- Museum number
- Object: L'amour Falconet
Figure; soft-paste biscuit porcelain; hollow, press-moulded; Cupid, the forefinger of his right hand to his lips, is seated on a mound springing from the circular base, over which his right foot projects; behind him is his quiver, to his right a full-blown rose; mark.
- Production date
Height: 30.10 centimetres
- Curator's comments
- Dawson 1994
Probably the most popular figure, with its pendant (see reg. no. 1948,1203.36), ever made at Sèvres.
Modelled by Etienne-Maurice Falconet¹ in 1758 after a marble group of 1757 now in the Louvre Museum. The sculptor repeated the work for Count A.S. Stroganov in the late 1760s when he was in St Petersburg. This marble example was acquired by the Hermitage in 1931. The Empress Catherine the Great owned an example, kept in the Winter Palace in 1771.² The Sèvres model, often known as ‘L’ amour menaçant, L’ amour silencieux’ and ‘Garde à vous’, was in production until 1801/2 (Revolutionary year X) and was revived in the 1850s.³ It comprises 15 pieces and is now estimated to require 1830 hours to make. It is still in production.
The figure is fully discussed by Savill.⁴ Only one size was made.
The earliest record of a sale of the figure occurs on 28 December 1758 when it cost 144 livres;⁵ because the overtime records for 1758 and 1759 do not survive, the names of those who first worked on the figure are unknown. Although frequently sold separately, these figures, like so many other examples of biscuit porcelain sculpture from the factory, were usually sold as part of the dessert service and were intended for table decoration. This example dates from between 1758 and 1766 when Etienne-Maurice Falconet was in charge of the sculpture workshop at the Sèvres factory.
A hard-paste porcelain painted version of this model and its companion (reg. no. 1948,1203.36) made by Joseph Hannong was in a French private collection in 1929.⁶
1. For a biography of Falconet, see Savill, 1988, III, pp. 981-2. The standard reference works on the sculptor's career are L. Réau, ‘Etienne-Maurice Falconet’, Paris, 1922, and G. Levitine, ‘The Sculpture of Falconet’, Greenwich (Conn.), 1972.
2. N. Kosareva, Masterpieces of Eighteenth-Century French Sculpture, ‘Apollo’, Vol. CI, no. 160, June 1975, fig. 4, p. 445.
3. The author is grateful to Tamara Préaud for this information.
4. Savill, 1988, II, p. 823.
5. MNS, Archives de Sèvres, Vy 2, f. 57V.
6. ‘La porcelaine française de 1673 à 1914, la porcelaine contemoraine de Limoges’, Pavillon de Marsan, Paris, November-December 1929, no. 981, pl. XI.
Comparable Examples: London, Wallace Collection, see Savill, Rosalind, ‘The Wallace Collection, Catalogue of Sèvres Porcelain, London’, London, 1988, II, p. 823.
Literature: King, William, The Eckstein Bequest of European Ceramics, ‘British Museum Quarterly’, XVI, no. 3, 1951, p. 80; Wilfred J. Sainsbury, More about Sevres Soft Paste Biscuit, ‘Apollo Miscellany’, 1951, p. 37; Savage, George, ‘Seventeenth and Eighteenth-Century French Porcelain’, London, 1960, pl. 71c.
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. 9, no. 36.
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Britain, Europe and Prehistory
- Registration number