl and cover. The term`Kakiemon’ derives from the name of the celebrated Japanese potter from the mid 17th century, who is credited with being the innovator of overglaze enamel decoration. The finest examples date from the late 17th century and have a brilliant white glaze and are delicately coloured with enamels in red, orange, blue and green and according to Durand, ..elegant sweetly sober compositions that attracted the attention of collectors. Such decoration was considered to be the highest quality and was extremely sought after.‘ It is known that Chinese porcelain was imported into Europe in larger quantities and for a far longer period than Japanese porcelain, which being so different from Chinese blue and white porcelain, greatly appealed to collectors with its delicate polychrome decoration so much so, that the demand from Europe for the polychrome decoration resulted in the Chinese shifting their production to polychrome. From the second quarter of the 18th century, interiors also reflected the move from blue and white porcelain so synonymous with 17th century interiors. Japanese porcelain was so highly thought of it spawned imitators in China and Europe and by the end of the 17th century the demand for the cheaper Chinese porcelain meant it surpassed the market for Japanese porcelain which had vanished entirely by the mid 18th century. THE MOUNTS The mounts are superbly cast and chased and the matte gilding is a typical finish of Gouthière at this time and were probably designed by François-Joseph Bélanger (1744-1818), architect and designer to the duc d’Aumont. Gouthière and Bélanger collaborated for many years following their appointment by the duc to the Menus Plaisirs in 1767. Gouthière was a consummate master of the art of chasing and devised a new type of gilding that left a matt surface a technique that imparted to the gilt-bronze a soft, mellow tone. The mounts are by Pierre Gouthière as the letter `G’ mentioned in the catalogue entry indicates that the gilt-bronze mounts made for the vases as well as the gilding and chasing were all executed by Gouthière himself. When the duc’s affairs were settled in 1784, Gouthière received the enormous payment of 76,955 Livres to settle all outstanding work he had carried out for the duc. It is worthwhile noting that Bélanger wrote the following to the duc after visiting Gouthière’s workshop on 17th  November 1774: `J’ai encore vu hier tous les travaux qui se font pour vous chez le Sr Gouthière; je les ai trouvés tous entre les mains de ouvriers et très avancés; je les suis avec exactitude et je ne les perdrai point de vue qu’ils ne soient entièrement terminés’ It is not inconceivable that the brûle parfums were among the pieces in Gouthières workshop in 1774 and thus had been completed in 1775. The brûle parfums are in the form of an Antique perfume burner on a tripod base and it is surely not purely coincidental that they have a porphyry base so synonymous with Antiquity. Whilst this pair of bowls and covers are not unique, their gilt-bronze mounts elevate them to the exceptional and to date no other pair with identical mounts is recorded. However, a pair of similar proportions and decoration to this pair were owned by Louise-Jeanne de Durfort de Duras, duchesse de Mazarin (1733-1781), the duc’s daughter-in-law. The duchesse’s pair is described under lot 37 in the duchess’s estate sale on December 10th 1781: “ Two cassolettes with dragons, flower branches and pine cones on the lid, the collar and the bronze with interlacing circles and rings. They sit on a tripod base, with roundels and matt gilt bronze feet, and are raised on pink granite bases with ribbons and water leafs, both in gilt bronze.” The pair was bought by the duchesse at the Julliot sale on November 20th 1777 for 1399 livres and 19 sols. The dealer who sold them had purchased them at the Blondel de Gagny sale. Julliot was the one who changed the mounts, thus transforming the items into more fashionable pieces. They were sold at the sale of the duchesse’s estate in 1781, lot 37, after which they entered several collections before ending up in the possession of the dealer Le Brun in 1791. Also see Durand  op. cit., p. 445 for a pot pourri vase made from a Japanese kakiemon bowl and cover circa 1670-90, with Parisian gilt-bronze mounts, circa 1770, although much larger at 60cm high, once owned by Paul Randon de Boisset and then the duc d’Aumont, now in the Louvre, Paris (OA 5488). It is also on an antique style tripod stand and is stated to have been made expressly for Randon de Boisset. It did have a pendant mounted in the same way which has now disappeared. The base of the socle behind the mask on the offered pair is in 'mis au bleu' which is copper sheet metal covered in blue varnish. It is rare for it to survive as it is normally worn and regilded or overpainted. It is also very apposite that the sunburst and mask motif, the symbol of le roi soleil (the Sun King, Louis XIV) are on this pair once owned by his grandson, Louis XVI. Gouthière is also known to have used cherubs and swags on many of his pieces, for the swags see a line drawing for a pair of porphyry gris vases and covers by Gouthière in the 1782 catalogue of the sale of the duc d’Aumont, plate 6.  The berried laurel band and paw feet can be seen on a Chinese Kangxi porcelain vase mounted by Pierre Gouthière around circa 1770, now in the Getty Museum, illustrated by Wilson, op. cit., p. 107, no. 22 (87.DI. 137).  However, the idea of the cherub terms supporting the vase seem to be a unique feature.   THE PORPHYRY BASES The duc when he set up the Menus–Plaisirs to cut and polish precious marbles, employed a Genoese sculptor Augustin Bocciardi (active Paris 1760-1790), who had worked for the Menus-Plaisirs in 1766 and been appointed sculptor in 1768, who was responsible for cutting and polishing the stones. The observation in his sale catalogue notes states `M. le duc d’Aumont, jaloux de donner le plus grand caractere à son Cabinet, a fait les plus grandes recherches pour se procurer à Rome et dans tout l’Italie les marres le plus rares…’. The present bases are carved from Red Egyptian porphyry the so-called porfiro rosso antico, a porphyry which is only found in the mons porphyrites region betweeen the Middle Nile and the Red Sea. This type of Egyptian porphyry was first quarried by the Romans. After the fall of the Roman Empire the quarries ceased to be worked. Half cut monolithic columns and other fragments are still to be found in the deserted quarries today. Almost the sole source for the red porphyry of this type used in Western Europe were columns taken from classical temples and other ruined Roman remains. PIERRE GOUTHIERE (1732-c 1812) He was maître doreur in 1758 and was to become one of the most celebrated ciseleur-doreurs of the Louis XVI period. He originally began working for the gilder François Thomas Germain, one of the most celebrated doreurs of his era. On 7th November 1767, he was appointed Doreur ordinaire des menus plaisirs. In this role he worked with Bélanger for the Dauphine Marie-Antoinette from 1770. He also undertook a considerable amount of work for Madame du Barry especially for her Pavilion de Louveciennes. Among his other patrons were of course the Duc d`Aumont and his daughter-in-law, the duchesse du Mazarin and also the Comte d`Artois, later King Charles X for whom he made the chimney mounts for the Château de Bagatelle. He was subsequently employed by Les Batîments du Roi, in 1777 for the boudoir turc of the young queen Marie-Antoinette at Fontainebleau. By the 1770's Gouthière was in effect bronzier to the Queen whose shared passion for gilt-bronze mounted marbles was further emphasised by the fact that she purchased pieces mounted by him at the legendary sale of the Duc d`Aumont`s collection in 1782.  The Queen's purchase of five lots was from her own privy purse and included the celebrated brûle parfum of red jasper in the Wallace Collection (P. Hughes, The Wallace Collection. Catalogue of Furniture, vol III, London, 1996, pp.1340-1345). Gouthière’s style is markedly neoclassical, with such motifs as fauns, sphinxes, Egyptian terminal figures, thyrsi, etc. softened by the extensive use of floral and leaf (particularly vine-leaf) motifs. He was never as austerely classical as Thomire. DUC D'AUMONT (1708-1782) Louis-Marie-Augustin, succeeded as 5th Duc d`Aumont in 1723 and in the same year took up his family`s hereditary position as premier gentilhomme de la chambre to the King. This position included the supervision of the Menus-Plaisirs who were responsible for commissioning Royal gifts and for supplying articles for the royal wardrobe. He and his duchesse lived at the hotel de Mailly from 1741, which they rented from the marquis de Nesle where they resided until 1753, until the inventory after the death of the duchesse was made. He moved to Place Louis XV in 1776. The duc d`Aumont was responsible for appointing artists and craftsmen to the Menus-Plaisirs and appointed François-Joseph Bélanger (1744-1818) and Pierre Gouthière and he personally signed their warrants. Together they were both to be involved with the creation of many important pieces which included the famous jewel cabinet, now lost, but completed in 1769, to contain Marie Antoinette`s wedding present.  The duc extended these ateliers in 1770 to include the production of bronzes d'ameublement and works of art, particularly those made of marble and precious hard stones, and employed the most talented architects, designers and craftsmen to produce costly and intricate objects made of Ancient and newly quarried stone.  JEAN DE JULLIENNE (1686-1766) Jean de Jullienne (1686–1766) was one of the leading French amateurs and collectors of the eighteenth century. He was a great patron and protector of Watteau and owned more than four hundred drawings and up to forty paintings of his. He held an influential position as director of the Gobelins until 1729. Jullienne’s collection epitomised the most advanced taste of Parisian private collectors of the period. The two sales of his collection were major events for the European art market. His house still exists at 3b on the rue des Gobelins, where he had a great gallery displaying paintings from different schools, the most precious marble tables covered with antique bronze figures, busts and beautiful terracottas. In the windows, there were also marble tables covered with the most exquisite porcelain and biscuit and bronze groups. SIR ALFRED CHESTER BEATTY (1875-1968) `He was the greatest of all living figures in the mining industry, and with his passing the world has lost one of its most romantic characters', thus wrote the Times of London after his death in Monaco on January 19th, 1968 at the age of 92. He was an American by birth and one of the original mine prospectors in the American Wild West at the end of the 19th century and became a millionaire before he was thirty-five. He subsequently became a naturalised British citizen and earned a knighthood. He was responsible for the discovery and development of minerals in the British commonwealth and other parts of the world. However, he was most well known as an art connoisseur, especially of Impressionist paintings and he loved and collected rare Oriental manuscripts and the monument to the latter is the Chester Beatty Library and Museum of Oriental Art in Dublin. He made this gift as he was the first honorary citizen of Ireland and enjoyed a state funeral when he died.

  • GBRGrande Bretagne
  • 2015-04-28
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A pair of gilt-bronze-mounted sèvres soft-paste porcelain `vases medici'

