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Work Pair of Clodion model vases

Department of Decorative Arts: 19th century

Pair of Clodion model vases

© 1991 RMN / Daniel Arnaudet

Decorative Arts
19th century

Author(s):
Barbier Muriel

These vases were acquired by Louis XVIII at the Exposition of Manufactory Works of 1818 as a gift for his brother, the Count d'Artois, later Charles X, and as a result they were named vases "of Monsieur" (meaning "of the King's brother"). They required several collaborators headed by Alexandre Brongniart (1770-1847) who was then testing the draftsman Jean-Charles-François Leloy. Adorned with exotic scenes, they represent a new inspiration in decorative arts of the late Restoration period.

Leloy as coordinator

This pair of vases was one of the first works produced by the draftsman and 'ornemaniste' (painter specialized in ornaments) Jean-Charles-François Leloy at the Manufacture de Sèvres. It seems that at the time Alexandre Brongniart was still testing this artist who did not become a member of the workshop until the following year. After that, the collaboration between Brogniart and Leloy lasted until 1844. Leloy coordinated the different stages of production on the two vases for which a great many collaborators were necessary. The model for these pieces was not new since it was invented at the end of the 18th century by the sculptor Clodion. Leloy composed the painted decoration and the models for the bronze pieces. The ground was painted by Louis-Victor Godin, the bronzes mounted by Louis-Honoré Boquet and gilded by Charles-Louis Constant. Jean-Charles Develly created the painted panels and the painter-gilder Charles-Christian-Marie Durosey completed their decoration.

The painted decoration

The ground painted by Louis-Victor Godin is an imitation of tortoiseshell. From the time he was appointed to head the manufactory, Brongniart encouraged novel techniques and decorations, in particular the imitation of precious materials for grounds. In this case, the tortoiseshell coloring added to the exotic aspect of the piece. Against this background, Jean-Charles Devilly painted two panels representing animals and landscapes of Africa. His main source was the book by Samuel Daniell, African Scenery and Animals (1804-5). However, he may also have done research at the Musée d'Histoire Naturelle. One of the vases shows the Kudu antelope and nests of a species of troupial, and the other the Impala antelope and social weaver nests.

Exoticism

Both the choice of a tortoiseshell ground and the theme of the panels give these vases an exotic flavor. Flora and fauna are treated in a very naturalistic manner, demonstrating the new precision applied to the representation of species as a result of the development of natural sciences. The decision to represent scenes from Africa was nonetheless truly a novelty and was probably a consequence of the new interest in this continent just then becoming prey to colonizers. These touches of exoticism are completed by the design of the gilt bronze handles, which are in the shape of elephant heads topped with plumes. Leloy was able to recapture the spirit of the Sèvres production of the 18th century, using the form created by Clodion, and at the same time apply decoration of great fantasy to this model.

Bibliography

Exposition "Nouvelles acquisitions du Département des objets d'art" 1990-1994, Paris, 1995, p 260-262.
Exposition "Un Age d'or des Arts décoratifs" 1814-1848, Paris, 1991, p 102-104.

Technical description

  • Jean-Charles-François LELOY, Louis-Victor GODIN, Louis-Honoré BOQUET, Jean-Charles DEVELLY, Charles-Christian-Martin DUROSEY

    Pair of Clodion model vases

    1817

    Offered as a gift by Louis XVIII to his brother, the future Charles X, in 1818.

    Sèvres, France

  • Hard-paste porcelain, gilt bronze

    H. 0.76 m; W. 0.55 m.

  • Purchased 1989

    OA 11340, OA 11341

  • Decorative Arts

    Richelieu wing
    1st floor
    Louis XVIII
    Room 76

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Additional information about the work

Inscription painted in gold beneath each panel: "View taken in Tsitsikamma, east of the Cape of Good Hope/Showing the Kudu antelope and nests of a species of troupial".