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Work The Four Seasons: Spring in the guise of Flora, Summer as Ceres, Autumn as Bacchus, Winter as an old man

Department of Decorative Arts: 18th century: rococo

Le Printemps sous les traits de Flore

© Musée du Louvre, dist. RMN / Thierry Ollivier

Decorative Arts
18th century: rococo

Author(s):
Rochebrune Marie-Laure de, Paillat Edith

These four busts on a pedestal represent the Four Seasons. A figure of Apollo, now in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, originally completed the set. Although they are not signed, these objects are true masterpieces of modeling and have been attributed to the Rouen faience manufactory of Nicolas Fouquay. As for their decoration, it is very similar to works signed by the painter Pierre Chapelle.

Allegorical representations

This series of four faience busts on pedestals representing the Four Seasons was produced around 1730 in the Rouen manufactory of Nicolas Fouquay. The theme of the Four Seasons, traditional in Western Art since the Renaissance, was a much favored allegorical subject in the 18th century. As was customary, Spring, Summer and Autumn are represented here under the appearance of three ancient Gods: Flora, Goddess of Greenery, crowned with flowers, Ceres, Goddess of Harvests, ears of corn around her hair, and Bacchus, God of Wine, covered with vine branches and grape bunches. As for Winter, he is a robust old man wrapped in a cloak.

A faience set that is exceptional in the Rouen production

The monumental size of these four busts sets them apart as a unique and exceptional ensemble in the production of faience from Rouen. Each of the pedestals, whose form owes much to the work of the cabinetmaker André-Charles Boulle (1642-1732), has a different decoration. The repertoire of ornaments and the palette of colors used for the Four Seasons is borrowed from contemporary high-temperature color faience: lambrequins, drapings and garlands of flowers, pagodas, trellicework, Oriental fabrics, landscapes, birds, seashells, etc.

A prestigious collection

This set was originally completed by a fifth piece representing Apollo. The five busts are believed to have been purchased in 1846 by the tenth Duke of Hamilton. His son offered the Sun God's effigy in 1857 to the Kensington Museum in London (now the Victoria and Albert Museum). The Four Seasons, on the other hand, went to the Musée du Louvre following the auctioning of Hamilton's collection by his grandson William Alexander in 1882.

Bibliography

Ballot Marie-Juliette, Musée du Louvre. La Céramique française. Nevers, Rouen et les fabriques du XVIIe et du XVIIIe siècle, Paris, Éditions Albert Morancé, 1924, p. 17, pls 24-25.

Ennes Pierre, Musée du Louvre. Département des objets d'art, La Céramique du XVIIe au milieu du XIXe siècle, Paris, Éditions des musées nationaux, 1992 (Petit Guide 116), p. 4-6.

Durand Jannic, Le Louvre : les objets d'art, Paris, Éditions Scala ; Editions de la Réunion des Musées nationaux, 1995, p. 94.

Les collections du Louvre, Paris, Éditions de la Réunion des Musées nationaux, 1999 (Anthologie des collections), p. 255.

Caubet Annie, Pouyssegur Patrick, PRAT Louis-Antoine, Légendes du temps, Paris, Editions de la Réunion des Musées nationaux, 2000 (collection Louvre Promenades), p. 34, ill. 23.

Exposition, Peintures et sculptures de faïence, Rouen XVIIIe siècle, Rouen, musée des Beaux-Arts, octobre 1999-janvier 2000.

Technical description

  • Fabrique de Nicolas Fouquay

    Le Printemps sous les traits de Flore

    Vers 1730

    Rouen

  • Faïence de grand feu

    Buste : H. : 0,83 m. ; L. : 0,60 m. ; Pr. : 0,26 m.Gaine : H. : 1,38 m. ; L. : 0,59 m. ; Pr. : 0,29 m.

  • Ancienne collection Hamilton ; acquis en 1882 , 1882

    OA 2608

  • Decorative Arts

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