41
41
Louis-Claude Vassé, 1716 - 1772
PORTRAIT OF ANNE CLAUDE PHILIPPE DE THUBIÈRES (1692-1765), COUNT OF CAYLUS, CIRCA 1767
Estimate
50,00070,000
JUMP TO LOT
41
Louis-Claude Vassé, 1716 - 1772
PORTRAIT OF ANNE CLAUDE PHILIPPE DE THUBIÈRES (1692-1765), COUNT OF CAYLUS, CIRCA 1767
Estimate
50,00070,000
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Excellence Française

|
Paris

Louis-Claude Vassé, 1716 - 1772
PORTRAIT OF ANNE CLAUDE PHILIPPE DE THUBIÈRES (1692-1765), COUNT OF CAYLUS, CIRCA 1767
bronze medallion, brown patina; in a gilt wood frame
Diam. (bronze) 51,5 cm; 20 1/3 in.
Read Condition Report Read Condition Report

Provenance

Central piece of the funeral monument of the Count of Calyus, erected in 1769 in the church of Saint-Germain-l'Auxerrois, Paris; sent to the Museum for the French Monuments in December 1793, when the monument was dismantled during the Revolution; Paris sale, Drouot, 22 June 1988, acquire by the prensent owner; private collection, Paris.

Exhibited

L’Antiquité rêvée : innovations et résistances au XVIIIe siècle, musée du Louvre, Paris, 2 décembre 2010 – 14 février 2011, n° 25 (ill.).

Literature

Literature:
A. Lenoir, Notice historique des Monumens des Arts, réunis au Dépôt National rue des Petits Augustins, Paris, an IV (1795), pp. 22-23, no. 101 ; S. Lami, Dictionnaire des sculpteurs de l'école française du XVIIIe siècle, Paris, 1911 (reed. 1970), p. 378 ; G. Faroult, C. Leribault, G. Scherf, (dir.), L'Antiquité rêvée : innovations et résistance au XVIIIe siècle, exh. cat. Louvre museum, Paris, 2010, pp. 154-155, no. 25 (ill.) ; X. Dufestel, Caylus mécène du Roi. Collectionner les Antiquités au XVIIIe siècle, Paris, 2002.

Related literature:
D. Diderot, Salon de 1767, Oxford, vol. III, 1983 ; pp. 323-324 ; E. Schwartz, Les sculptures de l'école des Beaux-Arts de Paris, Paris, 2003, p. 81 (ill. p. 122).

Catalogue Note

“The Comte de Caylus is beautiful, vigorous, noble, resolutely executed, well modelled, well expressed; flesh beautiful surfaces, pure line, skin, wrinkles, [this doesnt read well - let’s discuss] the vicissitudes of old age all marvellous. Nature has been exaggerated, but so discreetly that the likeness has not been compromised by the dignity superimposed on it. The long folds, those pockets [better: folds of flesh] of flesh hanging under the chin of old men, retain a kind of softness, they’re not hard like wood but fleshy.” (Diderot, op. cit. pp. 323-324) Thus Diderot describes the effigy of his late rival. . But behind the apparent admiration, he was paying a last backhanded compliment to the memory of his aging enemy.

Anne-Claude-Philippe de Thubières, the Count of Caylus, was the son of the niece of Madame de Maintenon. He was raised in the traditions of the French aristocracy and for a brief period followed a military career. After a period of more than two years in Italy, Caylus returned to Paris in 1717 via Constantinople. He became an influential figure in artistic circles: he was a frequent visitor at the hôtel particulier of Pierre Crozat, the financier, and at the salon of Madame Geoffrin.. Caylus was a friend of the collector and print dealer Mariette, as well as of Watteau, who introduced him to engraving. As an honorary member of the Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture, as well as of the Académie des Inscriptions, Count Caylus’s influence was felt in the highest echelons of the artistic establishment, up to the directorship of the Bâtiments du Roi, Lenormant de Tournehem, and then Marigny. As a patron of the arts, his support of sculptors such as Bouchardon, Pajou, Saly and Vassé was particularly notable. He was a passionate Hellenist and played a decisive role in integrating a taste for Greek art into the artistic scene, as shown in his Recueil d’Antiquité (Compendium of Antiquity), his major seven-volume work.

According to his wishes, an ancient porphyry urn acquired from the Bailiff of Breteuil would hold his ashes. He wrote in his will that those close to him would “find in (his) garden in Paris a porphyry tomb that he (would) not give to the king. If they were to use it for this purpose, it should bear no trace of paganism, and it may decorate any church.” (G. Faroult, C. Leribault, G. Scherf, op. cit.). In 1766, the Marquis of Lignerac, Caylus’s heir, requested of the Académie that Soufflot, the architect, and Vassé, the sculptor, be entrusted with building the monument that would hold the porphyry urn. On 23 November 1769, a service in honour of Caylus was held in a chapel of the church of Saint Germain l’Auxerrois, where the monument had been erected. It was dismantled during the French Revolution but is known to us through descriptions made at the time and from a print by Pierre Chenu (Bibliothèque nationale de France, inv. no. Ef 3; fig. 2). The ancient urn today in the Louvre (in. no. MR 905) was placed on a pedestal of black veined marble and topped with an oil lamp. Our bronze medallion stood atop the monument, above the epitaph Caylus himself had written “Cy git Caylus” (Here lies Caylus). In a letter to Falconet written on 16 August 1767, Diderot penned a caustic witticism in response to the epitaph of his rival: ‘Here lies an antiquarian bitter and brusque: / Ah! How well he is lodged in this jug étrusque. (G. Faroult, C. Leribault, G. Scherf, op. cit.).

The son of the sculptor Antoine-François Vassé, Louis-Claude studied under Pierre Puget and Edme Bouchardon. He won the Grand Prix de Rome for sculpture in 1739 and travelled to Rome, where he stayed at least until 1745. He joined the Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture in 1748, and was made a full member with his Berger Endormi (Sleeping Shepherd), which is in the Louvre Museum (inv. no. MR 2111). He held the post of assistant professor, and then professor at the Académie, and exhibited his works at the Salons from 1748 to 1761. Although he was the protégé of Count Caylus and–with the aristocrat’s help–worked for influential clients, his short temper and all-devouring ambition earned him the antipathy of his fellow artists. In addition to several royal commissions, Vassé also worked in Russia on commissions for Frederick the Great. He specialized in funerary monuments–as attested to by our medallion–including that of Stanislas Leczinski, which was only completed after the artist’s death by his pupil, Félix Lecomte.

Our medallion, saved from the destruction of the Revolution, shows a perfect marriage of the idealization of antique profiles and the realism that stems from observation from life. Vassé portrays the aging features of Caylus with subtle details such as the prominent vein at the temple, the wrinkles across the forehead, the flesh hanging from the chin, and the folds at the nape of the neck. The exceptional chiselwork and the hammering of the surface, accentuated by a deep patina, highlight the effigy of the scholar of the antiquarian.  Only two other examples are known: a marble signed and dated from the Salon of 1767 (ENSBA, Paris, inv. no. MU 7603; fig. 1) and a terracotta at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France that was accidentally destroyed. The Année Littéraire journal commented on the reception of the medallion of Caylus at the 1967 Salon, saying “The portraits of Elizabeth of Russia and of Caylus are notable for their resemblance […] In the first, Vassé’s elegant chiselling is admirable, but it is chiefly Caylus who draws the attention of the public and of the connoisseurs” (X. Dufestel, op. cit., p. 32).

Excellence Française

|
Paris