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Work Pair of wall sconces

Department of Decorative Arts: 18th century: rococo

Paire de bras de cheminée "Duplessis''

© 1990 RMN / Daniel Arnaudet

Decorative Arts
18th century: rococo

Author(s):
Muriel Barbier

This pair of porcelain wall sconces is very unusual in its use of three different enamel grounds - blue, pink, and green. Each sconce consists of three curved branches decorated with leaves, typical of the Rocaille style. The sconces were the work of Jean-Claude Duplessis (died 1774) and come from the bedchamber of Madame de Pompadour (1721-1764) in the Hôtel d'Evreux, where she kept them along with her mantelpiece ornaments, also in the Louvre.

A design by Jean-Claude Duplessis

The pair of wall sconces are a prime example of the Rocaille style. The central part consists of a moulded console topped with three curved branches that end in gilded bronze candle-holders. The upper part consists of intertwined fronds, while the lower part is in the shape of leaves and acorns. The candle-rings themselves are formed of the upper part of the branches which open up into corollas. The design probably dates from 1760 and is likely to have been the work of the goldsmith and sculptor Jean-Claude Duplessis (died 1774). Duplessis produced a large number of designs for the Sèvres porcelain factory, creating a new repertoire that was heavily influenced by the Rocaille style.

The subtle use of three colours

The branches of each sconce are embellished with thick ribbons of blue, pink, and green, as well as touches and thin lines of gold. The pink ground dominates the sconces, the only known pair to use the three colours. Only a very few of these sconces - proof of the superb talents employed at Sèvres - were ever made. The Sèvres factory sold twenty pairs between 1761 and 1768. The king owned at least ten. Madame de Pompadour also had a pair with a green ground in her large study at the Chateau de Ménars, most likely the pair now on display at the Metropolitan Museum in New York. Another similar blue and gold pair can be seen at the Musée Nissim de Camondo in Paris.

Wall sconces from the Hôtel d'Evreux

The Hôtel d'Evreux stood in the Faubourg Saint-Honoré district of Paris, not far from the Tuileries and the Champs Elysées. The neighbourhood became fashionable in the early eighteenth century. The Hôtel d'Evreux was built between 1718 and 1720 by Armand-Claude Mollet for Henri de la Tour d'Auvergne, count of Evreux. Madame de Pompadour purchased it in 1753. The Hôtel was a large, elegant town house that Madame de Pompadour, the royal favourite, redecorated in accordance with the tastes of her day. In particular, she kept a large collection of porcelain there. In her bedchamber, she had a set of mantelpiece ornaments including a pot-pourri holder decorated with a ship (OA 10965), a pair of pot-pourri holders decorated with fountains and dolphins, now in the Jean Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, and two other pot-pourri holders that doubled as a candelabra, now lost. The set of mantelpiece ornaments was delivered to her on May 30, 1760. It is likely that she thought of the two sconces as part of the set.

Bibliography

Xavier Salmon (sous la dir. de), catalogue d’exposition : « Madame de Pompadour et les arts », Versailles, Éditions de la Réunion des musées nationaux, 2002, pp. 448-449
Catalogue d’exposition : « Un Défi au goût », Paris, Éditions de la Réunion des musées nationaux, 1997, p .76.

Technical description

  • Manufacture royale de porcelaine de Sèvres

    Paire de bras de cheminée "Duplessis''

    vers 1760

  • Porcelaine tendre

    H. : 0,43 m. ; L. : 0,26 m. ; Pr. : 0,18 m.

  • Acquisition, 1985 , 1985

    OA 11027, OA 11028

  • Decorative Arts

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