- Museum number
Pedestal; hard-paste biscuit porcelain, lathe-turned at foot and neck, the central area washed pale blue and decorated with applied reliefs in white biscuit porcelain representing Diana hunting and Diana and Actaeon; mark.
- Production date
- 1788 (circa)
Diameter: 21.40 centimetres
Height: 24 centimetres
- Curator's comments
- This may be the 'Piédestal bas relief' sold to an unspecified buyer for 240 livres at Versailles on 31 December 1785 (MNS, Archives de Sèvres, Vy 10, f.8v.). Alternatively it could be the 'socle bas relief' sold for 360 livres to the King between 21 December 1787 and 4 January 1788 as a support for the figure of Hebe (MNS Archives de Sèvres, Vy 10, f. 199). Or it may be one of two 'grand [sic] pieds d'autel a fond bleu a bas relief' for which the thrower Louis Petion (Louis Petion joined the factory in 1770 as a labourer [manoeuvre] becoming a repairer two years later. He worked both as a repairer and thrower in the hard-paste atelier from 1773 until 1789, leaving the factory in that year. He returned in 1794, becoming chief of the hard-paste kilns. He received a pension in 1818 and died four years later. This information is taken from Dauterman, 1986, p.119. In 1788 his monthly salary as a thrower of the first class was 75 livres) was paid 48 livres in 1788 (MNS, Archives de Sèvres, Va' 11 , , Relevé des travaux fait dans l'ateler de porcelaine dure dans le courent [sic] de l'année 1788). He worked on seven others in the same year, each earning him 24 livres. The nature of the autel has not yet been determined. Whilst the blue ground is not specified for the pedestal and socle, the factory records show that blue grounds were in production in the 1770s and blue paste in the following decade. A further mention should be made of two 'vases bas relief Pate bleu [sic] which were fired on 8 July 1786 (MNS, Archives de Sèvres, Vc'3, Registre de l'enfournement et défournement des pièces en couvert pâte dure).
Coloured grounds were being used for portraits at Sèvres as early as 1773, on the evidence of the factory records (MNS Archives de Sèvres , I 8, Inventaire géneral des pocelaines trouvèes dans la Manufacture de Porcelaine du Roy, au premier janvier 1774. These pieces must have been made in the previous year) and of Thomas Bentley's diary of three years later (T. Bentley, Journal of a Visit to Paris 1776, University of Sussex 1877, p. 75). Blue grounds were also used for biscuit porcelain plaques which were intended for mounting in furniture, a practice already established in the mid-1780s (For examples see Dawson, 1982, pp. 98-100). The well known candelabrum by Thomire commemorating American Independence is mounted on the socle with three small curved biscuit blue-ground porcelain plaques with subjects in relief relating to the War of Independence (Discussed by C. Baulez, 'Notes sur quelques meubles et objets d'art des appartements intérieurs de Louis XVI et de Marie-Antoinette', Le Revue du Louvre, 5/6, 1978, pp. 359-73, see pp. 360-1, for the candelabrum).
A circular table-top with reliefs of 'Telemarque recounting his adventures to Calypso' was shown at Versailles at the end of 1787 to general approbation. On 14 February 1788 it was purchased by the comte de Fernan Nunès, Spanish ambassador to the Court of France for Charles III of Spain (D. Guilliem-Brulon, 'Rare Biscuit de Sèvres façon Wedgwood au Palais Royal de Madrid', Cahiers, no. 40, 1968, pp. 252-6). Another table with a similar top with the addition of several scenes was a gift to the comte de Livourne, King of Etruria, from the French Minister of the Interior in 1792 (D.H. Cohen, 'Four Tables-Guéridons by Sèvres', Antologia di Belle Arts', No. 13/14, December 1980, pp. 3-6, figs. 7,8). A further table mounted with blue-ground biscuit plaques with classical subjects was in the workshop of Thomire on 19 Prairial, l'an XIII (8 June 1805); it is now in the Bayerisches Nationalmuseum, Munich (D.H. Cohen, pp.2-3, figs. 4,3).
A number of blue and white biscuit porcelain figures have been traced, most dating from the second decade of the nineteenth century (See Dawson, 1982, pp,97-8). A reference in the factory records to a 'Mars pâte bleu et blanche' sold to the Spanish Ambassador for 72 lvres in early 1788 shows, however, that they were in production in the 1780s (MNS Archives de Sèveres, Vy 10, f. 222, [undated, probably 21 January 1788). Biscuit groups of the Toilet of Venus and Diana Bathing are known (Philadelohia Museum of Art, Pennsylvania, inv. 45-49-1 and 45-49-2). As their bases measure 22cm and 20.6cm respectively, it is possible that they could have fitted on top of a pedestal of this kind, and their height of 36cm would have been in proportion. Both groups were modelled by Boizot in 1780 (Bourgeois and Lechevallier-Chevignard, 1913, pl. 36, nos. 582, 187 [wrongly numbered on plate as 87]).
Classical themes enjoyed great popularity as subjects for reliefs during the 1980s. Curved white biscuit porcelain plaques of Diana Hunting and Diana Bathing can be found on a pair of monumental Vases Medicis dated1784, the work of Boizot, Duplessis and Thomire, delivered for the Cabinet Intérieur du Roi at Versailles and now in the Louvre. Another vase with a curved biscuit plaque of Diana Hunting from the Palace of St-Cloud is dateable to a year earlier (See C. Dreyfus, Catalogue sommaire du mobilier et des objets d'art du XVIIe et du XVIIIe siècle, no. 459, pl.LXI). In view of the royal origins of the vases mentioned above there is a possibility that the pedestals too were destined for the King.
The plaques Diane donnant le Prix and Diane Surprise au bain were also made in flat versions; these originally cost 56 livres and were increased by 140 livres on 1 November 1787 (MNS Archives de Sèvres, Y 19, f. 520. An example of Diana Hunting, measuring 30.1cm by 15.9cm, is thought tio have been bought by Colonel T. H. Perkins in Paris in 1792, Boston Museum of Fine Arts, inv. 52.1470). The source of the relief scenes is unknown, except for the Madrid table, where the Telemaque subject has been ascribed to Jean Raoux (Guillemé- Brulon, op. sit. p. 254).
Comparable Examples: London, V&A Museum, inv.395-74, reliefs of The Toilet of V-Brulon, 'Rare Biscuit de Sèvres façenus and Diana Bathing.
- Not on display
- Chips to rim, damage to one arm and a thumb.
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- Presented by Mr and Mrs I. Falcke in 1909; formerly in the possession of a Mr Philips.
- Britain, Europe and Prehistory
- Registration number