Superbly painted on a pale blue ground with 'rich arabesques' including, on the upper part, draped tables supporting steaming brûle-parfums alternating with others hanging from draped baldaquins, the lower part with urns filled with flowers and overflowing with water, held within a delicate and elaborate décor of foliage, grapevine and feather arabesques, on a grey-marbleised square base, the mounts with an egg and dart rimmed bowl and twin scrolled handles cast with fruiting vine tracery; the vases cracked, the ormolu with some repair and losses Comparative Literature: D. Peters, Sèvres Plates and services of the 18th century, 2005. C. Baulez, Versailles deux siècles d'histoire de l'art, Versailles, 20007, p. 277, fig. 16. "La Collection Hodgkins", Les Arts, May 1909, fig. 2. Rosalind Savill, The Wallace collection, catalogue of Sevres Porcelain, London, 1988, p. 1066-1067. G. de Bellaigue, French Porcelain in the collection of her Majesty the Queen, London, 2009, no. 176. M. N Pinot de Villenchon, Sèvres Porcelain from the Sèvres Museum, 1740 to the Present Day, London,1993, p. 46, fig. 45. This magnificent pair of vases are exceptional in both their form and their decoration, although it has proved challenging to identify them in the Kiln records or Artist's records of the Royal Manufacture of Sèvres. The rarity of their ground colour makes it hard to know what phrase might have been used to describe them, and though they evidently date from the Neo-classical period at the very end of the reign of Louis XVI, the lack of a date code or painter's marks further complicates matters. First used by the factory circa 17551 and then falling out  of favour for a couple of decades, the revised Medici vase form had been reintroduced by 1781, by Louis-Simon Boizot who designed it possibly for the birth of the Dauphin and called it "vase jardin à dauphins", now in the Musée du Louvre2. The model was then developed in three different sizes in the following years. A plaster model for the vases is still at the factory, inscribed in pencil "Vase Medicis / 3me grandeur/1802" -the date probably having been added during the first inventory of the museum made by Alexandre Brongniart (see Fig. 1). Copied directly from Antique models taken from the Louvre museum, this renewed form was part of a larger programme of revolutionary change in style at the Sèvres factory, led by its director the comte d'Angiviller. The latter believed that good taste and true beauty resided in the art of antiquity, and he was keen on introducing to France the 'style étrusque', an archaeological Neo-classical style based on actual objects that were being excavated in southern Italy in the second half of the 18th century and were – incorrectly believed to have been made by the Etruscans3. Louis XVI offered a wonderful opportunity to the comte to develop this new neo-classical taste. In 1783, the king bought the property of Rambouillet, where he wanted to build an idealised dairy for Marie-Antoinette and her court to disport themselves as Arcadian milkmaids and rustics, in the latest fashion, as the Queen had already begun doing in the Hameau de La Reine.  D'Angiviller employed the finest artists and craftsmen for the Rambouillet project, coordinated by the painter Hubert Robert, and especially the painter Jean-Jacques Lagrenée as co-artistic director of the manufactory, to produce a service with new designs for both decoration and forms. The sky blue ground on the present pair of vases is one of these new pastel colours (others included lilac, grey, green and yellow) specifically created for the service and seems likely to be the colour referred to in the archives as fond petit bleu. See for example, the famous bowl in the shape of a woman's breast now in the Musée de Sevres and other sketch (fig.2&3). The profusion of elaborate ornaments on the present pair of vases, however, more closely echoes another very ambitious project of the period, the service arabesque (Fig. 4). Produced from 1783 to 1787, this exceptional commission was composed of unique forms individually decorated with arabesques after Raphael. The engineer and architect Louis Le Masson was employed to design classical forms and intricate decorative motifs inspired by Roman and Pompeian models, and watercolour sketches were produced for the individual items of the service, each probably having its own decorative pattern. In 1795, the Comité de Salut Public had admired this service for its superb quality, and chose it as the perfect diplomatic gift to a minister, von Hardenberg, of Friedrich Wilhelm II, the King of Prussia4. The Arabesque service was sadly to remain in the Sèvres factory's reserves. Furthermore, the Neoclassical fashion was by now as its peak and the sketches were used for other projects at the Sèvres factory, between 1786 and 1792. See for example a pair of hard-paste porcelain 'vases en cornet', circa 1786, sold Sotheby's Paris, 18 October 2006, lot 80. A "service petit bleu arabesque" was produced between 1789 and 1791 and painted (after Lagrenée's sketches) by various artists of the factory, including Guillaume Buteux and Theodore Buteux5. The decoration of that service is however considerably less ambitious than that on the present lot, and only the border of the plates bears a pattern of arabesques en camaieu on a petit bleu background (Fig. 5). As to the likely painters of our vases, one candidate may be Pierre-André Le Guay, called Le Jeune,  who was directly involved in the Service Arabesques, and who painted in 1788, a pair of porcelain vases also with a pastel ground, the fond petit verd, and very similar arabesque decoration, but with a central hunting scene en camaieu (now in Versailles, see Fig. 6). This pair was then bought by Louis XVI himself, during the Factory exhibition in 1789. In 1788, Le Guay Le Jeune also painted a pair of vases Medicis with similar but smaller arabesque friezes and essentially the same shape and gilt mounts, illustrated in 1909 when part of the Hodgkins collection (see Fig. 7)6.  A third pair of vases echoed this neoclassical taste and décor, now in the Cité de La Ceramique, Sèvres Museum7. These bear only the gilder's mark of Henri Prevost but their shape and ornament is in close relation to these others, in the same period.  Le Guay Le Jeune was most celebrated for his figure painting and it may be that several artists were involved both in these pieces, and in our own pair. Another candidate must be considered: Nicolas Sinsson, celebrated for the general excellence of his painting. Certainly, the motifs of the arabesques, particularly the scalloped drapes and the draped table supporting a vase, are echoed on a hard paste punch bowl, dated 1790, in the Royal collection.8 The painter came to specialize in friezes and arabesques and was one of those who worked on the Service Arabesque. He also, for example, completed in the 1790's vases by P-A Le Guay to which he added the arabesques. Moreover, he is known to have decorated pieces with the pastel ground colours, including petit verd and petit bleu.9 Two entries in the Sèvres decorator's records, for example, read: "24 May 1788, 2 vases en deux pieces chacun, Riches arabesques" and "27 July 1788, 2 vases en deux pieces chacun, riche arabesques".  Could the present vases perhaps represent the most ambitious work of Nicolas Sinsson?10. The superbly cast and chased gilt-bronze mounts demonstrate a most ambitious project. Interestingly, the mounts of the vases in the Hodgkins collection, previously mentioned, were then attributed to Pierre Gouthière, the outstanding Parisian ciseleur-doreur. However, recent research by Pierre Verlet, reveals that many of Gouthière's mounts were in fact made by the hand of his apprentice, Pierre-Philippe Thomire (1751-1843), who is most likely bronzier for the mounts on the offered vases. After training with Pierre Gouthiere, the latter quickly established a reputation for finely chased gilt-bronze and was responsible for designing and fitting gilt-bronze mounts at the Sèvres factory from 1783. This pair of vases appears to be one of the most ambitious and most complete projects in the 1780's-90's neoclassical fashion, and  "illustre le haut degré de raffinement et de technicite atteint par la Manufacture de Sèvres à la fin du 18th century et la conjonction des meilleurs talents du temps pour repondre à l'évolution du goût"11. Pierre-PhilippeThomire (1751-1843): Along with his master, Pierre Gouthière, Thomire was the most celebrated bronzier during the reign of Louis XVI. He was the son of a ciseleur but also received training under the sculptors A. Pajou (1730-1809) and J.-A. Houdon (1741-1828) and he cast bronze portrait busts for both. The former was also a pupil at the Académie de Saint-Luc. He was already working for the Royal family by 1775 and collaborated with Jean-Louis Prieur ciseleur et doreur du Roi, on the bronze mounts for the coronation coach of Louis XVI. He set up his own atelier the following year and in 1783, Thomire was appointed as the modeller to the Manufacture de Sèvres, succeeding Jean-Claude Duplessis. He cast and chased bronzes the following year, which were designed by the sculptor, L.-S Boizot, for a monumental vase in dark blue porcelain intended for the Musée Centrale des Arts, which is now in the Louvre (cat. no. 407).  He was still working for Sèvres during the Napoleonic period. In the accounts of the Garde-Meuble de la Couronne, his name appears frequently from 1784 as a maker of furniture mounts. He also collaborated in particular with Beneman on some pieces made for the Crown, aswell as Boulard and others, on a large screen made for Louis XVI's bedchamber at Compiègne in 1786 (now in the Louvre). He was also well known for bronzes d'ameublement such as the two sets of chenets for Marie-Antoinette's apartments at Versailles in 1786 (now in the Louvre cat.nos. 369 and 370) and the set of wall lights for Compiègne in 1787 (four are now in the Wallace Collection, London, Cat. Nos. 366-369 and two at Waddesdon Manor). Additionally he made chimney mounts for Thierry de Ville d'Avray, the contrôleur-général des Meubles de la Couronne. He also undertook other commissions for example, he executed for the City of Paris in 1785, a set of monumental candelabra for presentation to General Lafayette to celebrate the Declaration of Independence. His other patrons included the Comte d'Artois, for furnishings for the château de Bagatelle. During the Revolution, his atelier was used for the production of arms, but in 1804 he reverted to his former profession when he acquired the premises and business of the marchand-mercier Éloy Lignereux, the former partner and successor to Dominique Daguerre. His business flourished during the Empire period, and was renamed Thomire, Dutherme et Cie and in 1807, he is recorded as employing at least seven hundred workers. He enjoyed prestigious commissions from both the City of Paris and the Emperor including an important toilet service for presentation to Empress Marie-Louise on the occasion of her marriage and also the celebrated cradle for the King of Rome. He retired from business in 1823, and was awarded the Légion d'Honneur in 1834 and died in his 92nd year. His style is more purely neo-classical than Gouthière's and he utilised motifs such as Victories, sphinxes and neo-classical incense burners quite early in his career. When he made mounts for the monumental Sèvres vase in 1783, he was already using the anthemion motif. During the Louis XVI period, he appears to have sometimes cast the works himself but at other times used fondeurs such as Forestier who also worked after models he provided. He is also recorded as gilding his own bronzes and sometimes employing others to do so, such as the fondeur-ciseleur Chaudron. His work pre-revolution is to be found in all the major collections including the Louvre, Versailles, Fontainebleau, Compiègne, the Pitti Palace, Florence, the Wallace collection and Waddesdon Manor. The marchands-merciers and Dominique Daguerre: The marchands-merciers were great innovators and entrepreneurs in 18th century Paris. They played an important role in instigating fashion trends during the latter part of the reign of Louis XV and in particular during the reign of Louis XVI. Their success depended in no small part upon their ability to harness many different trades resulting in innovative and superlatively executed pieces of furniture and luxury objects that satisfied the insatiable appetite of collectors. Those at the forefront of establishing taste included Darnault, Hébert, Duvaux, Poirier, and his successor Daguerre and led the way in setting the trends in interior decoration and furnishings in the second half of the 18th century. They invented new techniques and instigated new designs. It was they who created a market in objets de luxe, by mounting oriental and French porcelain to fit effortlessly into French interiors and also mounting French Sèvres porcelain on furniture by some of the leading ébénistes of the day. They worked not only for their most important clientèle, the French Court, but also private clients. Lazare Duvaux's main client was Madame de Pompadour. The success of Poirier was almost solely down to Madame du Barry and his successor Dominique Daguerre became the chief supplier to the Court of Louis XVI. As early as 1760, Poirier had established a virtual monopoly in buying plaques of soft-paste porcelain from the Manufacture Royale de Sèvres. This monopoly resulted in a large production of Sèvres-mounted pieces of furniture. Poirier and Daguerre were instrumental in supervising the employment of porcelain plaques on pieces of furniture from the leading 18th century Parisian ébénistes such as Adam Weisweiler, Martin Carlin, Roger Vandercruse and these pieces were often fitted with fine gilt-bronze mounts by Pierre Gouthière. Dominique Daguerre was one of the most celebrated Parisian marchand-mercier who was in partnership from 1772 with Simon-Philippe Poirier. Daguerre took over Poirier's business at La Couronne d'Or in the Faubourg Saint-Honoré in 1777/78. In 1778, Daguerre moved to London, and went into partnership with Martin-Eloi Lignereux, who remained in Paris. Daguerre's premises were in Sloane Street, Chelsea and he supplied furniture to George, Prince of Wales, around 1787-89 for the interiors at Carlton House, where his account in 1787 for furniture and furnishings totalled £14,565 13s 6d and at Brighton Pavilion. Surviving bills record that chimneypieces were imported from Paris, to be adjusted by craftsmen in London. At Carlton House, and Woburn Abbey, and for Earl Spencer at Althorp (1790), Daguerre worked in collaboration with the architect Henry Holland and sets of mahogany chairs by Georges Jacob, with openwork backs in lozenges and circles, are in the Royal Collection and in the Library at Woburn, where Holland was executing alterations; they are likely to have been supplied through Daguerre. Sotheby's is very grateful to David Peters for his help in cataloguing  this lot. 1 Vase dit Le Boiteux, Brunet et Preaud, Sèvres des origines a nos jours, Fribourg, 1978, fig. 70. 2 This vase was offered in 1997 to the Musée du Louvre, see Louis-Simon Boizot, 1743-1809, exhibition catalogue, Versailles, 2001, p. 261, fig. 3. 3 Selma Schwartz, "The 'Etruscan' style at Sèvres, A bowl from Marie-Antoinette's dairy at Rambouillet", The Metropolitan Museum Journal N. 37, 2002, pp. 259-266. 4 David Peters, op. cit., pp. 1085-1095. 5 Choisy, Drouet, Massy, Philippine Cadet, Taillandier,Viellard fils. David Peters, op. cit., pp. 1049-1051. 6 Chavagnac in his article in Les Arts describes the date letter as LL which was thought to be then 1789. 7 MCN, 25, 493, 1-2 8 G. de Bellaigue, op. cit., no. 176 9 R. Savill, op. cit.,p. 1066-1067. 10 Another entry however records that the painter Jean-Pierre Fumez on 23rd July 1788 painted "2 collet et pieds a deux vases de Sinsson, Arabesques". 11 Virginie Desrante, "Le service de Marie-Antoinette pour la laiterie de Rambouillet", Sevres Cite de la ceramique, Fevrier 2011

  • GBRGrande Bretagne
  • 2012-07-04
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Study of a lady, possibly for The Richmond Water-Walk

In this exceptionally rare late work, dating from circa 1785, a lady walks gracefully through a river landscape populated by trees and shrubs. Gainsborough presents a sumptuous vision of a highly fashionable young woman, emblematic of her times. Her elaborate dress, with its swathes of silk, together with the coquettish tilt of her head beneath a ribboned hat, the lightness of the springs of her curls and the tactile fur of her hand-muff, creates a seductive and enticing image of feminine charm and beauty. The drawing forms part of a celebrated group of five full-length studies, each depicting beautifully dressed woman in a rural setting. Two of these drawings are in the British Museum, London (see figs. 1 & 2) , one is in the Pierpont Morgan Library, New York (see fig. 3), while the fourth is now in the Getty Museum, Los Angeles (see fig. 4), having been sold at Christie’s, London, in 1991 for £619,000.1 The present work therefore remains the only drawing of the group still in private hands. Dr. John Hayes described this group as ‘amongst the most brilliant and ravishing of Gainsborough’s late drawings.’2 If however, their artistic merit is at once obvious, their intended purpose has been much debated. One possibility is that Gainsborough created them as independent works, to be referred to when required.  Certainly during the 1780s he worked on a number of portraits principally of young woman in which the figures move gently about a romantic woodland setting. Indeed his Portrait of Sophia, Lady Sheffield shows the sitter striking a comparable pose to the figure in one of the drawings in the British Museum.3 At one time all five of the drawings were identified as depicting the great beauty, Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire (1757-1806). However, although this tradition goes back to the 1830s and Gainsborough of course painted the Duchess on several occasions throughout the 1780s, the evidence remains questionable. These drawings have also been connected with two compositions by Gainsborough. An inscription on the reverse of the second British Museum drawing,4 written by Gainsborough’s close friend William Pearce, indicates a connection with The Mall, a major canvas which depicts gentile persons walking in St. James Park.5 Pearce wrote that his drawing was a ‘study for a painting commissioned by King George III who had expressed a wish to have a picture representing that part of St. James’ Park which is overlooked by the garden of the Palace – the assemblage being there, for five or six seasons, as high dressed and fashionable as Ranelagh… while sketching one morning in the Park for this picture [Gainsborough] was much struck by what he called ‘the fascinating leer’ of the Lady who is the subject of the drawing. He never knew her name, but… observing that he was sketching, she walked to and fro two or three times, evidently to allow him to make a likeness.’6 Dr. Hayes however cast doubt over the accuracy of Pearce’s note. He conceded that Gainsborough had employed similar poses for the principal figures of The Mall, but he also noted that that picture had never been associated with George III. Furthermore The Mall was painted in the winter of 1783, when the fashion of the day was quite different from that of 1785. Certainly the wide-brimmed ‘picture’ hat, which is such a prominent feature of all five drawings had, by that date, not taken the London fashion world by storm. Dr. Hayes did suggest an alternative theory. He connected the group of drawings with a painting that was mentioned in the Morning Herald on the 20th October 1785. Sir Henry Bate-Dudley (1745-1824 ) wrote that ‘Gainsborough is to be employed…. on a companion to his beautiful Watteau-like picture of the Park-Scene [The Mall]: the landscape [is to be] Richmond Water-walk or Windsor – the figures all portraits.7 Sadly it seems that this painting was never completed, but Hayes felt that it was quite possible that Gainsborough may have begun working on ideas for the project. Without the survival of a preparatory compositional drawing for the work, it is unlikely that scholars will be able to unravel the mysteries of these drawings. None-the-less this work, and its companions, occupy a highly important place within Gainsborough’s oeuvre.  Dr. Hayes and Lindsey Stainton perhaps encapsulated their true significance when they explained that ‘the drawings are characterized by an extraordinary sense of movement, both on the part of the figures and of the landscape. The abandon of hair and costume is taken up in the almost dizzy rhythms of the conventions for depicting foliage and tree trucks, with which the figures are thus so closely integrated, and the astonishingly vigorous highlights in white chalk, while modelling the dresses with a marvellous plasticity unusual in Gainsborough, also display a spirited independent life of their own, echoing and hinting at, rather than delineating form. Nevertheless, beneath the costumes which billow out so splendidly behind them, the figures possess a remarkable weight and substance.’8 1.  London, Christie’s, 9 July 1991, lot 90 2.  J. Hayes, 'Gainsborough's Richmond Water-walk', The Burlington Magazine, January 1969, p. 28 3.  British Museum, 1897-4-10-20 4.  J. Hayes, The Drawings of Thomas Gainsborough, London 1970, no. 59 5.  The Frick Collection, New York; 6.  J. Hayes and Lindsey Stainton, Gainsborough Drawings, Washington 1983, p. 180 7.  J. Hayes, 'Gainsborough's Richmond Water-walk', The Burlington Magazine, January 1969, p. 31 8.  J. Hayes and Lindsey Stainton, Gainsborough Drawings, Washington 1983, p. 13

  • GBRGrande Bretagne
  • 2013-12-04
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Two pairs of Italian gilt-bronze-mounted kingwood, tulipwood and parquetry commodes, Neapolitan

Two pairs of Italian gilt-bronze-mounted brèche violette marble topped kingwood, tulipwood and parquetry commodes, in the Régence manner, Neapolitan second quarter 18th century, The larger pair: Each of gentle serpentine form with a moulded brèche violette marble top above two long drawers, the upper drawer fitted with four short and one long drawer and three pigeon holes inlaid with herringbone parquetry within fruitwood banding with eagle's head handles, the escutcheons cast with stylised scallopshells, c-scrolls and foliage, the corner mounts cast with a female mask in a feathered headdress above a grotesque mask amongst rocaille and scrolls above trails of husks, with a handle on each quarter-veneered side above a shaped apron applied with a c-scroll and scallopshell cast mount flanked by scrolls and foliage, each knee with a grotesque mask, on claw and ball feet, the whole inlaid with parquetry; marble tops restored the smaller pair: Each of gentle serpentine form with moulded brèche violette marble tops above two serpentine drawers and serpentine sides, with eagle's head handles, the escutcheons cast with stylised scallopshells, c-scrolls and foliage, the corner mounts cast with a female mask in a feathered headdress above a grotesque mask amongst rocaille and scrolls above trails of husks, with a handle on each side above a shaped apron, each knee with a grotesque mask on claw and ball feet, the whole inlaid with parquetry   Larger pair : one 95cm. high, 131cm. wide, 66cm. deep; the other: 94cm. high, 131cm. wide, 66cm. deep; 3ft.1in., 4ft.3in., 2ft.1½in., 3ft.½in., 4ft.3in., 2ft.1½in.; smaller pair each: 89cm. high, 91cm. wide, 48cm. deep; 2ft.10½in., 2ft.11in., 1ft.6¼in.

