- Museum number
- Object: Le Baiser Donné
Figure; soft-paste biscuit porcelain; hollow base; man kneels, supporting the kneeling young girl on his left knee and holding her upper back and waist in his arms; his right foot projects slightly over the 'rocky' base; over his right ankle a flower garland and behind him her broad-brimmed hat; he wears breeches and a loose shirt under a jacket; his hair tied at the back; the young girl wears a dress with full skirt and low-cut bodice beneath a jacket with half-sleeves, her hair braided at the back; no marks.
- Production date
1765-1786 (made circa)
Height: 18.10 centimetres
- Curator's comments
- Dawson 1994
Pair with 1948,1203.24.
Modelled by Etienne-Maurice Falconet in 1765 and based on Taconet's play ‘Le Baiser Donné et Le Baiser Rendu’ performed at the Théâtre des Boulevards in 1765 and on 19 May 1770 at Versailles on the occasion of the marriage of the Dauphin. According to the play, which was printed at Paris, 1771,² in Act I, scene 5, Lisette, a young, newly-wed peasant girl, is kissed by the Marquis, the local ‘seigneur’, who gives her husband, Guillot, some money to buy her “des rubans et des lacets”. In Act II, scene 6, Guillot asks the Marquis permission to “chase on his lands”, that is, to kiss the Marquise and repay the debt.
The group, designed to be viewed in the round, again reveals Falconet's skill in positioning figures whose attitudes betray a certain erotic abandon.
The group, which is still in production, but was not reissued after 1786 until late this century,³ is presently calculated to require 2,160 hours to make. An eighteenth-century plaster mould comprising eleven pieces survives at the factory.⁴ The sculptor Perrotin was paid 36 livres for work on the group in July 1765,⁵ whilst Leclere received 18 livres in the following month “Avoir remonté la terre du Baiser donné” and “Avoir réparé le plâtre dud.”⁶ A plaster model and an eighteenth-century mould are preserved at the factory. Other sculptors, including Mignan, Furet, Levaux and Mathias, worked on the group in 1765, the last mention of 'extra' work on the group occurring in December 1777. The first sale recorded was in December 1765, when a group sold at Versailles cost 144 livres.⁷ In 1777 it sold at 96 livres, and in 1787 the price was lowered to 72 livres.
1. Illus. Bourgeois, Emile, ‘Le Biscuit de Sèvres au XVIIIe Siècle’, Paris, 1909,Vol. 2, fig. 25, where it is said be after Boucher. However, no evidence has been found for this statement.
2. There is a copy of the work in the British Library.
3. According to Tamara Préaud in private correspondence with the author in September 1991.
4. The writer is grateful to Tamara Préaud for information about the number of pieces making up this mould.
5. MNS, Archives de Sèvres, F8, ‘Travaux extraordinaires’.
7. MNS, Archives de Sèvres, Vy 4, f. 55 V.
1) Exhibition, ‘La porcelaine française de 1673 à 1914, la porcelaine contemoraine de Limoges’, Pavillon de Marsan, Paris, November-December 1929, no. 839, (with ‘Le Baiser Rendu’) from the Fenaille Collection; sold Paris, Hôtel Drouot, 12 June 1941, Lot 45; sold Sotheby's, 5 May 1970, Lot 37, Wilfred J. Sainsbury Collection, illus. W. Sainsbury, Large groups and figures in the soft-paste biscuit of Vincennes-Sèvres, ‘Antiques’, Vol. LXXXVII, no. 4, April 1965, p. 433, fig. 9.
2) Sèvres, Musée national de Céramique, inv. 8055 hard-paste porcelain.¹
3) USA, New York, Christie's, The Elizabeth Parke Firestone Collection, Part I, 21-2 March 1990, Lot 143 (with pendant), formerly Fenaille Collection.
Literature: King, 1951-2, p. 80; Honey, William B., ‘French Porcelain of the 18th Century’, London, 1950, pl. 67; Savage, George, ‘Seventeenth and Eighteenth-Century French Porcelain’, London, 1960, pl. 72(a); Savage, 1963 ed., pl. 47.
Bibliography: Bourgeois, Emile and Lechevallier-Chevignard, Georges, ‘Le Biscuit de Sèvres – recuil des modèles de la manufacture de Sèvres au XVIII (18) siècles’, Paris, n.d. (1913), pl. 8, no. 94.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
2015 4 Nov-2016 28 Mar, Germany, Frankfurt am Main, Liebieghaus Skulpturensammlung - Stadtische Galerie Liebieghaus, Dangerous Liaisons
- The little finger of her right hand missing.
- Associated titles
Associated Title: Le Baiser Donné
Associated Title: The Kiss Given
- Acquisition date
- Britain, Europe and Prehistory
- Registration number