- Museum number
Figure, Music; thickly potted, white glazed, soft-paste porcelain; press-moulded; glaze faintly blue where it has pooled; a partly draped female figure is seated on a rock; at her right a musical instrument and by her right foot sheets of music; she holds a scroll in her left hand; to her left, putto seated with a stringed instrument; no marks.
- Production date
- 1748 (circa)
Height: 19.80 centimetres
- Curator's comments
- Dawson 1994
The base of the piece has the same central partition of clay as reg. no. 1938,0217.1, although deeper in this case, presumably to strengthen the oval foot. In view of the crudity of the base, the figure was probably intended to be mounted. The modelling of the two allegorical figure groups is closely related.
The group is listed in the Vincennes factory inventory of 1752 when fifteen examples at 30 livres each were on the premises. Only two sales have been noted in the surviving documents, both in 1756, the first on 4 April 1756 '1 figure en Blanc la musique', at 12 livres, the other '1 Groupe de la Musique' at 18 livres. The latter was sold for cash, the former to M. de Parseval.(6) Only four examples are known to exist; the fate of the other twelve in the ‘magasin de vente’ is still unknown.
It is just possible that the Vincennes group was inspired by Kändler's figure of ‘Poesie’ modelled in June/July 1742(7) but it seems more likely that, like contemporary Bow porcelain figures of the Muses, this group is based on an as yet unidentified French engraving.
It has been suggested by Tamara Préaud and Antoine d'Albis in correspondence with the author, Spring 1991, that this group may have been modelled by hand, but the hollow centre suggests otherwise, at least for the body of the female figure.
(2) Now in the Zwinger, Dresden, illus. Brunet, Marcelle and Préaud, Tamara, ‘Sèvres, des origines à nos jours’, Fribourg, 1978, 1978, pl. 1, p. 28.
(3) Inv. 908. An incised B was noted in a white glazed figure of ‘La Dormeuse’ sold at the Hôtel des Ventes, Saint-Germain-en-Laye, 21 February 1988, Lot 98, illus. Henry Bulidon (born in 1720 at Chantilly where he worked at the porcelain factory) is listed in the Sèvres factory records as a sculptor who was paid for plaster and terracotta models in 1749, see MNS, Archives de Sèvres, D1, liasse 1. A man called Bernard was also listed, but was qualified as an 'apprenti'.
(4) Sotheby's, 10 December 1974, Lot 34.
(5) Christie's, 1 December 1980, Lot 21.
(6) See MNS, Archives de Sèvres, Vy 1, f. 123 and 124 v.
(7) L. Schnorr von Carolsfeld, ‘Porzellansammlung Gustav von Klemperer’, Dresden, 1928, no. 686, Tafel 72.
Comparable Examples: A similar group can be seen on the left of the ‘Bouquet de la Dauphine’ presented by Marie-Josephe of Saxony, the Dauphine of France, to her father Augustus III, Elector of Saxony and King of Poland, in January 1749.(2) A comparable group from the Lair Collection is in the Musée des arts décoratifs, Château de Saumur.(3) It is incised B on the base at the right.(4) An example was sold on the London market in 1974, and another more recently in 1980.(5) In November 1991 an example incised B underneath in a French private collection was exhibited by Dragesco-Cramoisan, Paris.
Literature: King, William, Etude anglaise sur les porcelaines de Vincennes, ‘Bulletin de la Société des Amis de Vincennes’, March 1939, no. 15, p. 196; Savage, George, ‘Seventeenth and Eighteenth-Century French Porcelain’, London, 1960, pl. 69a; Eriksen, Svend and de Bellaigue, Geoffrey, ‘Sèvres Porcelain: Vincennes and Sèvres 1740-1800’, London, 1987, pl. 3, p. 192.
- Not on display
- Putto's instrument partly restored; his neck and left hand repaired.
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- Presented by William King (former Deputy Keeper in the Department of Ceramics and Ethnography, British Museum), 1937.
- Britain, Europe and Prehistory
- Registration number