  • GBRGrande Bretagne
  • 2010-07-06
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A george iii paste-set ormolu musical automaton clock circa 1780, signed

Of impressive scale in the form of an Asian elephant supporting a canopied howdah enclosing a figure of Atlas supporting an armillary sphere, the pagoda surmounted by a foliate and painted finial supporting a bejewelled counter-rotating 'Catherine wheel' topped with a pineapple, the elephant, finely chased, in two sections, enclosing one movement, its back draped with a blanket hung with jewelled pearl fringes, the elephant stands upon a finely worked rockwork base, mounted with flowers and rosette form covers enclose the winding apertures, inset to the front with an enamel clock dial with roman numerals and a red and clear jewelled bezel, the reverse set with another dial for selecting one of the six tunes (Gavot, Song, Jigg, Gavot, Minuet and Dance) the mechanism for which is enclosed in the lower section which is painted on metal with landscapes and mounted with ormolu rockwork, bridges, pavilions, pagodas and windmills with turning elements and enclosing glass 'waterfall' rods to all sides, with trophy panels to the canted angles and a burnished and leaf-cast plinth with pierced Chinese fret and anthemia aprons, supported to the corners by seated Chinese figures. The elephant demonstrates four mechanical movements every three hours which run simultaneously in addition to the spinning of the jewelled sections on the finial, the twisting of the glass 'waterfall' rods and the movement of the wheels and windmills on the base. The elephants movements consist of the movement up and down and rotation of the trunk, flapping of the ears a swishing of the tail and a rolling of the blue and grey painted eyes from side to side. These movements can also be actioned by pulling of the cord at the rear left foot of the elephant or in conjunction with any of the six musical tunes operated by pushing a button in the underside of the base. The pineapple finial and painted copper panels to the finial, the jewelled whirly-gig and bezels, winding covers, pearl fringes and pierced aprons to the two long sides and one short side replacements post the 2002 sale, with three plugged holes to the elephants head possibly suggesting that there was originally a figure seated at this point. The clock movement with three chain fusees, the verge escapement with reinstated knife-edge pendulum, striking the hours on a bell and playing one of six tunes on a carillon of ten bells with twelve hammers at each hour or at will. An attached fusee movement operating the glass rod simulated waterfalls and base automata in conjunction with the music. A large fusee movement within the body of the elephant operating the upper automaton features.   This magnificent automaton clock typifies the intriguing and inventive objects produced in London for the Eastern markets in the second half of the eighteenth century owing to the dominance of the British in the trade between Western Europe and the Far East from the 1760s. Elephant form clocks had become popular in Europe from the mid-eighteenth century, most notably in France where numerous models were made, inspired no doubt by renaissance models many of which emanated from Augsburg in the sixteenth century. Clocks and novelty items had been popular in the Far East from a very early period so the influx of such items was not a newly acquired taste. Simon Harcourt-Smith who surveyed the clocks in the Imperial Palaces in the early 20th century produced an extraordinary account of these pieces that was published as, A catalogue of Various Clocks, Watches, Automata, and other Miscellaneous Objects of European Workmanship dating from the XVIII and Early XIX Centuries, in the Palace Museum and the Wu Ying Tien, Peiping, Peiping, The Palace Museum,1933. In the introduction to this now scarce source he writes in the introduction; 'Taste for clocks and other curiosities of the West seems to have invaded the court of China at an early date; already at the beginning of the fourteenth century a French ironsmith, Guillaume Boucher, probably a prisoner brought back from some Mongol raid in Hungary, had constructed for the first Yuan Emperor of China an elaborate clock with fountains; and when in 1599, the great missionary Matteo Ricci arrived in Peking he secured Imperial favour and an entry to the Court largely by a gift of clocks. However, only at the end of the seventeenth century, in the reign of K'ang Hsi, that clocks in large numbers began to invade the Palace. This enlightened monarch, who was filled with an admiration, rare in this dynasty, for the arts and science of Europe, welcomed learned Jesuit mathematicians and philosophers to his Court, and formed a collection of scientific instruments and timepieces of all descriptions. So great in fact was his passion for horology, that the Society of Jesus, at the beginning of the eighteenth century, found it necessary to despatch to Peking an accomplished clockmaker, Father Stadlin, under whose direction a small factory for the manufacture of clocks and watches was set up within the Palace walls. From this time until the dissolution of the Order in 1773-4, there was always a Jesuit in charge if the Emperor's clocks.' The current clock is of a scale rarely found and would almost certainly have been made with the intention of it being exported to China. Ornately embellished figures of elephants whether made in cloisonné, bronze, hardstones or jade were frequently found in the halls and throne rooms throughout the Chinese Imperial Palaces. As such it is not surprising to find the elephant form being made for the Eastern market and a number of automata in the Imperial collections emanate from London that included models of elephants. The iconography of an elephant supporting a vase on its back forms the auspicious rebus, Daping Jingxian or Daping Youxian, representative of the message of Peace and Harmony. A Chinese Imperial clock mounted with a soapstone elephant and made in the Guangzhou workshops of the late 18th century and undeniably inspired by the pieces emanating from London was sold as part of the Magnificent Clocks for the Chinese Imperial Court from the Nezu Museum, Christie's Hong Kong, 27 May 2008, lot 1503. THE SING-SONG TRADE Fuelled by the massive demand in the West for exotic Asian wares such as textiles, porcelains, lacquer and of course tea, the West increasingly focused their attention from the mid-eighteenth century on objects that could be exported to help balance an increasing trade gap between East and West. As such there developed a trade in novelty items, simply referred to as sing-songs derived from the Chinese words that mean 'bells that ring by themselves'. As Roger Smith notes in his aforementioned article, these novelty clocks, watches and 'toys' were being exported, largely through the British East India Company into the trade port of Canton, modern day Guangzhou, mainly through the Hong merchants although much trade was undertaken privately. In addition to being promoted by the East India Company, these items played a prominent role in lessening the trade deficit and such pieces have long acted as articles of tribute in Chinese society where gifts flowed through the official hierarchy. As such from the early eighteenth century large numbers of these wares were purchased from the European ships docking in Canton and passed through the system to the superiors and eventually to the Emperor. Indeed the Emperor Qianlong, whose collection of such pieces was and indeed still remains especially impressive, was said to have amassed a collection by the end of his reign that was worth in excess of £2,000,000. A large quantity of these pieces remain today in the Palace Museum, Beijing, three examples of which, all by English makers and incorporating the elephant form, are reproduced here (figs. 1, 2 & 3) and see Singsong; Treasures from The Forbidden City, Museum Speelklok, Utrecht, 2010, nos. 8 & 11. Simon Harcourt-Smith op.cit remarks that during the reign of Emperor Qianlong 'clocks and mechanical toys of beauty and ingenuity never before seen flowed into China from the West at the rate of thousands a year. In the Imperial Palaces at Peking, Yuan Ming Yuan and Jehol the passages of the hours was marked by a fluttering of enameled wings, a gushing of glass fountains and a spinning of paste stars, while from a thousand concealed and whirring orchestras, the gavottes and minuets of London rose strangely into the Chinese air'. Indeed the Emperor's Palaces were to have been full of all kinds of riches. In 1793, King George III dispatched his envoy, Lord (George) Macartney to Peking to try to persuade the Emperor to allow Britain to open northern trading ports. Macartney arrived with some of the most precious items England could produce, 600 packages of magnificent presents that required 90 wagons, 40 barrows, 200 horses, and 3,000 porters to carry them to the Palace. This extravagant gesture included clocks by Vulliamy mounted in Derby porcelain vases which must have appeared rather ordinary in comparison to the riches already acquired by the Emperor. Following a tour of the Palace and its many pavilions Lord Macartney later wrote that each was "furnished in the richest manner . . . that our presents must shrink from the comparison and hide their diminished heads,"  (Frederick Wakeman, Jr., The Fall of Imperial China (Free Press, 1977), 101). The mission was a failure. Most renowned amongst the London 'sing-song' makers was James Cox (c.1723-1800) goldsmith and jeweller who produced an extraordinary number of pieces between 1766 and 1772, during which time he exported nearly £750,000 worth of goods though he continued manufacture beyond these dates for his renowned Spring Gardens Museum (1772-75). Cox was not solely responsible for creating these objects and claimed in 1773 'for about Seven Years past...[he had]...employed from Eight hundred to One thousand workman' (see Roger Smith, 'James Cox: A Revised Biography', Burlington Magazine, June 2000, p. 355). Indeed Cox was particularly keen on Elephant automata such as the current lot, designed to 'perform the various motions of life, as if in actual existence'. The naturalistic movements of the trunk, eyes, ears and tail as seen in the Torckler elephant were represented in a clock exhibited in his museum and modelled from an Indian elephant presented to Queen Charlotte. A clock in the Beijing Palace Museum by James Cox in the form of an elephant with a very similar articulated trunk and naturalistically chased body is reproduced here, fig. 2. Cox, whilst most renowned, was not the only entrepreneurial craftsman taking advantage of the market for sing-songs. He had numerous competitors and successors who have supplied similar automata and whose work can be seen in the Beijing Palace, Waddesdon, Pavlovsk and other collections around the world. PETER TORCKLER Peter Torckler is a little documented figure of eighteenth century London. He appears to most probably have been an émigré craftsman who established a business in London, most presumably to take advantage of the London based export trade to the East which was unrivalled in other parts of Europe. He would have undoubtedly employed the skilled talent available in London of specialists in the production of the myriad of components required to produce such elaborate automata and who would also have supplied the other producers of such items. Torckler is listed in the London trade directories for 1780-83 as working from 9, Red Lion Street, Clerkenwell, right in the centre of the clock and watch-making district and just three doors from the renowned maker James Upjohn who supplied the elephant chariot clock in the Beijing Palace Museum and reproduced here in fig.1. Another of Torckler's automaton clocks, though not of animalistic in form, but incorporating twisted glass rods to simulate waterfall is retained in The State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg indicating that the current clock was not a sole foray into this market (see. R. Smith, 'The Sing-Song Trade', op.cit., figs 12a-b). It is thought that the maker of this clock is the same Peter Adolph Torckler who was born in Riga and who arrived with an Edward Torckler (presumably his brother) in Calcutta in 1795. Of particular interest given the nature of this clock and the probable original intention of it being exported from London to the East is that Torckler is recorded as having established himself as a partner in the mercantile firm of Howell and Torckler in Calcutta dealing in goods imported from China perhaps indicating that he had already established some trading links in the Far East. Torckler died in Calcutta in 1824 aged seventy-six and as such could well have been working in London in the 1780s. That Torckler was working in London during the latter years of the eighteenth century can be further supported by a faint inscription to the reverse of the enamelled dial which reads 'Weston'. This mark is almost certainly for William Weston whose workshop was based in Greenhill's Rents, West Smithfield from 1764. THE PROVENANCE Whether this clock ever made it to the East for sale we cannot be sure, as previously mentioned many pieces sent for sale returned especially with the gradual waning of the market in the latter part of the eighteenth and early 19th century though records indicate that there was still a considerable trade of between one and two hundred thousand pounds per year until 1815. Unfortunately many of the remarkable clocks and 'sing-songs' in the Imperial collections have been lost through neglect or in particular the periods of unrest, most notably the looting of the Summer Palace, Yuan Ming Yuan, in 1860 and the Boxer Rebellion of 1900 which resulted in a number of these objects being removed and returned to the West whilst some were also traded in the early 20th century. It is therefore feasible that this clock was in  China and may have returned to London in the second half of the Nineteenth century. That the clock was in London in the 19th century is confirmed by the evidence of a replacement wheel to the fusee movement contained within the body of the elephant which is signed by Thomas Harris & Son, a firm of instrument makers founded in London in 1780 whose business continued to the very end of the 19th century. The clock was therefore definitely in London at some point post 1806 when the company changed its name from Thomas Harris to Thomas Harris & Son. From a piece of cardboard that was inscribed and fitted into the inside of the clock in the 2002 sale and now included with this lot, we can be specific of its whereabouts in the early 20th century. The piece of cardboard is inscribed; "In January 1901, I repaired the clock and the elephant and again did so in 1905.  This was repeated on 28th Mordad (June) 1919, and once again in January 1923. Aside from these above-mentioned instances, the clock and its elephant statue were several times repaired by me. Khwāja Mustafā, clockmaker" [Khwāja possibly implies someone who was originally a slave at one of the Qajar courts and whose function it was to repair clocks]. The second 'column' reads: "(Khwāja Mustafā, clockmaker) repairs of the clock were executed by me at the imperial court. Khwāja Mustafā, clockmaker at the Imperial Court [signature]." These lines appear to have been 'transcribed' from an older text which is seen as a faded background on the present copy. They do not appear to be the original, which is written in a cruder hand. It seems most probable that the clock was acquired by Naser al-Din Shah (1831-1896) who reigned from 1848 and who embraced Western art and society more so than his predecessors. Most interestingly on a visit to England in 1889 he was entertained by Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild at his recently completed Waddesdon Manor, the remarkable French styled chateau in Buckinghamshire. The Bucks Herald duly reported the Shah's visit on 13th July that year; "What struck the Shah's fancy most among the costly treasures of the Rothschild collection was a mechanical clock studded with imitation jewels, which is a veritable curiosity, and looks as if it were of Eastern manufacture adjusted to clockwork mechanism by some ingenious European artist...this magnificent toy fairly delighted His Majesty the Shah. It was wound and re-wound again and again, and it was evidently preferred to all the paintings, enamels, armour and palissy ware in the whole of the Rothschild family. Eventually it became necessary to distract his Majesty's attention from a curiosity of considerable historical interest." (Taken from Geoffrey de Bellaigue, The James A. de Rothschild Collection at Waddesdon Manor, 1974, vol. I, p. 145). The Shah indeed had an intense fascination with such novelty items. On a State Visit to Britain in 1873 he purchased at the Crystal palace a 'mechanical singing bird' which is known as it led to a legal dispute subsequently reported in The Times newspaper on 2nd September 1873. It would seem most likely that following his Majesty's visit and his obvious fascination with the Waddesdon clock (reproduced here as fig.4) that the Shah commissioned an agent to source a similar clock for his own collection and amusement and that the current clock was subsequently acquired.

