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Home>Collection & Louvre Palace>Curatorial Departments>Ewer

Aiguière

© 1995 RMN / Daniel Arnaudet

Decorative Arts
19th century

Author(s):
Barbier Muriel

This monumental ewer, probably from a model by the sculptor Jean-Baptiste-Jules Klagmann (1810-67), is an homage to Bacchus, god of wine. Decorated with friezes in high and low relief, it is the work of an exceptional silversmith, whose identity, in the absence of any mark, remains unknown.

A monumental ewer

This ornamental ewer comes from the collection of Mme Bro de Commères, which in 1900 also contained a second ewer similar to this one. The Louvre ewer is a meter in height, an impressive size for a piece of silver. Its form is that of a Renaissance ewer. It stands on a small foot, below a knop in the form of a flattened knot. The ovoid body has a long, slender handle and an extended neck with a long, flared lip. The whole surface of the ewer is decorated with low relief and sculpture in the round, obscuring its form.

Bacchic iconography

In keeping with one function of this type of vessel, wine is the theme of its rich decoration. The foot has a step covered with bunches of grapes, two children astride a swan, a gryphon, and two nymphs riding dolphins. The body is covered by a continuous frieze of antique figures, very densely composed. On one side are Bacchus, with his thyrsus, and Ariadne, accompanied by women and children. On the other side a Dionysiac celebration, involving bacchantes, satyrs, and men, is at its height. This frieze of intertwined figures was undoubtedly inspired by Roman Dionysiac sarcophagi. Beneath the lip, a child seated on a turtle brandishes a club. Finally, the handle is adorned with a figure of Ganymede, who would become the cup-bearer to the gods, after being abducted by Jupiter in the form of an eagle.

Uncertainty as to the maker

The design of the piece has been attributed to the sculptor Jean-Baptiste-Jules Klagmann, who specialized in the Renaissance Revival style. It is known that he often provided goldsmiths with models, and there are stylistic similarities between this Bacchus ewer and other works by him, such as the Emmery vase executed by François-Désiré Froment-Meurice, which has the same exuberant ornamentation and aversion to empty space. Yet the second ewer in the Bro de Commères collection was from a model by Jean Feuchère (1807-52), chased by Antoine Vechte (1799-1868), and the similarity between the two pieces is striking. What is more, other famous silversmiths, such as Duponchel, Morel, or the Fannières brothers, cannot be excluded. There is, unfortunately, no mark to identify the maker.

Bibliography

Alcouffe D., Bascou M., Dion-Tenenbaum A., Masse M.-M., Posseme E., "Une dation récente : un important ensemble d'orfèvrerie des XIXe et XXe siècles", in La Revue du Louvre et des Musées de France, n 1, 1996, p. 82.
Dernières acquisitions du département des Objets d'art (1990-1994), Paris, Editions de la Réunion des musées nationaux, 1995, pp. 252-255.
Un Age d'or des Arts décoratifs 1814-1848, Paris, 1991, pp. 454-455.

Technical description

  • Jean-Valentin MOREL

    Aiguière

    1856

    Paris

  • Argent

    H. : 1,01 m. ; D. : 0,26 m. ; L. : 0,46 m.

  • Commandée par Olivier baron Bro de Comères ; dation en paiement des droits de successions, 1994. , 1994

    OA 11741

  • Decorative Arts

    Richelieu wing
    1st floor
    Duc de Nemours
    Room 81

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