TO BE SOLD ON THE INSTRUCTIONS OF THE TRUSTEES OF THE BEDFORD ESTATES
Acquired either by Francis Russell, 5th Duke of Bedford (1765-1802) or John Russell, 6th Duke of Bedford (1766-1839), and thence by descent
Illustrated in situ in the Entrance Hall, Woburn Abbey, The Antique Collector, June 1956, p.85, (see illus. fig.1).
Illustrated in John Whitehead, Mobilier et Arts décoratifs en France au XVIII siècle, Paris, 1992, p.157
Unfortunately few papers survive relating to the collections of the 5th and 6th Dukes as they had them destroyed and it is not therefore possible to determine which Duke was responsible for bringing the present lot into the collection. The 6th Duke was known to have purchased items form the marchand Lignereux in 1803 and it is possible that the present lot was acquired by him from this source.
The inspiration for the present model appears to derive from a drawing by Joseph-Marie Vien, of 1763, drawing on the antique, illustrated in Svend Eriksen, Early Neo- Classicism in France, 1974, pl. 370. and also from Jean-Henri Eberts, editor of Le Monument du Costume, and was first advertised in L`Avantcourer in September 1773. Only a single engraving of the advertisement, now in the University of Warsaw appears to have survived, illustrated in D.O. Kisluk-Grosheide, W. Koeppe, W. Rieder, European Furniture in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Highlights of the Collection, New Haven and London, 2006, pp.166-7. In Eberts`s engraving the athénienne is shown as a perfume burner, although some were used as jardinères. Other design sources can also be see in Giovanni Piranesi`s published etchings, pl.967. and 985 illustrated in John Wilton-Ely, Giovanni Battista Piranesi, The Complete Etchings, 2 vols, 1994, vol II, p.1046 and 1067.
One of the earliest examples of an athénienne may have been supplied to Madame du Barry ( 1743-1793) at Louveciennes in 1774. A carved giltwood athénienne after the design by Eberts is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art New York, (1993.355.1), illustrated op. cit. p.167.
These athéniennes typify the sophisticated taste of the second half of the 18th century and early 19th century. A pair of a similar form now in the collection of H.M. Queen and originally part of the collection of George IV supplied to him when Prince of Wales for Carlton House, possibly by Dominique Daquerre and which bear affinities to the work of Pierre Gouthière and Francois Rémond can be seen illustrated in Carlton House, The Past Glories of George IV`s Palace, 1991, pl. XXXVI, p.209.
A pair of very similar athéniennes in green granite and decorated with lion`s masks, by repute formed part of the collection of the celebrated French collector Jean-Baptiste de Machault d`Arnouville, (see fig.2). He was one of the most important men of Louis XV`s reign. Born in 1701 in a rich parliamentary family and during the course of his illustrious career held several ministries including being Ministre de la Marine and Contrôleur Général des Finances He was also a great friend of Madame de Pompadour. He subsequently died in jail during the French revolution in 1794. These athéniennes subsequently passed into the collection of Léonce Melchior de Vogüe (1805-1877) who inherited a substantial part of the former collection of de Machault d`Arnouville through his wife, born Henriette de Machault. Subsequently they were sold in an auction in Versailles on 1st April 1990 for 1.580.000 FF.
A similar single athénienne with a later bowl was sold Sotheby`s Paris, Collection Europèenne, June 14 2006, lot 114.
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