  • GBRGrande Bretagne
  • 2012-07-04
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Six panels representing scenes from Book VIII of the Aeneid

A: The signal for war given by Turnus from the citadel of Laurentum;B: The sacrificial feast of Evander before the walls of Pallantium interrupted by the arrival of Aeneas and his fleet; Pallas, son of Evander, challenging Aeneas, who answers from his vessel;C: Pallas conducts Aeneas from the ship to his father;D: Evander relating to Aeneas how fauns and wild men once dwelt in the land;E: Venus making a sign with thunder and the flashing of arms and armour in the heavens to Evander and Pallas with Aeneas and Achates;F: Evander bidding farewell to Pallas who rides forth with Aeneas and Achates to meet Tarcho and the Etruscans appearing from a grove in the background Few cycles of Limoges enamels have been as often cited as the extraordinary series of plaques representing Virgil's Aeneid of which the present six are amongst the largest groups remaining in private hands. Made circa 1530, it is the earliest instance in which the technique of painting enamel on copper was used to depict secular scenes. According to the latest count by Baratte (2001, op.cit.), eighty-two plaques from the series survive, making it easily the most numerous suite of Limoges enamels and the only example where a complete set of book illustrations was appropriated. In addition to the six from the collections of the Dukes of Northumberland, the most significant concentrations of enamels from the series in public collections are in the Metropolitan Museum of Art (15), the Musée du Louvre (11), and the Walters Art Gallery (7). Many of these passed through the hands of the foremost private collectors of the past 150 years, including Hollingworth Magniac, Frederic Spitzer, Henry Walters, and the Kofler-Trunigers. Their pre-19th-century history and context, however, have been the subject of much speculation. The Alnwick enamels Each of the Aeneid enamels is based on illustrations designed by Sebastian Brandt for an influential compilation of Virgil's texts with commentaries published by Johann Grüninger in Strasbourg in 1502 (Figure 1). While these woodcuts are distinctly Gothic, the enamels were painted in the courtly Renaissance style current in France at the time. The figures are idealised and rounded, and imbued with a healthy rose complexion consisting of white over purple enamel. Here and there the white enamel was applied thickly to enliven the surface and lend volume to hands, faces, horses, and the tops of waves, a process known as enlevage. The magnificent greyish-blue seas, covered in wavy black ripples are specific to the series. The translucent ochre and green hues of the landscape and purple hues of castles and clothes, lightened by the ingenious use of foil and the colour of the copper underneath, are equally characteristic. The lush gilding with which the scenes are detailed and heightened was applied after the enamelling was fired and is beautifully preserved in the Alnwick group. Virgil's Aeneid is at the heart of European literature, and among the most influential epics ever written. Aside from the unprecedented artistry of the verse, much copied themes include the concept of a utopian end of times and the suicide of a sufferer of unrequited love. The Aeneid tells the story of the Trojan prince Aeneas leading a small band of survivors to Italy after the destruction of Troy. Virgil recounts the Trojan Wars, and includes the fullest account of the story of the Trojan Horse, but most importantly he describes how Aeneas and his people settle and ally with the Italians afterwards, becoming the founding fathers of Rome and the Roman Empire. The Alnwick enamels illustrate Book VIII of the epic. The previous book describes how the Italians of Latium declare war on the Trojans after a failed engagement and a hunting accident. Book VIII starts outside the Latins' citadel Laurentium, where Turnus, a local prince, rallies his allies (plaque A). Aeneas, meanwhile, is asleep on the banks of the Tiber when the river god Tiberinus appears in his dreams. He tells the prince to sail upriver and make an alliance with the Arcadian king Evander. (Victoria and Albert Museum, inv. no. 1604-1855) When Aeneas makes port at Arcadia's stronghold Pallantium, the king and his son Pallas are making a rich offering to their patron Hercules. Pallas challenges the foreigners but Aeneas' clarifies his intentions (B). Pallas leads the Trojans to King Evander (C) who, after relating his lands' mythical history, makes a pact with Aeneas, agrees to lend his troops, and advises Aeneas to enlist the archenemies of the Latins, the Etruscans (D). Venus sees the prospect of wars and commissions special arms and armour from Vulcan (Musée du Louvre, inv. no. OA 7559). During the festivities in honour of Aeneas' visit Venus announces Vulcan has finished a godly armour for Aeneas to wear into battle decorated with scenes from the glorious future of Rome (E; an enamel with the scenes from the future of Rome was with Alain Moatti in 1998 according to Baratte, 2001, op.cit.). Spurred on by the goddess' signal, Aeneas, his faithful right hand Achates, and Pallas, ride out to meet the Etruscans and their leader, Tarcho (F). The story culminates in a succession of skirmishes between The Trojans and Turnus' troops that span the last three books of The Aeneid. The epic ends with the fall of Turnus at the hands of prince Aeneas. The Aeneid in the Renaissance The first illustrated versions of The Aeneid appear in late Antiquity. These early manuscripts, such as the Vergilius Vaticanus from circa 400 CE (MS Vat. lat. 3225), tend to include images that show a fairly literal interpretation of the story. (Wlosok, op.cit., p. 379) From the 12th century onwards, however, it becomes customary for specific aspects and themes to be highlighted by the illustrations through the selection, combination, and presentation of individual scenes. This coincides with the appearance of commentaries on Virgil, most importantly by the philosopher Bernard Silvestris, which interpret the text allegorically. Their general reading was that Aeneas' trials and tribulations are synonymous with the contemplation of virtues and values necessary for man to obtain knowledge. (Usher, op.cit., p. 173) Firstly, this provided an opportunity for the effective extraction of Christian values from The Aeneid. This is reflected in the illustrations, for example, by the exchange of mythological monsters with those that haunt biblical stories or by arranging the images so that visions of Heaven and Hell are mirrored. (Wlosok, op.cit., p. 371) But more importantly, and pertinent to the Alnwick enamels, the new interpretations of Virgil paved the way for cycles of illustrations of The Aeneid in architectural settings. In Book VI, Aeneas and his men arrive in Italy and encounter Apollo's temple, richly decorated with scenes from Trojan history described earlier in the epic. The seafarers contemplate the images before being interrupted by the Sybil who guides Aeneas to his future destiny. As Usher points out, the doubling of the interpretative act - a reader seeing Aeneas and his companions reading these scenes- is placed further in the foreground in commentaries in the first half of the 16th century than any of the versions of Virgil before 1500. (op. cit., pp. 167-168) In the original woodcut published by Grüninger and even more so in the corresponding enamel, formerly in the Keir collection and sold at Sotheby’s New York in 1997 (figure 2), Aeneas seems to be musing about a specific scene from Troy's past. When reviewing the series of enamels in general it becomes clear that there is more attention given to the acts of speaking and discussion even compared to the woodcuts in the Grüninger editions. Whereas in the woodcut none of the sages at the altar table outside the walls of Pallantium gesture as Evander guides Pallas to the citadel, there is more emphasis on the interaction between the figures in enamel C. It seems therefore that the Aeneid enamels were not solely intended as fanciful decoration illustrating moments from a popular tale; the contemporary commentaries which instruct one to join Aeneas on his journey to attain higher knowledge through the contemplation of virtues and values are also reflected in the images. If one assumes that the enamels were presented without text, this invitation to think, rather than just read, becomes even more powerful. Apollo's Temple as illustrated in the Keir enamel is then likely to be an example, of how the Aeneid series were presented, something suggested by Verdier based on the appearance of this plaque alone (op.cit., p. 76), and according to Usher how the series should be experienced. (op.cit., p. 172) The incorporation of Virgilian themes into the decorative arts became current in Quattrocento Italy and gained momentum in the 16th century. Fresco cycles include Dosso Dossi's murals for the studio of Alfonso d'Este in Ferrara, Giulio Romano's decoration of the Sala di Troia of the ducal palace in Mantua, and Niccolo dell'Abate's large cycle at the castle at Scandiano (see Fagiolo, op.cit. and Langmuir, op.cit.) In France, similar, Homeric illustrations are found at Fontainebleau: scenes from the Iliad adorn the king's chamber and the Odyssey is the theme in the Gallery of Ulysses. The existence of such spaces supports Marquet de Vasselot's widely adopted suggestion that the Aeneid series was set in the wall panelling of a cabinet des emaux, like that recorded in the 1589 inventory of Catherine de' Medici’s effects at the Hôtel de la Reine in Paris. This small room included "thirty-nine small enamel paintings from Limoges, oval in shape, set within the wainscoting of the said cabinet", and "thirty-two portraits some one-foot high of diverse princes, lords and ladies, similarly mounted in the said wainscoting". (Bonnaffé, op.cit., pp. 155-156) Equally, however, the plaques could have been part of one or more cassone. Apollonio di Giovanni (1414-1467) executed panels with scenes from the Aeneid for a marriage chest and was later praised by Ugolino Verino for "[painting] burning Troy better for us". (Usher, op.cit., pp. 171-172). It should not be overlooked that several of the Aeneid enamels are recorded as being set into "a large chasse or coffer, constructed of Limoges enamel plaques in a frame work of gilt metal, 26" long, 9 1/4" wide, 20" high" in the Magniac sale of 1892 (lot 528) and that a record of the entire Aeneid series in one place is conspicuously absent. The study of the Aeneid enamels Earlier publications of the Aeneid series chiefly revolve around problems of dating and attribution. The group was first studied on the occasion of the Paris Exposition Universelle of 1867 where twelve plaques were shown. During the exhibition the playwright and bibliophile Victorien Sardou noticed that the plaques were nigh identical to woodcuts in his copy of a 1529 edition of Opera Virgiliana cum decem commentariis... . A year later, Alfred Darcel, the curator of the enamels in the exhibition, pointed out that Sardou's book is based on a 1502 publication by the printer Johann Grüninger from Strasbourg entitled Publii Virgilii Maronis opera cum quinque vulgatis commentariis... (see Caroselli, 1993, op.cit., p. 77). It is mentioned in the book that the woodcuts were supplied by the prominent humanist and poet Sebastian Brandt (1457-1521), also known for Das Narrenschyff, and that he intended the "bucolic pictures and drawings for uneducated and rustic men" according to the dedication. The tome contains the collected works of Vergil with no less than 215 illustrations, 143 of which are dedicated to The Aeneid. In 1912 J.J. Marquet de Vasselot pointed out that the blocks Grüninger used for the reproduction of the woodcuts deteriorated as they were employed for the further editions printed in Germany, France and Italy. (quoted in Rackham, op. cit., p. 244) Most books printed after the original 1502 publications therefore have significant lacunae in details such as the banderols of text that identify the characters in each scene. ANCHISES, for example, reads A.C....S in a 1517 edition published in Lyons. The fact that all names are correctly transcribed and the intricately detailed compositions have been successfully rendered in the Aeneid enamels has led Marquet de Vasselot and most scholars after him to the conclusion that the anonymous enameler used the earliest edition. The banderols on the Alnwick enamels, however, have several inconsistencies. In scene B the citadel is named PALANTEUM on the woodcut whilst the enamel says PALANTINA. On plaque C Evander is inexplicably identified as SVANDER whilst it is correct on the woodcut. Also, a 'D' is added to the name of Pallas in place of another symbol or motif on the woodcut. On plaque D Pallantium is not identified at all whilst the woodcut does include a banderol. The attribution of the Aeneid enamels too was hotly debated by early scholars. Darcel's 1867 Exposition Universelle catalogue mentions Couly Nouailher II and in an article a year later he defends an attribution to Couly Nouailher I. Terrassant was thought to be the maker of the plaques by the cataloguer of the Hamelin sale of 1867, Jean Penicaud II is said to be the author of the series in an 1874 exhibition catalogue in aid of the Alsace and Lorraine and in 1892 Charles Robinson thinks of a young Pierre Reymond in the catalogue of the Magniac sale. (Baratte, 2000, op.cit., p. 56) Wilhelm von Bode's attribution to the school of Jean Penicaud I in the catalogue of the Hainauer sale of 1897 is probably most understandable given the eldest Penicaud's colour schemes, use of gilding as heightening, and inherently Gothic birds-eye view over the compositions. In 1912, however, it was again Marquet de Vasselot who provided the reigning solution: the series is the work of an independent unidentified master active in Limoges he named Le Maître de L'Énéide. Despite the use of images from a book published in 1502, scholars agree that the Master of the Aeneid was active circa 1530. This is chiefly due to the use of a translucent fondant, which is the enamel that covers the copper on the front and reverse in order to stabilise the object. Translucent fondants are thought to be an innovation that only gained traction after 1520. (Baratte, 2000, op.cit., p. 56) The series also lacks the linearity of German woodcuts made around 1500, having more soft forms according to Renaissance ideals. Lastly, in his cataloguing of the group in the Walters Art Gallery, Verdier points out that the archaic uncials used in the inscriptions on the woodcuts are substituted for a more modern type on the enamels (op.cit., p. 76). After 1530 compositions of Limoges enamels were almost exclusively based on Italian prints. It is likely that the illustration of The Aeneid in enamel was a project that occupied the master for a substantial part of his career. This is reflected in a change of technique: the first fifteen plaques in the chronology have a sky rendered with help of foil with different shades of blue on top whilst afterwards the foil is no longer used and the horizon is painted with help of a white line. (Baratte, 2000, op.cit., p. 56) Also telling is the absence of any enamels representing the scenes from books ten to twelve of The Aeneid, suggesting that either the enameller or the patron lost interest when the commission was in its final stages. Perhaps this explains why only a few further attributions of other enamels could be made by Verdier and Pinkham (op.cit., p. 76 and op.cit., pp. 370-375). Of those only the Agony in the Garden (inv. no. 2389-1910) and the Crucifixion (inv. no. 2820-1856) in the Victoria and Albert Museum are widely accepted as being by the same hand (see Caroselli, op.cit., p. 73). RELATED LITERATURE E. Bonnaffé, Inventaire des meubles de Catherine de Médices en 1589: Mobilier, tableaux, objets d'art, manuscrits, Paris, 1874; P. Verdier, Catalogue of the painted enamels of the Renaissance, cat. The Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore, 1967, pp. 75-89; R. Pinkham, “Attributions to the Aeneid Master”, Apollo 95, May 1972, pp. 370-375; E. Langmuir, “Arma Virumque… Nicolò dell’Abate’s Aeneid Gabinetto for Scandiano”, Journal of the Warburg and Courtald Institutes, 1976, pp.151-170; M. Fagiolo, “Virgilio nell’arte e nella cultura europea”, Roma-Biblioteca nazionale centrale, Rome, 1981, pp. 119–193; S. L. Caroselli, The painted enamels of Limoges. A catalogue of the collection of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, 1993, pp. 73-79; A. Wlosok, “Illustrated Vergil manuscripts: Reception and exegesis”, The Classical Journal 93, no.4, 1998, pp. 355-382; S. Baratte, Les émaux peints de Limoges, cat. Musée du Louvre, Paris, 2000, pp. 56-62; S. Baratte, “La série de plaques du Maître de L’Énéide”, A. Erlande-Brandenburg, J-M. Leniaud and X. Dectot (eds.), Études d'histoire de l'art offertes à Jacques Thirion. Des premiers temps chrétiens au XXe siècle, Paris, 2001, pp. 133-148; P. J. Usher, “The Aeneid in the 1530’s: Reading with the Limoges enamels”, P. J. Usher and I. Fernbach (eds.), Virgilian identities in the French Renaissance, Martlesham, 2012, pp. 161-188

