Work "Hébert" potpourri vase
Department of Decorative Arts: 18th century: neoclassicism
© 2005 Musée du Louvre / Peter Harholdt
18th century: neoclassicism
Jean-Claude Duplessis (d. 1774) designed several vase patterns, first for Vincennes and then for Sèvres. He is the designer of the "Hébert" potpourri vase, which takes it name from that of a famous Parisian art dealer. Though the overall silhouette of the vase is influenced by the Rocaille style, the grisaille decoration painted by Jean-Baptiste-Etienne Genest (d. 1789) and the gilt bronze mount testify to the advent of Neoclassicism at Sèvres.
A shape designed by Jean-Claude Duplessis
For the Sèvres manufactory, Jean-Claude Duplessis produced many patterns for vases and tableware that remained in production until the end of the ancien régime. He trained as a goldsmith and bronze caster with the leading exponents of the Rocaille style, which influenced his work for Sèvres. The "Hébert" potpourri vase bears the name of the famous dealer Thomas-Joachim Hébert, who acquired a share in the Vincennes manufactory at a very early point. This pattern was created by Duplessis in 1756 and produced until the end of the 1760s. The vase is pear-shaped and stands on a small circular foot. The fact that the lid is pierced with openings, in the form of petals, makes it a potpourri. Its undulating form still shows the influence of the Rocaille style, but the gilt bronze mount, formed of rams' heads, grotesque masks, and a frieze of wave motifs, is Neoclassical in inspiration. This mount is probably also the work of Duplessis.
A blue ground specked with gold
The vase is decorated with a blue ground covered in little specks of gold paint in groups of four, a procedure that gives the ground a shimmering aspect, which almost hides the blue beneath. This may be the Fallot blue used at Sèvres between 1765 and 1770 or another pale blue. The same type of ground can be seen in a Bachelier vase at the Louvre from 1766.
Decoration attributed to Jean-Baptiste-Etienne Genest
Jean-Baptiste-Etienne Genest was first employed at the royal manufactory in 1752. In 1753 he was appointed head of the painters' workshop. He chose the pieces to be decorated, the subjects to be depicted, and the artists. He also provided the painters with models. Genest was a specialist in a type of decoration imitating relief. For this the ground was removed before firing to produce a reserve for the grisaille. On each side of the Louvre vase is a medallion created in this way. On the front is a military scene in the antique manner, and on the back a trophy of arms. These two medallions are surrounded by a border of laurel leaves. The medallion on the front is supported by winged cupids, also in grisaille . In 1768 and 1769 Genest executed many such grisaille paintings. He also did the designs for the service with sky-blue ground and decorated with antique cameos made for Catherine II of Russia.
BibliographyNouvelles Acquisitions du département des Objets d'art (1995-2002), Paris, Editions de la Réunion des musées nationaux, 2003, pp. 126-127.
Un défi au goût, 50 ans de création à la manufacture royale de Sèvres (1740-1793), Paris, Editions de la Réunion des musées nationaux, 1997, p. 75.
Manufacture royale de porcelaine de Sèvres
1769 - 1770
Porcelaine tendre, bronze doré
H. : 0,41 m. ; L. : 0,35 m. ; Pr. : 0,18 m.
Ancienne collection Lionel de Rothschild ; don de la Société des Amis du Louvre, 1995 , 1995
The Louvre is open every day (except Tuesday) from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.