- Museum number
Figure; 'Le Sabot Cassé'; soft-paste biscuit porcelain; press-moulded; young girl seated on a rocky mound, wearing a low-cut dress and jacket with half-sleeves; on her lap is a 'sabot' at which a child is seated by her side, wearing a head-dress, is staring sadly, his hands crossed over his left knee; her right hand hangs down to restrain a cascade of flowers falling from a basket; maker's mark.
- Production date
Height: 17 centimetres
- Curator's comments
- Dawson 1994
Modelled by Etienne-Maurice Falconet in 1760 after François Boucher's ‘Paysanne assise dans un paysage et enfant dormant’, engraved by Demarteau.¹ An engraving by Menil after Falconet ‘fils’ in reverse to this group is kept in the archive at the Sèvres factory, but its date of acquisition is unknown. It is after the biscuit figure. Plaster moulds are preserved in the factory archive, and there is a fired clay model at the Musée national de Céramique, Sèvres. A model and a mould were each valued at 24 livres in an inventory dated January 1761 preserved at the factory.
A payment of 27 livres to Leclere, a sculptor, is recorded in the ‘Travaux extraordinaires’ or record of overtime work on the group for June 1760,² and in the following months a number of other sculptors were paid piecework rates for work on it. There seems little doubt that in this instance the incised F stands for Falconet, head of the sculpture workshop from 1757-66. The first sale is noted under the date 18 October 1760, when a group was sold for 48 livres.³ The group was always sold with its companion, ‘La Feuille à l'envers’. Between 1760 and 1776 each cost 60 livres, falling to 54 livres between 1777 and 1787 and 48 livres from 1787. The inventory made after the death of Madame de Pompadour in 1764 records under 'Porcelaines rapportées de Versailles': “Un grouppe [sic], aussy d'après Mr Boucher: la ‘Maîtresse d'ecolle’ [sic]; le ‘Sabot cassé’ et la ‘Feuille à l'envers’; prisé quatre vingt dix livres”.⁴
Far from being “a charming specimen of the sentimental ‘paysannerie’ admired by many of the sophisticated nobility of the time” as it was described by Geoffrey Wills,⁵ this group like many others made at Sèvres has an erotic significance. The 'broken clog' actually stands for the loss of virginity. The companion group ‘La Feuille à l'envers’ is similarly symbolic.
The subject is painted on an undated ‘vase cornet’ in the Philadelphia Museum of Art, probably made around 1763-8.⁶ The same subject was treated at the Sceaux faïence factory, although the figures were juxtaposed. An example was apparently on the market at Versailles on 3 December 1972.⁷ This group was in current production at Sevres in 1967.⁸
1. Jean-Richard, Pierrette, ‘L’œuvre gravé de François Boucher dans la collection Edmond Rothschild’, Paris, 1978, no. 790; the sabot and the basket are not shown in the engraving.
2. MNS, Archives de Sèvres, F5.
3. MNS, Archives de Sèvres, Vy 3, f. 30.
4. Cordey, Jean, ‘Inventaire des biens de Madames de Pompadour rédigé après son décès’, Paris, 1939, p. 61, no. 668.
5. G. Wills, Some French and English Porcelain at Woburn Abbey, ‘Apollo’, Vol. LXIII, no. 371, January 1956, p. 16.
6. Brunet, Marcelle and Préaud, Tamara, ‘Sèvres, des origines à nos jours’, Fribourg, 1978, no. 132.
7. An example sold at Versailles, 3 December 1973, Lot 22, is recorded by D. Menager, ‘Catalogue raisonné des biscuits de porcelaine de Vincennes et de Sèvres au XVIIIe siècle dans les collections du Musée national de Céramique, Sèvres’, unpublished ‘mémoire’ for the École du Louvre, April 1985, Vol. II, kept at the Archives de Sèvres.
8. Illustrated ‘Cahiers’, no. 39, 1967 in a supplement on biscuit porcelains for sale at the factory. It measured 19 cm in height.
1) Sèvres, Musée national de Céramique, inv. 22 451, incised F; inv. 15 368 Ujfalvy-Bourdon Collection, see C.-E. de Ujfalvy-Bourdon, ‘Les Biscuits de Porcelaine’, Paris, 1893, p. 9.
2) ‘La porcelaine française de 1673 à 1914, la porcelaine contemoraine de Limoges’, Pavillon de Marsan, Paris, November-December 1929, cat. no. 835 (with ‘La Feuille à l'envers) from the Fenaille Collection; sold Paris, Hôtel Drouot, 12 June 1941, Lot 42 and Sotheby's, ; May 1970, Lot 41.
3) Bedfordshire, Woburn Abbey, unmarked, see Wills, Geoffrey, Some French and English Porcelain at Woburn Abbey, ‘Apollo’, Vol. LXIII, no. 371, January 1956, no. 371, p. 16, fig. V.
4) Sotheby's, 1 July 1980, Lot 54.
5) Sweden, Stockholm, Nationalmuseum, inv. C.xv, 1.012, Ivan Traugott loan, see ‘Bulletin de la Société des Amis de Vincennes’, December 1939, no. 16, p. 221.
6) USA, private collection, see Ruth Berges, ‘Collectors' Choice of Porcelain and Faïence’, South Brunswick and New York, 1967, no. 256.
7) USA, New York, Smithsonian Institution, Cooper-Hewitt Museum, illus. R. Berges, Falconet et Sèvres, ‘Antique Collector’, April 1988, Vol. 59, no. 4, pp. 74-9, fig. 3.
8) USA, New York, Metropolitan Museum, inv. 52.2.2, incised F, see C. Duval et al., Figures from Life: Porcelain Sculpture from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, ca. 1740- 1780, exhibition March 1992 - January 1993, Museum of Fine Arts, St Petersburg, Florida; Dixon Gallery and Gardens, Tennessee; George R. Gardiner Museum of Ceramic Art, Toronto, no. 36.
9) USA, New York, Christie's, 6 March 1981, Lot 279 and 1 December 1979, Lot 172 (Mrs J.W. Christner Collection).
10) USA, New York, Sotheby's, 11 April 1980, Lot 248, formerly Mrs H. Dupuy Collection, sold Parke Bernet, New York, 2 April 1948, Lot 109.
11) USA, New York, Sotheby's, 21 April 1982, Lot 129.
12) USA, New York, Christie's, The Elizabeth Parke Firestone Collection, Part 1, 21-22 March 1991, Lot 134 (with ‘La Feuille à l'envers’), incised F.
Literature: Franks, Sir Augustus Wollaston, ‘Catalogue of a Collection of Continental Porcelain’, London, 1896, no. 592; Honey, William B., ‘French Porcelain of the 18th Century’, London, 1950, pl. 66, p. 36; Savage, George, ‘Seventeenth and Eighteenth-Century French Porcelain’, London, 1960, pl. 71a; Wilfred J. Sainsbury, Sèvres Soft Paste Biscuit Figures Part I, ‘Apollo’, Vol. LI, no. 303, May 1950, p. 136.
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. 7, no. 543.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
2015 4 Nov-2016 28 Mar, Germany, Frankfurt am Main, Liebieghaus Skulpturensammlung - Stadtische Galerie Liebieghaus, Dangerous Liaisons
- Acquisition date
- Britain, Europe and Prehistory
- Registration number