  • GBRGrande Bretagne
  • 2014-07-09
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A george ii gilt-brass mounted and marble topped carved mahogany serpentine

With an inset white marble slab, the top with a gadrooned moulding to three sides above a frieze drawer with a Greek key border and rosettes above three further drawers with finely chased gilt-brass gryphon and flame loop handles between corners headed by lion masks above tapered reserves of graduated overlapping discs ending in hairy paw feet, the underside with large castors When considering this exceptional piece of mahogany case furniture it is necessary to examine the context from which it comes.  Helen, 8th Duchess of Northumberland (1886-1965) in her own catalogue, Alnwick: Furniture in the Collection of the Duke and Duchess of Northumberland, which she had privately published in 1930, writes that the commode, recorded as item no. 27, came from the Smithson seat, Stanwick Park in Yorkshire (fig. 1).  This is further supported by a letter (Alnwick DP/DII/216), which almost certainly refers to the offered lot, this is from Lady Elizabeth Smithson, later the 1st Duchess of Northumberland (1716-1776) to her mother, The Countess of Hertford (1699-1754) and is dated 8 August, 1740, (fig. 2.) she writes: '...between the Window [in Sir Hugh Smithson's dressing room at Stanwick] stands cover'd with marble a French set of Drawers of mahogany much ornamented with brass gilt...' The 'French' reference is interesting as it may well relate to the serpentine outline of the piece, and Lady Elizabeth would probably have been familiar with bombé and other shaped commodes from the Continent. She was very aware of the furnishings of others, through her visits to other great houses and the lively descriptions of other people’s possessions in her diaries are a testament to this. Although there is no unabridged published set of these diaries, see a collection of extracts which were edited by James Grieg, The Diaries of a Duchess, London, 1926. Stanwick was the Smithson seat of Sir Hugh before his marriage to Elizabeth, the Percy heiress, and his elevation to Dukedom in 1766. From 1739-40, he was to embark on the extraordinary transformation of Stanwick, from a Jacobean pile to a Palladian mansion. This pattern of grandiose refurbishment working with the greatest architects and designers of the day was to emerge with his other great houses in the 18th century. The influence of Richard Boyle, 3rd Earl of Burlington and 4thEarl of Cork (1694–1753) and his circle, most notably William Kent (1685 - d.1745), is keenly felt when elements of the design of the house at Stanwick are examined. Features relate closely to the other commissions of this extraordinary group of visionaries, most notably Chiswick House, the great Palladian collaboration between Burlington and Kent which was completed in 1729. Stanwick was perhaps a collaboration again between architect-patron and designer; feasibly Smithson and Daniel Garrett (d.1753). In 1737 Garrett, Burlington’s chief clerk was to visit Yorkshire and design a decorative column surmounted with a statue of the Apollo Belvedere for Sir Hugh for the Park at Stanwick. A defined point when one of Burlington’s circle was to become involved with Smithson. The commode also compares well with other important mahogany furniture from Stanwick in the Northumberland Collection which feature similar Kentian detailing and which date from the same period. These include a set of chairs now in the Entrance Hall at Alnwick Castle and cited by Helen, 8th Duchess of Northumberland as coming from Stanwick in her 1930 inventory (op. cit. item no.19). Furthermore Ralph Edwards and Percy Macquoid illustrate in, The Dictionary of English Furniture, London, 1927, vol. I., p. 270, fig. 137 a chair most probably from Stanwick. In addition there is a pair of serving tables, again with strong classical motifs, from Stanwick (one of which is featured in a drawing of the Dining Room reproduced here (fig. 4) and is illustrated by Lucy Wood, The Upholstered Furniture In The Lady Lever Art Gallery, Liverpool, 2008, vol. I., p. 361, fig. 233. Existing photos show that Stanwick (which was demolished in 1923) was designed along strict Palladian lines. It featured a number of classic Burlington and Kent inspired hallmarks, the use of open triangular pediments on the roof of the west side, principal rooms on the first floor or piano nobile and a grand saloon in the middle of the south front rising through two storeys. The dining room provides further evidence of a strong link with the unusual use of heavy console brackets to a high ceiling (fig. 4), the same bold devices used in the Blue Velvet Room at Chiswick House. A chimneypiece that features in an extant photograph of the interior (reproduced on page 50 of this catalogue), relates to those at Chiswick, Holkam and an example from Devonshire House, all important Kentian commissions. Carved panelling from Stanwick survives. There is a carved pine overdoor (almost certainly originally painted) now at the Nassau County Museum of Art (formerly the Childs Frick House) in Long Island, USA. It features a tied swag of tightly strung foliage. This was a device employed by Kent in marble chimneypieces at both Chiswick, Kensington Palace and at Devonshire House. A fascinating architectural drawing by Burlington, for the elevation of the front of Richmond House – the lost London residence of the Dukes of Richmond – bears a striking resemblance to Stanwick Park and re-enforces the link between Garrett and Sir Hugh Smithson (see Rosemary Baird, ‘Richmond House in London, Its history: Part I’, in The British Art Journal, Vol. III, No. 2, Autumn 2007, p. 6). The house epitomised the elegant Palladian aesthetic of Kent. It was built between 1733-36 for the 2nd Duke of Richmond and was designed by Burlington. Garret  was put in charge of the project, in what would have been an important formative experience. Indeed, Sir Thomas Robinson, an acquaintance of the Duke of Richmond, noted that Garrett ‘had care and conduct of the Duke of Richmond’s House’ in 1736, no doubt enhancing his reputation amongst Burlington’s circle (Sir Howard Colvin, A Biographical Dictionary of British Architects 1660-1840, 3rd Edition, New Haven and London, 1995, p.393). Interestingly, a comparable pair of commodes, the carving of which is attributed to John Boson, IS believed to have formed part of the contents at Richmond House, along with other important pieces of Kentian furniture now in the Duke of Richmond’s collection at Goodwood House (see Rosemary Baird, ‘Richmond House in London, Its history: Part II, Contents and later developments’, in The British Art Journal, Vol. III, No. 3, Winter 2007-2008, p. 6). William Kent was linked to some of the very best cabinet-makers but two, with regards to the offered lot, are particularly relevant, John Boson (ca.1696-1743) and Benjamin Goodison (ca. 1700-1767). There is also an extraordinary pair of commodes or ‘tables’ fitted with drawers and kneeholes which relate to the Stanwick commode in the collection of The Duke of Devonshire at Chatsworth, see Susan Weber (ed.), William Kent, New York, 2014, p. 507, fig.18.13. These were produced for Chiswick House and are linked to Boson through the rare survival of a bill from him at Chatsworth, dated September 11, 1735 addressed to Lady Burlington, he writes; ‘Carving done for ye Honble Lady Burlington' as To two mahogany tables with folidge & other ornament modles for ye brass work etc. £20=0=0’. In a letter dated 17th April 1735 to her husband, Lady Burlington writes ‘I hope signor has remembered about my tables and glasses’. Signor was the nickname Lord Burlington’s circle gave to William Kent (see Geoffrey Beard, Some Thoughts on Benjamin Goodison, Partridge Fine Arts Catalogue, London, 1988, p. 19). This could well link Kent with these Chiswick 'tables' and a pair of pier glasses ensuite. The similarity in design between the 'tables' and the present commode is very strong. Both have finely executed borders of architectural detail, borders of egg and dart, feature carved acanthus, have finely designed carved corners surmounted by animal masks, are of an unusual shape and feature lavishly worked gilt-brass pierced handles. Tellingly they also feature in an evocative drawing by William Kent of Lady Burlington in the Garden Room at Chiswick from around 1740 a further compelling reason to associate Kent with their design. Also see a large mahogany and parcel-gilt sideboard in the Royal Collection (RCIN250), very much in the style of William Kent, which again shares many of the characteristics outlined above and with its three arched recesses is very like Lady Burlington's commission for Chiswick However perhaps the most likely hand that can be associated with the Stanwick commode is Royal cabinet-maker and student of James Moore, Benjamin Goodison. There is a pair of commodes in the Royal Collection (RCIN. 4649), attributed to Goodison, which out of all the comparative case furniture from that period and other ‘Kentian’ pieces relate most closely to the Stanwick commode, one of the pair illustrated, Desmond Shawe-Taylor (ed.), The First Georgians, Art and Monarchy, London, 2014, cat. no. 117. This pair was commissioned by Sir Thomas Robinson of Rokeby (1702-1777) for his Yorkshire seat. The similarities, most notably a Greek Key frieze punctuated by foliate rosettes, tapered corner pilasters headed by lion masks bearing rings and scrolled angle brackets, are very strong. The Rokeby commodes and a library table (now two pier tables, also in the Royal Collection, RCIN. 251) have been attributed to Goodison on the basis of shared characteristics found on a library table at Boughton House, Northamptonshire. This was supplied by Goodison to John, 2nd Duke of Montagu around 1737-1741, see Oliver Brackett, Thomas Chippendale, A Study of his Life, Work and Influence, London, 1924, p.151, Pl. IX. Surviving invoices suggest Goodison to be the principal supplier of furniture to the Duke (Geoffrey Beard, Two Eighteenth-Century English Furniture Puzzles Reassessed, in Studies in the Decorative Arts, Fall 1993, pp. 119-121). Rokeby Park is located not far from Stanwick and the two aristocrats are likely to have known each other. Like Chiswick House, Rokeby was also designed in part by its owner and is also linked with the circle of Lord Burlington and Kent. It was Sir Thomas and the Earl of Carlisle who, along with Sir Hugh, were to invite Daniel Garrett (Kent and Burlington's protégé) on his tour to the north of England in 1737. Robinson was an artistic man with a passion for architecture and sculpture. He was very conscious of the work of leading architects and designers and most probably the cabinet-makers they employed. He was familiar with the work of William Kent, having visited Houghton. He wrote to his stepfather, the Earl of Carlisle about the house on the 9 December 1731, ‘the finishing of the inside is… a pattern for all great houses that may hereafter be built: the vast quantity of mahogany, all the doors, window-shutters, best staircase & C. being built entirely of that wood: the finest chimnies of statuary and other marbles; the ceilings in the modern taste by Italians…, the furniture of the richest tapestry, &c…’ (James Yorke, The Very Valuable Household Furniture and Other Effects, of Sir Thomas Robinson Bart. Dec., Furniture History, 1994, Vol. XXX, p. 154.) This Stanwick commode is of superb quality and represents the very best in the history of design and the talents of cabinet-makers in the extraordinary period from which it comes. It is also important in the history of English furniture, a point that should not be underestimated. The reference to it in 1740 by Lady Elizabeth, later 1st Duchess of Northumberland, one of the greatest collector-patrons of the 18th century, is fascinating and an indication of the successes and wealth of not only its owners but an entire nation. Excitingly though it is the evocative reference from 1740 which adds to its importance, one of the very earliest known references to a mahogany chest of drawers in the world.

  • GBRGrande Bretagne
  • 2014-07-09
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King Charles Spaniel

