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Work Medicis vase
Department of Decorative Arts: 19th century
© 2011 Musée du Louvre / Philippe Fuzeau
At the Manufacture de Sèvres exhibition in 1824, Louis XVIII gave his brother the Comte d'Artois (the future Charles X) a monumental Medicis vase with a painted cameo-style decoration by the painter Louis-Bertin Parant. A second example was made in 1826. The two vases decorated the Etruscan Vases Room at the Louvre.
A gift chosen at a porcelain exhibition
Louis XVIII revived a tradition of the Ancien Régime-that of an annual exhibition of porcelain from the Manufacture Royale de Sèvres, enabling the king to choose New Year presents for his family. Louis XVIII thus selected two vases for his brother the Comte d'Artois at the exhibition in January 1818. At the 1824 exhibition, the last present that Louis XVIII presented to his brother was a monumental Medicis vase with a subject drawn from antiquity: Augustus closing the gates of the Temple of Janus. Another vase was made in 1826, this time illustrating a contemporary subject, the entry of Charles X after his coronation.
The fashion for cameo-style painting
The band of decoration on the body of the vase is the work of Louis-Bertin Parant, a specialist in painting imitation antique cameos. The band is painted as a continuous scene, with the figures assembled around the emperor, seen in profile, sitting in a Roman chariot drawn by two horses; other figures surround two standing women (possibly Religion and Faith) crowning a potted lily on an altar. Cameo-style painting was very popular during the Empire, as well as during the Restoration. Parant made several works using the technique, such as Le Déjeuner à l'Apothéose d'Henri IV, kept at the Château in Pau.
In fashion since the Empire, the so-called "Medicis" style of vase was inspired by classical models. The choice of cameo-style painting contributed to this theme from antiquity and made it possible to imitate valuable works in a cheaper material. This work influenced by antiquity is completed by bronze ornaments: the lip is highlighted by a palmette frieze, the rim of the foot is marked by a frieze of laurel leaves and palmettes, and the handles have a fluted decoration. This type of Medicis vase continued to be manufactured at Sèvres; Charles X gave similar models to the composer François Adrien Boieldieu in 1825 and another was delivered to the Galerie de Diane at the Château de Saint-Cloud in 1838.
Manufacture de SÈVRES, Louis-Bertin PARANT (1758-1851)
Etruscan Vases Room; the Louvre
Manufacture de Sèvres, France
Hard-paste porcelain; chiseled, gilded bronze
H. 1.28 m; W. 0.89 m.
A gift from Louis XVIII to his brother, the future Charles X
MR XIV 46
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