- Museum number
Group of Seated Toper and Campanion; soft-paste porcelain with a lead-glaze; flat unglazed base; perhaps hand-modelled; man seated, ankles crossed, wears a three-cornered hat and long jacket, in his right hand a waisted[?] tankard; (his left hand is outstretched and may well have once held something as the index finger is broken and a projecting triangular object near his feet has been damaged); opposite him a woman, in a low-cut dress, is seated with head turned left away from him; she holds a handled jug on her lap; maker's mark.
- Production date
- 1756-1758 (circa)
Height: 13.50 centimetres
- Curator's comments
- Text from A. Dawson 'French Porcelain, A catalogue of the British Museum Collection, London, 1994:
The paste, which is white and obviously lacks plasticity, the clear glaze, and the weight of the figures, which are heavy for their size, are all similar to the group signed by Renault (cat. 199). Both groups exhibit black specks, pin-holes and signs of firecracking.
Bacchic groups consisting of five figures from Orléans were sold by the Paris merchant Hennique in December 1768 for 60 livres (Chavagnac and Grolier, 1906, p. 377). Single figures (biscuit or glazed) were sold from the factory itself for as little as 50 sols or at most 1 écu if perfect (Dr Garsonnin, 'Manufactures de porcelaine,' Memoires de la societé archéologique et historique de l'Orléanais. Vol. 35, 1919, p. 316; it must be remembered that regional variations in currency existed in France at this period, and modern approximations are therefore diffiicult.)
A white glazed soft-paste porcelain figure of a seated boy wearing a hat with a broken doll on his lap is incised with a rather similar L to that found on the Museum group. It is perhaps also the work of Louis (Musée national de Céramique, Sèvres, inv. 133359.11.14 cm).
Jean Louis, the factory's chief(and in its early days only) modeller, is recorded as living in the rue du Bourdon Blanc, parish of Saint-Euverte, on 7 April 1756 when his conditions of work were legally registered at the Châtelet, Orléans (Chavagnac and Grollier, 1906, pp. 374-5). He was to work on models and 'autres ouvrages de son état qui luy seront demandés' at a salary of 1,248 livres a year from the month of May. His hours of work were from seven o'clock in the morning to seven o'clock in the evening, breaking between noon and and two o'clock from 15 March to 30 September. During the winter he began work at daybreak. for every day's absence 4 livres 10 sols would be withheld. He was to train apprentices, and if he gave them drawing lessons outside working hours was to be paid either by the owners of the factory or by the apprentices' parents. He was forbidden to go and work elsewhere without the express permission of the owners, and they could not dismiss him without granting him this permission. He was to be paid every fortnight (or quinzaine).
However, by the end of 1757 Gérault was finding Louis unsatisfactory and was harassing him by depriving him of his own room, docking his pay, and threatening to put him on piecework. Louis lodged a complaint to this effect with the intendant, Barentin (Charles-Amable-Honoré Barentin, chevallier de Hardivilliers, les Bellesrueries et autres lieux, Conseiller du Roy en ses conseils 1703-62, intendant d'Orléans from June/July 1747, named Conseiller d'Etat, 1760, m. 1724 Marie-Catherine Lefèvre d'Ormesson, niece of Chancellor d'Aguesseau. For further details see Dictionaire de Biographie Française, Vol. v, Paris, 1951, p. 434). Louis stated (The 'Supplique de Jean Louis' is quoted in full in E. Piot, 'Etudes Céramiques, la manufacture royale de faiance fine et de porcelaine établie â Orléans en 1753, 'Le Cabinet de l'Amateur, no. 25, Paris, 1863, p. 127) that the owner (entrepreneur) of the Sceaux factory had summoned him from the Strasbourg factory. The owners (intéressés) of the Sceaux concern, who established the factory at Orléans, touched by the ill treatment of Louis at Strasbourg, rescued him and employed him under proper conditions. Louis complained that although Le Roy had treated him according to the agreement made, Gérault, once he became sole owner of Orléans, tried to economise on wages, and did not abide by the agreement.
In turn Gérault replied at length on 7 December 1757 (Piot, op. cit., p. 128 and Chavagne and Grollier, 1906, p. 375). Louis, he said, was 'long en ses opérations, par des tremblements qui lui survenus aux mains, mais encore par sa mauvaise foi â tirer en longueur les ouvrages que Gérault lui commande et â les rendre imparfaits, ce qui oblige â les faire recommencer' (slow on account of trembling in his hands as well as through his ill will, drawing out work ordered by Gérault and spoiling it so that it had to be redone). In addition he stayed away from his studio, working on his own account for certain clients. Some specific complaints about 'oilles simples ou chargées d'ornements', which were too large, 'terrines â godrons trop profundes de 2 ou 3 doigts, des bulliers en forme de bateau vilains, des écuelles, tant â ornements qu'â reliefs, dont les couvercles était beaucoup trop petits' show that he worked on broth bowls and covers, fluted tureens, boat-shaped oil-casters, covered bowls, sometimes with reliefs, all of which are criticised. His figures were said to be 'lourdes et sans distinction maigré les dessins bien faits et légers qu'on lui avait fournis'. Louis apparently left the factory in 1758 (According to Dr Garsonin, op. cit., p. 312. No reference is given to substantiate this statement).
- Not on display
- Man's index finger on left hand broken; triangular object near his feet damaged.
- Acquisition date
- Britain, Europe and Prehistory
- Registration number