This beautiful picture, which only came to light in 1973, is one of Stubbs’s most touching portraits of dogs. Full of charm, it eschews the sentimentality that characterises many such paintings by later artists. Though the circumstances of the commission are unknown it is possibly the picture exhibited by Stubbs at the Royal Academy in 1776 as Portrait of a Dog, however no contemporary notices of that picture have so far been traced. Of all Stubbs’s portraits of man’s best friend it has a special resonance and a dramatic immediacy afforded by the contrast of brilliant light on the dog’s silky coat, set against a rich, dark background, which silhouettes the animal and emphasises the feathery texture of its fur. Such is the images appeal that it was selected as the basis for one of a set of five speciality postage stamps issued by the Royal Mail on 8 January 1991 with the title ‘Dogs. Paintings by George Stubbs’ (see fig. 2). The composition, and particularly the dramatic use of a flat, lustrous black background demonstrates the artist’s preoccupation with enamel painting in the mid-1770s, and shows to wonderful effect the benefits afforded by his collaboration with Josiah Wedgwood. Dominating the picture plain and strongly lit, the dog stands broadside, his head turned towards the viewer, the russety colouring in his coat reflected in the autumnal foliage behind. The composition is almost frieze like, the effect of which is to accentuate the solidity and three-dimensionality of the dog itself, projecting him out of the picture towards the viewer. Close comparison can be drawn, both in the frieze like arrangement and the contrast between a flat, dark background and a strongly lit foreground subject, with Stubbs’s small enamel on copper of a Lion attacking a Horse (Tate Gallery), painted in 1769, a second version of which he painted circa 1768-9 (Yale Centre for British Art, New Haven), and in another enamel on copper of a Lion and Lioness painted in 1770 (Yale Centre for British Art, New Haven).  However it is a format that he adopts in very few of his portraits of dogs, the majority of which are set in natural landscapes and have none of the emotional of physical power of this pictures. Rather it is usually a style he adopts for his depictions of exotic animals, and can be seen to similarly positive effect in, among others, his Portrait of a Monkey from 1774 (Private Collection),and Lion attacking a Stag, painted circa 1765 for the Marquess of Rockingham (Yale Centre for British Art, New Haven), of which there is even an enamel version,  as well as in A den of Lions (Goodwood House) and Tygers at Play, Version III (Private Collection), both of which were painted in the same year as this spaniel. The small number of examples where he does adopt something of this technique include his portrait of a Water Spaniel of 1769 (Yale Centre for British Art, New Haven), and his Portrait of a Spaniel painted in 1772 (British Sporting Art Trust, Newmarket). The use of this arrangement here, particularly to such strong effect, may suggest that this picture is not in fact a commissioned portrait in the true sense of the word. Like many of his arrangements of exotic animals previously mentioned it is possible that it was a picture which Stubbs worked on for its own compositional and pictorial merit, with the intention of exhibiting it at the Royal Academy, an idea that lends weight to the possibility that it was indeed the painting he showed in 1776. The King Charles spaniel, or toy spaniel as it was often called, was a popular breed among the nobility and gentry in eighteenth century Britain. The history of the breed in England, however, dates back to the reign of Mary I (1516-1558), who was depicted with her husband, King Philip of Spain, and a toy spaniel by Hans Eworth in 1558 (Woburn Abbey), and Mary, Queen of Scots (1542-1587) was also fond of the dogs. By the seventeenth century their popularity had spread and Charles I is recorded as having kept a small spaniel named Rogue during his captivity at Carisbrooke Castle. Nevertheless it is with his son, Charles II, that the breed is most closely associated, of whom it is said that ‘His Majesty was seldom seen without his little dogs’. Samuel Pepys, in his diary, noted how the King’s spaniels were allowed to roam anywhere they wished in Whitehall Palace, even during state occasions, and complained of ‘the King, playing with his dogs all the while and not minding the business’,1 during council meetings. Indeed the breed has had a long association with royalty, and notable owners have included Henry III of France (1551-1589), who owned a number of small spaniels called Damarets, Queen Victoria (1819-1901), who’s first dog Dash was a King Charles spaniel, and the Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna of Russia (1901-1918), youngest daughter of Tsar Nicholas II. The history of spaniels in Russia dates back to the nineteenth century, when the hunting enthusiast Grand Duke Nicholas Nikolaevich (1856-1929) imported a small cocker spaniel called from England, which he showed at the Neva Hunt Club in 1885, and they have been popular there ever since. In the eighteenth century King Charles spaniels experienced a particular vogue as aristocratic ladies’ dogs, featuring frequently both in literature and art. Both George Romney’s Portrait of Lady Hamilton as Nature of 1782 (Frick Collection, New York), and Thomas Gainsborough’s Portrait of Queen Charlotte of 1781 (Royal Collection, Buckingham Palace), for example, depict their mistresses accompanied by similar small liver and white spaniels. Before the formalisation of breed standards in the late nineteenth century however, others were being selected and bred for more active roles, evolving eventually into the more energetic Cocker spaniel. Unlike other King Charles spaniels depicted by Stubbs, with their thick bodies and short muzzles, the active little dog in the present painting, with sharp features and intelligent eyes, his lustrous white and liver coat silhouetted against the darkness of the wood, would surely have been a sporting dog, used for flushing woodcock from thick cover. With the advance of shooting in the eighteenth century, and particularly with the development of the shotgun which enabled the sportsman to shoot game on the wing, the spaniel became increasingly popular in Britain. The varying demands of this new sport also led to increasing specialisation within the breed. While the larger type of spaniel developing into what we would call today the Springer Spaniel, bred to flush game from the newly planted crops and hedges that were being planted with increasing rapidity by mid-century as a result of the Enclosure Act, the smaller toy spaniels were being developed for use as what we would now recognise as the cocker spaniel. The ‘cocker’, a term used in the eighteenth century to refer less to a recognised breed of spaniel, and more to the dog’s speciality at hunting woodcock, was trained to give tongue as soon as it smelt game. To this was often added the noise of bells hung around the dog’s neck, making them extremely effective at flushing game from the thickest of undergrowth. It is indicative of their continuing popularity among his patrons that, of all the breeds of dog Stubbs painted, spaniels appear most frequently in his work. There are no fewer than ten portraits of spaniels, the first recorded of which is dated 1771, whilst the last is dated 1803. A heterogeneous group, together they bear witness to thirty years of sustained affection for these dogs among the English gentry and aristocracy. Of all these portraits none, however, comes close to the compositional excellence, or rich tonal quality of this picture. George Stubbs’s position as the greatest animal painter of the eighteenth century was confirmed in 1766 by his publication of The Anatomy of the Horse, a project he had worked on in Lincolnshire for most of the late 1750s and early 1760s. This revolutionary study cast Stubbs at the forefront of both science and art in his understanding and knowledge of equine anatomy and propelled him into the limelight as the leading authority in the depiction of horses in painting. This quick caught the attention of a close knit group of noblemen and members of the Jockey Club, including Lord Rockingham, Lord Grosvenor, and the Dukes of Grafton and Portland, and Stubbs’s work for the next decade would be dominated by their patronage, and consequently consist mainly of depictions of the horse in its various guises. Racing or the racehorse, as illustrated by the great Gimcrack on Newmarket Heath of circa 1765 (Private Collection) and Racehorses in Training at Goodwood (Goodwood House), hunting, as demonstrated in his two great paintings of The Charlton Hunt, commissioned by the Duke of Richmond (Goodwood House), as well as his group of pictures painted for Lord Rockingham, and The Grosvenor Hunt (Private Collection), commissioned by the 1st Earl Grosvenor, and breeding, best espoused by his series of Mares and Foals which span the period, are the dominant themes and concerns of his work in in the 1760s. By the 1770s however his patrons were becoming increasingly diversified, and consequently, so to was his subject matter. The 4th Duke of Rutland, who appears to have been introduced to Stubbs by Sir Joshua Reynolds, and Lord Petre, neither of whom were great enthusiasts of the Turf, started commissioning work from the artist at about this time, and after a decade in practise the diffusion of his work was beginning to attract a new group of patrons among the landed gentry. The proliferation of Members of Parliament and Lord Lieutenants of the shires among Stubbs’s clientele from the early 1770s onwards is indicative of this shift in patronage, and the effect on his range of subject matter is noticeable. While many, especially those confident of looking at home in the saddle, still commissioned equestrian portraits, these later horse paintings are mostly quite different in tone from his earlier work, with their  preoccupation with high aristocratic pastimes, and rather depict a detached rural tranquillity, reflecting the image of their subjects as dependable country squires.  To the squire, his ability to ride to hounds and uphold traditional values confirmed his ability to uphold the moral and physical health of the nation. As Egerton2 has argued, the order and decorum inherent in Stubbs’s paintings, with their distinctly English scenes, testified to the stability and right to govern of those who hung his pictures on their walls. Many of these squires, however, had other concerns as well and it is with them that we start to see a significant range of domestic animals appearing in Stubbs’s painting, most notable dogs. A fine example of this new emphasis in Stubbs’s work can be seen in the series of seven pictures he painted for John Musters of Colwick Hall, Nottinghamshire, circa 1777. Among this group, as well as the usual equestrian portraits of Musters and his wife Sophia, are two portraits of Mrs Musters spaniels (both Private Collection), both of which are lovingly commissioned portraits of adored family pets. A great beauty, Mrs Musters, like many women of her day, was particularly fond of small brown and white spaniels, and in the portrait of her by Sir Joshua Reynolds at Petworth, she is depicted with one. Though dogs, particularly hounds, had featured in Stubbs’s work since the mid-1760, and his skill for rendering the distinctive features of individual hounds in paint had been demonstrated in his paintings of The Charlton Hunt and The Grosvenor Hunt, as well as in his painting of Five of Lord Rockingham’s hounds in a landscape (Private Collection) painted in 1762, it was not until the mid-1770s that portraits of single dogs begin to feature with any regularity within his repertoire. Dog portraiture began in France at the court of Louis XIV, who commissioned portraits of his favourite hounds from Jean-Baptiste Oudry, and the genre has its origins in the art of venery, particulalry the hunting scenes of Frans Snyders. In England, where the emphasis in hunting was increasingly being placed upon the performance of individual hounds, leading to intense rivalry among the landed elite, this was reflected in the paintings of John Wootton and Peter Tillemans, the former of whom in particular started to produce portraits of dogs in the mid eighteenth century. Fine exapmles of Wootton's work in this manner include the mock heroic portrait of Horace Walpole’s favourite dog Patapan, painted in 1743. However it was Stubbs, a generation later, who really developed the genre, working, as he was, at a time when dogs were becoming increasingly valued not only as sporting trophies, but as objects of interest in themselves, and gaining a new status as prized possessions within English households which they had not formerly enjoyed. His highly sensitive paintings of these animals are executed with infinite attention to detail and are possessed with boundless character and charm. Whilst they are seldom uninteresting as paintings, at their best they are small masterpieces. 1. N. Lytton, Toy Dogs and their Ancestors, New York 1911, p. 52; 2. J. Egerton, George Stubbs. Painter, New Haven and London 2007, p. 56. Signed and dated lower right: Geo: Stubbs / pinxit 1776

  • GBRGrande Bretagne
  • 2013-12-04
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AN ATTIC RED-FIGURED KYLIX

AN ATTIC RED-FIGURED KYLIX attributed to Douris as painter and to Python as potter circa 480 b.c. Tondo: A maenad striding to the right but looking left, clad in a patterned sakkos, a chiton and a swallow-tailed himation, holding an up-ended thyrsos in her left hand and the tail of a cheetah in her right, an inscription to her right praising her beauty, enclosed within a band of single false meander squares alternating with crossed squares Side A & B: The "Death of Pentheus," one side with the Theban women tearing to pieces their young king, with two women clad in chitons, panther skins knotted around their necks, each gripping an arm and Pentheus' head, his entrails spilling out from his torso, a woman, perhaps Pentheus' mother Agave, clad in a chiton to the left gazing skyward, clutching the king's mantle in her hands, further to the left a fourth woman in a chiton and himation grips a dismembered leg from which a bone protrudes, while to the right a kneeling nude satyr, his bearded face turned frontal, raises his hands in horror at the scene unfolding before him; the other side with a woman to the right wearing a chiton, her face turned frontal, holding Pentheus' thigh in her hands, a woman to her left in a chiton and himation, holding a leg aloft in her left hand, and to the far left a woman clad in a chiton, walking left but turning back, her head facing front, holding a thigh, while, between them, amidst the chaos, Dionysos calmly sits, holding his kantharos in his right hand and a vine branch in his left, looking back at a piping satyr; with palmettes below and on either side of the handles, the stem repaired in antiquity 11½ in. (29.2 cm) diameter

  • USAUSA
  • 2000-06-12
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A pair of italian rosewood pietre dure mounted, inlaid ebony cabinets

