A pair of gilt-bronze-mounted Urals red jasper ewers, by François Rémond Louis XVI, circa 1780-1785
- gilt-bronze, jasperware
- each 48cm. high; 1ft. 7in.
Arcadi Gaydamak, Russian Empire Furniture, Paris 2000, pp. 248-249.
Daniëlle Kisluk-Grosheide and Jeffrey Munger, The Wrightsman Galleries for French Decorative Arts, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2010, New York, pp. 138, illustrated p. 139.
Peter Hughes, The Wallace Collection, Catalogue of Furniture, Vol. III, London, 1996, p.1237 no. 244 ( F132-F133), p. 1252-1253 no. 247 (F134-135) and no. 248 p.1256 to 1257 (F130-131), pp. 1394-1397, (F352-353).
Musée de la Vie romantique, Chefs-d'oeuvre de la galerie nationale Tretiakov, Moscow, no. 34.
Anne L. Poulet and Guilhem Scherf, Clodion 1738-1814, Musée du Louvre, Paris, 17th March-29th June 1992, Paris, 1992, pp. 218-219, fig. 40.
The model of these hereto unrecorded magnificent and opulent ewers combine Russian Urals red jasper, together with the finest French quality cast and chased gilt-bronze mounts, dates to the early years of neo-classicism, with the serpents on the vase echoing those upon a vase from the Sèvres manufactory dated 1766, `bacheliers à serpens'. Their execution can be placed to around 1780 for the reasons given below.
The closest comparison to this pair of ewers, albeit in a different material, that being bronze and gilt-bronze, is a pair of identically mounted vases in the Bedroom at Peterhof Palace, in Russia, illustrated by Gaydamak, op. cit., pp. 248-249, reproduced here in fig.1.
In addition, the predilection amongst Russian aristocracy for these types of mounted hardstone vases, can be seen in a painting by Jean-Laurent Mosnier in the Trentyakov Gallery, Moscow, of Empress Elisabeth Alexeïevna (1779-1826) reproduced here in fig.2., where there is a vase depicted in dark mottled red and white marble, with identical mounts to those on the present pair of ewers, which may suggest that they were all formerly part of the same garniture.
Another close comparison to this pair of ewers, although in gilt-bronze and bronze, is a pair of ewers in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston which were attributed as being after a design by Simon Boizot (1743-1809) (60.243-4)-reproduced here in fig.3. They were amongst a group of late 18th century objects that were acquired in Paris by James Swan, the patriot and financier, (1734-1830) and shipped to Boston by 1794. The attribution of the Boston Museum vases has been modified several times. In the early 1960's they were attributed to the Feuchères or Etienne Forestier. During the 1980's they were attributed to Gouthière, after designs by Simon Boizot (1743-1809).
However, in the light of current scholarship, with their distinctive arabesque acanthus scrolled handles and the frieze band after Clodion depicting winged infants playing with swags of flowers and due to their close comparisons with other gilt-bronzes attributed to Rémond, these ewers can safely be attributed on stylistic grounds to François Rémond (1745/47-1812), maître in 1774, one of the foremost bronziers of his time in Paris and the chief supplier of ormolu to the marchand-mercier Dominique Daguerre.
Our ewers are also related to a pair of candelabra in bronze and gilt-bronze with an identical gilt-bronze frieze after Clodion, now in the Wallace Collection, London, illustrated by Hughes, op. cit., p. 1237, no. 244 (F132) and also to the candelabra illustrated pp. 1252-1253, no 247 (F134 and F135).
The central band around the frieze is a common device often used by Rémond. It represents `the sacrifice of Love' after the Clodion terracotta low-relief in the Louvre `Le Sacrifice de la chèvre' –reproduced here in figs.4 & 5., inspired in turn by William van Opstal's ivory sculpture `Drunken Silenius with Three Children'. One can find this frieze on a pair of candelabra bases in the Wallace Collection, London, see Hughes, op. cit., F140-141, (no. 250) and F146-147 (no. 251).This decorative device would appear to be an exclusive model to Rémond, and strengthens the attribution as he appears to have chased and gilded such friezes in 1782 for Dominique Daguerre, see Hughes, op. cit. p. 1254:
` Du mars 1782/ Doit. M. Daguerre/ pour deux bas-relief pour girandole ciselure monture....42/ pour dorure des deux bas-relief et avoir redoré les pieds de girandole 40'.
A number of other variants of related models of candelabra by Rémond are known with a similar frieze after Clodion. A similar pair, with blue-enamelled vases, female heads to the sides and differences to the shaft, said to have come from the collection of Alfred de Rothschild, is in the Huntington Collection, San Marino, California, illustrated by R. Wark, French Decorative Art in the Huntington Collection, Pasadena, 1979, p. 78, fig. 99. A similar pair at Fontainebleau bought second-hand in 1804 from the dealer Legendre and placed in the Salon de l'Empereur, is illustrated, J. -P. Samoyault, Musée National du Château de Fontainebleau, Catalogue des collections de mobilier, Paris, 1989, vol. I, p. 152, no.129.
Finally, the treatment of the acanthus and foliate sprays on the handles of the ewers is very close to the treatment of those upon the candlebranches of the celebrated chandelier by François Rémond, circa 1785, now in the Wrightsman Galleries in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, illustrated by D. Kisluk-Grosheide et al., op. cit., p. 139 (1972.242), reproduced here in fig.6.
Although several of these comparable examples have been attributed to a group of interrelated craftsmen, it is impossible to discern a conclusive attribution, particularly as bronziers such as Pierre Gouthière and François Rémond are known to have sub-contracted work out between each other and to have shared the designs of sculptors such as Louis-Simon Boizot.
François Rémond (1747-1812, Maître 1774) and Dominique Daguerre:
François Rémond was one of the most celebrated ciseleurs-doreurs during the Louis XVI period, working for a distinguished clientèle which included, amongst others, Queen Marie-Antoinette, her brother-in-law the comte d'Artois, the duc de Penthièvre and others. Thanks to the emergence of Rémond's ledgers in 1983, it has been possible to associate this talented and prolific craftsman with works of his which, over the years, had been erroneously attributed to his contemporaries, notably to Gouthière. The ledgers reveal that he received commissions from the most important cabinetmakers of the day, such as Riesener and Roentgen, and from the leading marchand-mer ciers, such as Granchez and Julliot, and particularly from Dominique Daguerre. His deliveries between February 1778 and August 1792 amounted to approximately 920,000 livres. Other important clients of Rémond included the comte d' Artois, for whom commissions included the ormolu provided for the Cabinet Turc at Versailles, the duc de Penthièvre, the Princesse de Lamballe and the Princesse Kinsky,