Work Pair of Clodion model vases
Department of Decorative Arts: 19th century
Paire de vases "Clodion" de Monsieur
© 1991 RMN / Daniel Arnaudet
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.
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.
BibliographyExposition "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.
Manufacture de Sèvres
Paire de vases "Clodion" de Monsieur
Porcelaine dure, bronze doré
H. 0.76 m; W. 0.55 m.
Acquisition, 1991 , 1991
Cartels par Jean-Charles Develly
OA 11340, OA 11341
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