Of architectural form, the upper parts with pediments surmounted by standing classical figures and putti flanked by female figures with summer and autumn attributes, fitted with drawers, each with a central cupboard enclosing a fitted interior, with an arcaded alcove, inset with panels of lapis lazuli, agate, quartz and various Roman marbles, the pilasters formed of four gilt bronze standing figures and with gilt bronze capitals with rams heads, on plinths supported by four gilt bronze crowned eagles, the mahogany and parcel gilt stands with a moulded top with gadrooned edge above a central frieze with Greek key decoration above two parcel gilt caryatid supports with floral drop swags, the back panel with a central plaque of a female mask centred by gilt wood sun rays, on lion paw feet The rarity of these precious and magnificent pair of pietre dure cabinets lies in the fact that as a pair, these are the only known examples, of such high quality, of either Florentine or Roman production. Almost certainly conceived for the Papal Borghese family, highly skilled craftsmen and bronziers collaborated on this unique commission. The original condition of these cabinets and their striking presence places them at the highest level of Roman pietre dure works of art still left in private hands. Coupled with this are the Regency carved bases, most probably designed by Charles Heathcote Tatham. The remarkable caryatid figures and sun burst design are one of the earliest examples of the antiquarian movement that was adopted by the English cognoscenti in the early 19th century and promoted by such visionaries as William Beckford. These, however, would appear to be one of the earliest examples of this movement and would have been deemed entirely fitting to support such antique rarities and for the historic environment in which they stood. ‘Á sa maison de plaisance (the Villa Borghese) il y a deux petits Cabinets de pierre de touche qui paroissent être fait d’èbene’ A PAIR OF GRAND ROMAN CABINETS AT CASTLE HOWARD Alvar González-Palacios The design of these cabinets derives from Roman architecture of the early 17th century.  The taste for simply inlaid and highly polished stones is also typical for Rome where it was very rare, at this date, to find stone inlays in naturalistic designs with flowers. The crowned eagles that support the cabinets are a further indicator of their Roman provenance. They are a feature in the Borghese[1] coat of arms and the fact that the other heraldic device, a dragon, is not included, does not invalidate the hypothesis since it is the eagle alone that appears on the most famous piece of furniture that belonged to the Borghese family.  This is the large bronze table designed by Alessandro Algardi around 1663, later  enriched, in 1773, by Luigi Valadier[2]. Pietre dure for the Borghese family In his Traictè dela decoration interieure written in 1717, the great Swedish architect Nicodemus Tessin the Younger wrote: “Au Palais du Prince Borghese à Rome il y a au bel Estage un beau Cabinet a voir; le quel est d’ebeine & enrichi d’or, comme aussi de diverses pierres precieuses & des bas-reliefs q’on estime beaucoup. Á sa maison de plaisance il y a deux petits Cabinets de pierre de touche qui paroissent être fait d’èbene »[3]. Tessin was one of the few travellers to record specific works of pietre dure and ebony that belonged to the Borghese since most visitors enthused about the magnificence of the pictures and the wonder of the antiquities, whilst only mentioning in passing the coloured marbles that were displayed around in the Villa on the  Pincio  (described by Tessin as la maison de plaisance) and in the city palace of the family of Pope Paul V (Borghese, 1605-1621).  In 1659 Francis Mortoft confined himself to noting “several pieces of florentyn works” while John Evelyn a few years earlier in 1644 mentioned several “tables of pietra commessa”, in the Villa without describing them, before adding “I went to see the garden and house of ... Cardinal Borghese... we were shown here a fine cabinet and tables of Florence worked in stone”[4]. Other well-known travellers such as Richard Lassels, J.-J. de Lalande and the Abbé Richard seem to have been more impressed by sculptures made using different coloured marbles, like the Seneca morente and the Zingarella both now in the Louvre.  One of the few to record an individual object was the German John Georg Keysler who was in Rome in 1729.  In the Palazzo Borghese he admired “a looking glass with the frame five palmi long and three broad, made of flowered alabaster, jasper, lapis lazuli and other precious stones”[5]. It is important to understand exactly what these different commentators were describing.  Leaving aside the statues made using pieces of coloured marble (because they belong to the history of sculpture rather than applied arts) we have first of all to consider the fundamental difference between objects inlaid with coloured stones.  Stone inlays can in fact be composed either of marbles (calcareous stone) or of hard stones (silicates).  The former are defined in Italian as pietre tenere – soft stones – to differentiate them from the latter which are pietre dure - hard stones sometimes described as semi-precious.  We have to keep this difference at the forefront of our minds since the term pietre dure is so often mistakenly applied to both types of material.  A fundamental consideration is that the different materials require different skills – and tools -  to work them, and the costs involved are therefore also different.  While stonemasons (scalpellini) are required to work marble, hard stones call instead for gem cutters and on rare occasions also jewellers.  Sometimes the craftsman combined both skills but this was very rare.  Inlay using coloured stones has its origins in antiquity and its use in Rome was continuous throughout the Medieval period into the modern era.  This sort of inlay uses pietre tenere, the coloured marbles sourced from around the Mediterranean basin which could be found scattered all over Rome amongst the ruins of antiquity in the form of columns, fragments, or sometimes uncut blocks that had been brought into the city many centuries earlier.  The true pietre dure – the hard stones, are much rarer and more costly. The first to create a formal manufacture of works in pietre dure commesse – inlays or assemblage of hardstones - were the Medici during the time of Cosimo I. However it was his son Cardinal Ferdinando who having lived in Rome until 1587 (where he collected and commissioned works of inlaid marbles) founded the celebrated workshops of Florentine pietre dure when he became Grand Duke of Tuscany.  This explains why many travellers then adopted the term Florentine work even when referring to work made using pietre dure inlay that was not made in Florence. In Rome the Borghese reached the height of their power when Cardinal Camillo became pope in 1605 taking the name Paul V and in the same year raising his sister’s son Scipione Caffarelli Borghese (1577-1633) to cardinal and passing his own surname on to his nephew. Cardinal Scipione, became the greatest patron and collector of his time and it was he who built the villa near the Porta Pinciana.  The oldest guides to the Villa refer to objects there which were inlaid with coloured stones.  In 1650 Iacomo Manilli records, near the statue of the Gladiator “ a table with a black nero antico ground, eight and a half palmi long and five broad, set with valuable stones such as lapislazuli, jaspers, mother of pearl and similar, with an oval in the middle of oriental alabaster of reddish colour and with the frame of black marble”.  From the description it would appear that the table was Roman and made between the sixteenth and seventeenth century, of coloured marbles, set with tiny pieces of hardstones. In another room in the Villa, called the Stanza del Centauro – the room of the Centaur, Manilli recorded “a large mirror with a frame shaped as an aedicule, set with alabasters, jaspers, lapislazuli and other gems, with two small breccia columns and Corinthian capitals”.  This appears to have been a work of greater worth, certainly made in Rome (it was the mirror that Keysler subsequently saw in the Palazzo Borghese in 1729).  Half a century later Domenico Montelatici in his book Villa Borghese fuori di Porta Pinciana, published in 1700, repeats the measurements given by Manilli and describes the same table as still standing near the statue of the Gladiator.  In the Stanza del Centauro, he sees a small “cabinet, supported at the corners by four gilt-bronze lions” but the mirror is not mentioned.  Neither Manilli nor Montelatici mention the two cabinets recorded by Tessin[6]. It is possible that, however brief the mention of them by Tessin, the two pieces of furniture he referred to were those that went to Castle Howard.  From the late seventeenth century onwards no further mention is made of the pietre dure cabinets at Villa Borghese. Style and Execution In early seventeenth century Rome furniture divides into two types: sculptural and architectural.  Cabinet making most fully expresses the latter and the pair of cabinets analysed here are amongst its finest examples. The comparisons that can be found for them range from the ideas expressed by Carlo Maderno in the facade of St Peter’s in the Vatican (finished in 1612), to the work of the architect Flaminio Ponzio, of whom Giovanni Baglione writes in 1649, “he served Pope Paul V in all building works whilst he lived”. The Cappella Paolina in Santa Maria Maggiore, with the tomb of the Borghese pope, was designed by Ponzio and shows some similarities with these cabinets in the way the wall is divided up, articulated by a principal order, completed with a socle and an attic fascia;  even the caryatids with their raised arms in the upper part of the monument recall those on the two cabinets.  Other possible stylistic affinities and references for the cabinets seem to point to the years of Paul V’s pontificate so that a date of about 1625 for the Castle Howard cabinets seems appropriate. For information about who might have been involved with the construction of the cabinets it is useful to look at various payments made by Cardinal Scipione Borghese between 1609 and 1623[7], some to Innocenzo Toscani, an ebony carver, who was paid in 1609, for repairing two cabinets.  In 1611 the same Toscani was paid for a small table of black pear wood with a carved eagle.  A certain Antonio del Drago is described as “custode delle pietre dure” – keeper of the hardstones for the Borghese Pope from 1608 to 1612 and in one instance, it is recorded that del Drago took delivery of the jaspers to be used in the Cappella Borghese at Santa Maria Maggiore.  It is perhaps not coincidental that a large number of the hardstones used in the cabinets here are Sicilian jaspers. These include red jaspers in the tympanum of the aedicule, yellow around the aedicule’s central rectangle, striped in the banding across the top and red jaspers of different tonalities elsewhere.  From Paul V’s accounts we learn that Prince Castiglione, a Sicilian, had sent several varieties of jasper for the chapel in Santa Maria Maggiore in 1610, whilst in the same month a man called Destati had had the task of paying money “alli marinari che han portato li diaspri di Sicilia” – ‘to the sailors who have brought the jaspers from Sicily’ – also for Santa Maria Maggiore[8]. One person who may have been responsible for making the Castle Howard cabinets is Remigio Chilolz (recorded variously as Kilkholz, Chilozzi, Chilols, Chiolis, Chiloltz, Kielholz) who was famous in his time but remains something of a mystery today.  Neither the place nor date of his birth are known but his work for the Borghese and the other princely families of Rome, is well documented. He had a workshop at Monte Giordano and died in 1661.  The earliest reference to him dates to 1629 when Gaspare Vanulkese, a Flemish cabinet maker, active in Rome, and with whom Chilolz had worked, left him his tools when he died.  Chilholz’s name appears in the Cardinal’s papers between 1630 and 1633 the year in which the Cardinal died. In one source (1631) he is described as “Remigio Kilholz ebanista tedesco” – ‘Remigio Kilholz German cabinet maker’.  It is difficult to be absolutely sure of his area of expertise because often it seems he was assembling objects decorated with pietre dure;  however in a payment of 1639, Chilolz supplied Cardinal Barberini with a large cabinet made of ebony with several compartments of silver[9]. As well as Chilolz I would like to mention the names of some other craftsmen who are still relatively unknown to us but were in some way linked to the Borghese because of their involvement in this type of work.  The gold and silversmith Hans Keller (in Italian he was called Giovanni Cheller or Chellero) who was from Nuremberg was active between 1617 and 1632 and his name appears in the Borghese accounts between 1631-32. He seems to have specialised in making precious objects like frames of gilt copper decorated with silver flowers and semi-precious stones[10]. Founders were important contributors to the making and embellisment of these precious cabinets.  Two members of the Fiocchino family, Giuseppe and Lorenzo for example, may have been involved.  Lorenzo supplied dragon-shaped handles and others in the form of eagles for a large walnut cupboard for Palazzo Borghese in 1614.  The following year both craftsmen made different mounts for the camp bed and throne of Paul V which included gilded nail heads bearing the Pope’s arms.  The founder and sculptor Giacomo Laurenziano appears very often as one of the principal makers of works in metal  for the court of Paul V.  For example he is responsible for the eagles and dragons on the column of the Virgin in front of Santa Maria Maggiore (1613).  In the same church between 1606 and 1612 Laurenziano supplies many fittings including handles in the shape of dragons and eagles for the main sacristy and for the sacristy attached to the Cappella Borghese[11]. There are clear similarities between the eagle on those handles and the supports on the two pieces of furniture here.  Baglione whose name has already been mentioned, wrote that Laurenziano often provided “modello e getto” model and cast - so he can also be considered a sculptor. There are two other names that should be mentioned as key artists for the taste of this period.  Early in his pontificate Paul V had acquired some particularly precious pieces of furniture as gifts for his nephew the Cardinal.  These were objects not made specifically for him but which had previously been much admired by the Roman court.  In 1609 the pope bought an ebony cabinet with colonnettes mounted with lapislazuli and angels, silver mounts and panels of lapislazuli painted with biblical scenes.  A second cabinet with a fall front, was painted and damascened in gold with ornaments of semi-precious stones and with a mirror set with different types of breccia and lapislazuli as including a clock, equally richly ornamented. Three years later he gives the Cardinal a casket of rock crystal embellished with gilded ebony, which had been acquired from a Florentine nobleman, a member of the Strozzi family, for five hundred scudi.  Rather more expensive was the cabinet that had belonged to the Ceoli family, an object “made of different stones, gems and other things” which came to the substantial price of three thousand five hundred scudi. Soon after this in May 1613 the Borghese documents mention the name of Pompeo Targone, a skilled artist with several areas of expertise, who made the support for the Ceoli cabinet. It was a base clad in pietre dure including lapislazuli and jaspers of various kinds and cost two thousand scudi[12].  Paul V was very fond of Targone and commissioned a number of important works from him amongst which are the large columns at the sides of the altar in the Cappella Paolina in Santa Maria Maggiore.  They were made of “lame di diaspro incastrate dentro regoli di metallo dorato, cosa non più veduta nemmeno dagli antichi romani”-“jasper veneers set between long narrow mounts of gilt metal, a thing never seen before not even by the ancient Romans”. Another interesting figure is Giovanni van Santen, otherwise known as Vasanzio, who according to Giovanni Baglione, the painter and biographer of the artists of his time, “made ebony cabinets...inset with many jewels”. Vasanzio, who had a cabinet-making workshop in via Giulia in 1606, became architect to the Borghese after 1613 and until his death in 1621 and worked for a long time on the Villa Borghese for Cardinal Scipione[13].  Unfortunately we do not know of any piece of furniture that can be securely attributed to Vasanzio or Targone but what is beyond doubt is that these two cabinets can be linked to the circle of both these great artists who were in close contact with Paul V and his nephew Cardinal Scipione. Conclusions There are a substantial number of cabinets or writing desks, described as stipi, scrittoi or studioli, which we can be certain were made in Rome, between the end of the sixteenth and the end of the seventeenth century and which are distinctive, as we have seen, for their use of pietre dure (particularly lapislazuli, agates and Sicilian jaspers) and for their various kinds of ornament made of bronze and gilded metals (particularly brass). On the other hand not one of these objects is documented, unlike in Florence where, because things were made in the Grand Ducal workshops, every craftsman and every part of the constuction process was recorded and the documents that describe it survive in the Archivio di Stato in Florence. I would just like to pick out three Roman cabinets which because of their dimensions, style and use of stones could be compared to this pair.  Two were recently sold at Sotheby’s, the first, on 6 July 2011 in London, came from the collection of Principe Ruspoli di Poggio Suaso and the second, sold on 9 July 2014, belonged to the Dukes of Northumberland. However the one that most closely resembles the Castle Howard cabinets appeared, again in London, on 10 June 1998, having once been in William Beckford’s famous collection.  Its architectural composition is similar with the middle storey divided by columns and surmounted by an aedicule with flanking volutes.  The fact that the Castle Howard cabinets are a pair increases their rarity considerably.  Added to this they  are in very good condition and come complete with their original mounts and original bronze ornaments. According to Howard family tradition these cabinets were acquired by the fourth Earl of Carlisle, Henry Howard (1694-1758) who visited the continent on two occasions to make the traditional Grand Tour, the first time between 1714 and 1715 and later between 1738 and 1739.  The second journey is of particular interest here because the Earl was in contact with a number of connoisseurs, collectors and agents, both in Rome and Venice.  His principal interest seems to have lain in antiquities and classical gemstones and he managed to acquire several things from Cardinal Pietro Ottoboni and from that phoenix of Italian collectors Cardinal Alessandro Albani.  In Rome on his first visit he had met Philip von Stosch, widely considered to be the greatest connoisseur of antique stones and Francesco Ficoroni, one of the most important dealers of his generation, with whom he maintained a correspondence and whom he met again on his second visit [14]. Lord Carlisle was seen as a man of taste and as such was described as “a great virtuoso” in a letter from Horace Walpole, that arbiter elegantiarum of the eighteenth century English intelligentsia[15]. In 1745 Henrietta, Countess of Oxford, recalled seeing at Castle Howard “three very fine Cabinets”, which confirms an observation made by an anonymous visitor who was enthusiastic about the busts, the statues, the agates, alabasters and marbles and the “many curious cabinetts” placed around the great mansion[16]. Horace Walpole, commented, during his visit to Castle Howard in 1772, that it was a residence that seemed to him to belong “to the highest rank of palatial dignity…in the hall & all over the House are fine busts, urns, columns, Statues, & the finest collection in the World of antique tables of the most valuable marble, & some of old Mosaic, & one of Florentine inlaying.  There are two fine Cabinets of the same work & materials” [17].  This perhaps refers to our cabinets. It is still more interesting to turn back the years to a letter from Rome of 1740 from Belisario Amidei to the Earl of Carlisle, recently returned to England at the end of 1739[18]. Amidei was a well-known dealer of the time, mentioned several times by Winckelman, and in contact with important figures such as Charles III of Spain, who in gratitude for his negotiating skills, gave him a gold snuff-box[19]. Amidei was in touch with Thomas Coke, subsequently Earl of Leicester, to whom he supplied several marble works for Holkham Hall. Coke, Howard and William Kent met in Italy in 1715 [20]. In that year 1740 Amidei sent Carlisle a list of works in his possession amongst which he mentioned “ a cabinet worked in the Galleria of the Grand Duke on every drawer [of which] there is a bird worked in pietre dure with some soft stones as well, with two columns of lapislazuli with four gilded statues at the top and four lions below” . Amidei still had some objects of this kind in his possession at the time of his death in 1770 when a house inventory was drawn up[21]. The letter is interesting here because it not only shows Carlisle’s taste for furniture made with pietre dure but also that it is not impossible that the cabinets here were acquired from Amidei. Translation by Emma-Louise Bassett [1] The Borghese arms include “troncata nel primo d’oro all’aquila di nero coronata d’oro, nel secondo d’azzurro al drago d’oro con la coda recisa” – “in the upper field a black crowned eagle on a gold ground, in the lower a gold dragon on an azure ground, the tail severed”.  For the Borghese provenance see S. S. Jervis, D. Dodd, Roman Splendour. English Arcadia. The English Taste for Pietre Dure and the Sixtus Cabinet at Stourhead, London, 2015, fig. 27-28 [2] For a photograph in which the Borghese coat of arms is shown with only one eagle: A. Gonzalez-Palacios, Arredi e ornamenti alla corte di Roma, Milan, 2004, figs. at pp. 348-349. On some supports, bases and architectural details in Villa Borghese the coat of arms appears with only one eagle [3] N. Tessin the Younger, Traictè dela decoration interieure 1717, edited by P. Waddy, Stockholm, 2002, p. 261. Tessin (1654-1728) was in Italy twice, in 1673 and in 1687-88. The first cabinet that he describes must be that given by Paul V to his nephew, Cardinal Scipione Borghese in 1609 which is described in: A. Gonzalez-Palacios “Concerning Furniture. Roman Documents and Inventories” in Furniture History, XLVI, 2010, p. 65 [4] F. Mortoft, His Book. Being his Travels through France and Italy, 1658-59,  ed. M. Letts, London, 1925, p. 154; The Diary of John Evelyn, ed. A. Dobson, London, 1906, I, pp. 178, 199 [5] J. G. Keysler, Travels through Germany, Bohemia…Italy, London, 1757, II, p. 283: there are different editions of the travels of Keysler in German and English [6]Villa Borghese fuori di Porta Pinciana descritta da Iacopo Manilli, Rome, 1650, pp. 81, 103; D. Montelatici, Villa Borghese fuori Porta Pinciana, Roma, 1700, pp. 219, 292. The marble table referred to in the two guides and by other visitors is still in the Villa: P. della Pergola, Opere in mosaico, intarsi e pietra paesina della Galleria Borghese, Rome, 1971, pp. 42-43 Jervis, Dodd, op. cit at note 1, illustrate at fig. 65 p. 56 a cabinet with the arms of Paul V which was acquired by George IV in 1827 and was, at one time, at Windsor Castle before being sold in 1959. I have not seen this and do not know its current whereabouts [7] Archivio Segreto Vaticano, Archivio Borghese, fascio 6074 [8] A.M Corbo, M. Pomponi, Fonti per la storia artistica romana ai tempi di Paolo V, Rome, 1995, p. 149. In the same volume there are other accounts of the jaspers and hardstones supplied for the  Cappella Borghese. For the Sicilian jaspers see pp. 64, 70 and passim. [9] For Chilolz: Gonzalez-Palacios, Arredi e ornamenti cit. a note 2,  pp, 65, 66; idem, “Concerning Furniture…” cit. at note 3. The payment for Cardinal Antonio Barberini’s studiolo is in I Barberini e la cultura europea del Seicento, ed. L. Mochi Onori, S. Schütze, F. Solinas, Rome,  2007, p. 463 (P. Michel); see also A. Bertolotti,  Artisti francesi a Roma, Mantua 1886, pp. 201-202; idem, Artisti belgi e olandesi a Roma, Rome, 1880, p. 385-386; Thieme Becker, ad vocem, Chilholze [10] Gonzalez-Palacios, Arredi e ornamenti cit. at note 2, pp. 63-65; idem “Concerning Furniture..”, cit. at note 3 [11] Corbo, Pomponi, op. cit at note 8, pp. 40, 80, 165; these handles have been identified by R. Valeriani, the eagles with spread wings have notable similarities to those on the Castle Howard cabinets (E. Colle, A. Griseri, R. Valeriani, Bronzi decorativi in Italia, Milano, 2001, pp.30-31) [12] Gonzalez-Palacios, “Concerning Furniture…” cit at note 3, p. 65 [13] A. Gonzalez-Palacios, Il Gusto dei Principi, Milan, 1993 p. 374 and passim with the related bibliography. See also F. Noack “Kunstpflege und Kunstbesitz der Familie Borghese” in Repertorium für Kunstwissenschaft, L, 1929, pp. 191-231 [14] D. Scarisbrick, “Gem Connoisseurship – the 4th Earl of  Carlisle correspondence with Francesco de Ficoroni and Anton Maria Zanetti” in The Burlington Magazine, 1987, pp. 90-104 [15] Ibidem p. 90 [16]Account of the Visit of Henrietta Countess of Oxford to Castle Howard in April 1745 (MS at Welbeck Abbey); W.J., Account of Travels throughout Britain (Beinecke Library, Yale, Osborne MS c.480, p.92). I would like to thank Christopher Ridgeway from Castle Howard with his help and for notifying me to this. [17] “Horace Walpole’s Journals of visits to country seats, etc”, Walpole Society XVI 1927-1928, p. 72 [18] J. Ingamells, A Dictionary of British and Irish Travellers in Italy, London 1997, p. 181 [19] B. Caciotti,  in Camillo Massimo collezionista di antichità, Rome, 1996, pp. 232-233 [20] Ingamells op. cit. at note 18, pp. 181, 225-226 [21] P. Coen, Il mercato dei quadri a Roma nel diciottesimo secolo, Florence, 2010, I, pp.20-25, II, pp. 465-499 The Stands When these magnificent cabinets arrived in England, the 4th Earl of Carlisle commissioned “carved gilt frames with green baize covers to support them”[1].  Thereafter they were to stand in pride of place in the State Drawing Room at Castle Howard in that form until c. 1800.  At that point the 5th Earl, who had been completing Sir Thomas Robinson’s designs for the West Wing, decided to move the cabinets to his new spectacular Long Gallery and, in doing so, commissioned new more appropriate stands.  John Jackson’s painting of the Long Gallery, dated 1811, shows them already in situ (fig. 7). In deciding on the form of these cabinets Carlisle was following the decision he had made for the entire room.  For whereas the exterior of the West Wing largely continues the Palladian designs of Robinson first put forward in the early 1750’s, internally the Long Gallery was to be in the most advanced Neo-Classical taste.  It was designed by one of that style’s principal proponents, Charles Heathcote Tatham (1772-1842).  Tatham had originally worked for S.P. Cockerell but in 1794 took the opportunity of studying in Rome whilst acting there as Henry Holland’s man of business.  He spent the following two years making drawings of architectural details, acquiring for Holland antique fragments, and becoming acquainted with Canova, Asprucci, Valadier, and the Spanish architect Isidoro Velasquez (who would later build the Casa del Labrador).   Tatham returned to England inspired by these contemporaries to practice a severe Neo-Classical taste.  Shortly after his return it is recorded in the Gentleman’s Magazine that he dined with Lord Carlisle at 12 Grosvenor Place alongside Henry Tresham (who Carlisle probably knew through his son-in-law Lord Cawdor who had been the artist’s patron in Italy).   Tatham was subsequently engaged by Carlisle to design the Long Gallery which was originally envisaged as a sculpture gallery and museum.  A watercolour of the project was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1801 (present whereabouts unknown). It is more than likely that C.H. Tatham would have had some involvement in the design of these idiosyncratic stands.  Even more so when you consider the likely maker.  The 5th Earl had principally relied on John Linnell to produce his elegant mahogany and satinwood furniture which was introduced to both Castle Howard and 12 Grosvenor Place.  Invoices in the Castle Howard’s archives show that this continued until the furniture maker’s death in 1792.  The “heir” to Linnell’s business was the son of his cousin Elizabeth Bloxham who, as Mrs. Tatham, was mother to both Thomas Tatham and his brother Charles Heathcote. Thomas Tatham had formed a partnership with Edward Marsh as early as 1792 and thereafter invoices show that they provided furniture for Lord Carlisle. These payments continue well into the first decade of the 19th Century when the Long Gallery was being completed.  Given that no other substantial payments were made to any other furniture makers, it is highly likely that these stands were made by Marsh and Tatham.  The design, though, especially in the unusual caryatid figures at the corners, owes much to Charles Heathcote’s studies in Rome[2].  They are very close in feeling to the drawings made after designs by Valadier and Boschi as well as independent drawings that Tatham made himself[3].   Frustratingly the payment to Marsh and Tatham dated 11 February 1801 in the Castle Howard archives[4] for the considerable sum of £200 make no mention of what this payment was for. A particularly interesting feature of these stands is the incorporation into the design of earlier elements, namely, the two splendid back panels carved with the head of Apollo from which emanate rays of the sun.  It is tempting to think these may have originally formed part of the 4th Earl’s “carved gilt frames”.  Equally the gilded Greek key pattern that runs along the frieze also looks back to the mid 18th Century.  As with many aspects of the completion at the close of the 18th Century of the architecture of Castle Howard there is a balance here struck between the new and what had gone before. Interestingly, three other similar stands are known, all of which support prized 17th Century furniture and which also incorporate antiquarian elements.  These are an unprovenanced stand in the Getty Museum that supports a Boulle coffer; a stand now at Blenheim which may have been commissioned originally by Lord Gwydir (1754-1820) for Grimsthorpe which passed through the collections of the Marquesses of Exeter in the 19th Century; and that in the Devonshire collection at Chatsworth which again acts as a stand for a Boulle chest (fig. 8).  It is the existence of the latter which is so fascinating, for not only was the 6th Duke of Devonshire (1790-1858) a patron of Marsh and Tatham, but he was also the brother-in-law of the 5th Earl of Carlisle’s heir Lord Morpeth.  In marrying Lady Georgiana Cavendish in 1801 Morpeth established a close family friendship with his Derbyshire neighbours as attested by the letters of his sister Lady Harriet Granville.   The young Lord Hartington, as he was then, (see his portrait by Lawrence in the catalogue), whose life would be devoted to building and collecting would have certainly known about, and taken a lively interest in, the 5th Earl’s completion of Castle Howard.  His decision to acquire such cabinet stands must almost certainly have been prompted by Carlisle’s example. [1] Castle Howard probate Inventory conducted for the 4th Earl of Carlisle, 1759, in the State Drawing Room [2] C H Tatham, Etchings representing the best examples of ancient ornamental architecture: drawn from the originals in Rome, and other parts of Italy, during the years 1794, 1795, and 1796,  printed for the author, and sold by Thomas Gardiner, 1799 [3] Susan Pearce and Frank Salmon “Charles Heathcote Tatham in Italy, 1794-96. Letters, Drawings and Fragments and Part of an Autobiography” Walpole Society, Vol. LXVII, figs. 22, 23, 51, 52, 66, 67 and 68 [4] J. 14/81

