- Museum number
Medallion; hard paste porcelain; oval; blue ground, in relief in white, profile portrait to left of Jean-Jacques Hettlinger (1734-1803) in jacket, ruffled shirt, wig tied with ribbon bow; signature.
- Production date
- 1785 (May)
Length: 145 millimetres
Width: 122 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- Text from Dawson 2000:
The medallion was modelled in May 1785 by Jacques Auguste Collet (MNS Archives de Sèvres, H. 3. I owe this reference and others on Collet's career to Tamara Préaud), who was taken on at the Sèvres factory soon after 7 October 1783 when d'Angivillier approved his nomination by Boizot, on condition that he won second prize at the Académie de Saint-Luc ((MNS Archives de Sèvres, D 3. liasse 2. Citoyens composant le Department de Modeleurs et Sculpteurs, An 1 Germinal ?? Le Cit Le Riche en est chef. I am grateful to Bernard Dragesco for this reference). A list of modellers and sculptors at the factory drawn up in the Revolutionary years and dated 21 March 1795 gives his starting date as October 1783 and his age as forty-four. His salary was 84 livres initially, increasing by 3 livres in 1786, and reaching 90 livres in 1788. He continued to work for the factory throughout the Revolution, until an VIII when he was no longer required. However, in an XIII he was again employed, this time in a supernumary capacity.
Neither the model nor the mould for the medallion, which is carefully finished, have survived in the factory archive; for a blue-ground plaster see above. Twelve examples are recorded as having been successfully fired on 1 Fbruary 1790 and delived to 'M. Hettling', presumably for his family or friends (MNS Archives de Sèvres, HVc 4. Enfournements de Sculptures. Hettlinger was himself a collector of medallions which he purchased from the factory. Many are recorded in the papers kept in a box of documents referring to Hettlinger in the factory archive , carton Y38). No other medallions of Hettlinger are known.
The medallion, like the one of Alexandre Brachard (cat. no. 168) is an unusual example of a portrait of a member of the Sèvres factory workforce.Hettlinger (biographical details extracted from Ganz, 1961), a native of Winterthur, Switzerland, was apprenticed as a barber-surgeon in Zurich between 1750-3. In 1756, through his connection with a ceratin Beugnière de la Tour, or Bongier, he obtained a post as doctor at the latter's copper mine in Baïgorry, Navarre, where he remained until 1784. During this period he undertook administrative tasks and made some technical advances, eventually becoming director of the mines and 'Inspecteur général des mines de Navarre'. His study of natural history , and in particular of entomology, resulted in several publications as well as his election to the Academy of Sciences of Lisbon and the Physical Society of Zurich. The exact circumstances surrounding his appointment in 1784 as the Sèvres factory's inspector and co-director are unknown. In July 1793, as disorder due to Revolutionary events increased, he was briefly imprisoned at Sainte-Pélagie. However on 13 pluviöse an III (1 January 1795) he was appointed one of three directors by the Comité de l'Agriculture et des Arts, and effectively ran the factory during one of its most difficult periods until the appointment of Alexandre Brongniart. He kept his title even after this but died soon after(see G. Lechevallier-Chevignard, La Manufacture de Porcelaine de Sèvres, Paris, 1908, pp. 118-21). Hettlinger, described in a letterof 8 May 1793 (actually a laissez-passer to the Garde nationale at Sèvres, copy kept in the factory archive, see n. 6), as '5 pieds 2p. Cheveaux chatains et coupé, presque pas de sourcils, yeux gris-bleu, visage maigre et pâle', had a remarkable sideline in feather pictures, which he sold before, during and after the Revolution (for an example on a table of c. 1790 purchased by Paul I of Russia, see Treasures of the Czars, exh. at J. Kugel, Paris, 1998, cat. compiled by A. Chouvalov and A. Kugel, no. 182).
A portrait of Hettlinger in profile to right preserved in the archives at the factory dated 1785 by Pithou le jeune (for Nicolas-Pierre Pithou, jeune, see Savill, 1988, III, pp. 1060-63), engraved by N. Thomas may be the source for this medallion. It shows him in an oval frame with a ribbon and laurel wreath emphasising his status and accompanied by what might loosely be called tools of his trade. At the right are a retort, a ?brazier, an inkwell and feather pen, a scroll, a pair of dividers and a scroll with the rubric MINERALOGIE. At the right are three volumes, one open to show the title (HISTOIRE) NATURELLE DE PLINE, signalling both that he was a man of learning and that he was versed in science. Another portrait preserved at the factory (MNS Archives de Sèvres, R. 183), which is anonymous and undated, is a pencil half-length black chalk study of him in gentleman's attire, his head turned slightly to left, probably done from the life. A terracotta bust of Hettlinger attributed to Henry Victor Rougier, sculptor and modeller at Sèvres 1783-94, is thought to date from 1790, the same year in which the production of the medallions is recorded (Musée national de Céramique, inv. 2822, acquired 1839, illustrated by Lechevallier-Chevignard, 1908 [see n. 8 above].
Text taken from BM Merlin database curator's comments, added 20.10.2016:
Hettlinger was inspector and later director of Sèvres factory. Medallion probably based on drawing by Pithou le jeune, another factory employee,
engraved by N.Thomas, which is kept at the factory. Shows the Swiss scientist surrounded by books and tools. Sculptor Jacques August Collet worked at Sèvres 1784-1809. This medallion is one of only twelve known to have been made, probably for sitter's family. Comparable examples in Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Musée des Suisses à l'étranger, Château de Penthes, Pregny, Switzerland, Paris, private collection, and sold at Christie's, South Kensington, London. There is a plaster at the Musée national de Céramique de Sèvres, signed and dated as this example. A similar medallion with a female portrait is signed and dated as above, see 2002,0714.1
For a medal cabinet with panels of featherwork by Hettlinger, see Revue du Louvre 3/1987, Christian Baulez, 'Un médallier de Louis XIV à Versailles', pp.172-5
- Not on display
- Good; chipped edges; neck crack; firecrack on lower right running under truncation.
- Acquisition date
- Britain, Europe and Prehistory
- Registration number