  • GBRGrande Bretagne
  • 2015-07-08
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A Memlook Bey, Egypt

Signed and dated JFLewis 1868 lower left By the 1860s John Frederick Lewis was well-established in Britain as the pre-eminent painter of Orientalist genre scenes.  Living in Cairo for nearly a decade, he had made numerous sketches of Egyptian life; he had also acquired a rich collection of Eastern costume and artefacts. When he returned to England he used these to construct the elaborate compositions for which he became famous - luxurious interiors with opulently dressed women and dazzling exteriors depicting colorful bazaars or the sunlit desert - and these had received great public and critical acclaim.  Exhibiting at both the Society of Painters in Water-colours and at the Royal Academy, he had had to relinquish his Presidency and membership of the former in order to be elected to the latter.  This painting, with the title A Memlook Bey, Egypt (no. 876), was one of Lewis's five exhibits at the RA in 1869, four years after his election at that instiution.1  It represented, according to one critic, "a handsome fellow in a white abaieh [abayeh] and holding a sheathed sword upon his shoulder" (The Athenaeum, May 15, 1869, p. 674). While resident in Cairo in the 1840s, Lewis had adopted, in some measure, the lifestyle of a wealthy Ottoman merchant. In common with other long-standing European expatriates with whom he associated, Lewis lived a hybrid existence within the city's cross-cultural community. The witty essayist, William Makepeace Thackeray, had visited him there and in his colorful, tongue-in-cheek account, Notes of a Journey from Cornhill to Grand Cairo, published in 1846, had elaborately highlighted Lewis's luxurious Eastern lifestyle, "going about with a great beard and crooked sword, dressed up like an odious Turk," investing his friend with an Arabian Nights-style glamour – "a dreamy, hazy, lazy, tobaccofied life." Not only was Lewis the suave, urban "bey," who wore "a very handsome grave costume of dark blue, consisting of an embroidered jacket and gaiters, and a pair of trousers, which would make a set of dresses for an English family," but he was also the Bedouin "sheik," whose "great pleasure of pleasures was life in the desert, - under the tents, with still more nothing to do than in Cairo; now smoking, now cantering on Arabs, and no crowd to jostle you; solemn contemplation of the stars at night, as the camels were picketed, and the fires and the pipes were lighted." In England, Lewis seems to have attempted to perpetuate the cultural traverse that he had experienced in Egypt with a series of images that presented Oriental figures with features reminiscent of his own.  The present so-called "Memlook" is one such, the proud untrammelled counterpart to the richly attired pasha surrounded by his harem women, portrayed by Lewis in his famously sensational first exhibit, The Hhareem (SPWC, 1850, no. 147; now Corporate Collection, Japan).  A figure with similar features and wearing the same red Kashmir sash wound as a turban around his head, was portrayed as An Arab in the Desert of Sinai in 1858 and exhibited that year at the Royal Academy (no. 114; now Shafik Gabr Collection, Cairo).  Since neither Lewis nor his contemporaries acknowledged the resemblance to himself, the purpose of these "disguised" portraits must remain speculative, but "it is possible that as well as demonstrating publicly his familiarity with and understanding of Egyptian culture and his unique ability to portray this for a British audience, they were also a private conceit to enable him to relive his oriental experience'" (Llewellyn, "Solitary Eagle"? The Public and Private Personas of John Frederick Lewis," p. 173). As with many of Lewis's exhibited oil paintings, a watercolor version of the subject exists, which was made not for public display but probably for direct sale to one of the growing number of middle-class collectors eager for the artist's work (signed and dated 1863, watercolor and bodycolor, with gum arabic, 8 1/4  x 6 1/4  inches; private collection; see Spink-Leger, 1997, op.cit).  Many of these smaller watercolor versions are almost indistinguishable in composition from the oils, but this example differs in showing only the head and shoulders of the "memlook" and a more partial view of his decorated, curved sword; it also lacks the desert view in the background. Another significant variation is in the man's turban: the same Kashmir cloth (also seen tied as a sash on several of Lewis's Oriental women) is arranged away from his face, revealing his features more clearly, in particular his prominent nose. Other than his portrayal as an imposing man of action, there is little to link this figure with the mamluks.  Imported into Egypt as slaves, they became the country's ruling élite, but they had been ousted and ruthlessly destroyed more than half a century earlier by the ruler of Egypt, Muhammad Ali. In both versions, Lewis has effected an unstated association of his own features with those of an Oriental character-type, with whom his public would have been familiar from their reading of both popular Orientalist tales and factual accounts, and who would have evoked both romantic and historical resonances in the imagination of his viewers. We would like to thank Briony Llewellyn for writing this catalogue entry 1 The present work formerly had an old label attached to verso inscribed A Mimlook. Remaining is a label for Charles Roberson & Co, Artists' Colourmen. Charles Roberson and Co. were one of the major suppliers of artists' materials of the 19th and early 20th centuries, used extensively by Lewis after his return from Egypt, between 1852 and 1875.  Operating from premises in Long Acre, London (from 1853, at No.99) their customers included many of best-known artists of the day. See the Roberson Archive, Hamilton Kerr Institute, University of Cambridge, and the selective directory of "British artists' suppliers" available via the website of the National Portrait Gallery London: http://www.npg.org.uk/research/programmes/directory-of-suppliers/r/british-artists-suppliers-1650-1950-r-part-2.php.

  • USAUSA
  • 2012-09-25
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