Ferdinand Barbedienne (1810 - 1892)

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Ferdinand Barbedienne (1810 - 1892)

A Pair of Napoléon III Gilt And Silvered-Bronze-Mounted Rouge Griotte Marble Vases And Pedestals

France, Circa 1867

REF No. B72440

Each signed 'Claudius Popelin', the cast medallions monogrammed 'EM', on leaf-cast socle and circular foot, the pedestals monogrammed 'EM'.


Height :210 cm | 82⁵/₈ in
Width :47 cm | 18¹/₂ in
Depth :37 cm | 14⁵/₈ in


A Pair of Napoléon III Gilt And Silvered-Bronze-Mounted Rouge Griotte Marble Vases And Pedestals, by Ferdinand Barbedienne. France, Circa 1867

Designed By Louis-Consant Sévin, The Enamel By Claudius Popelin.

These exhibition quality vases on pedestals are magnificent examples of nineteenth century industrial art, whereby the great art industrial manufacturers of the day lavished unlimited budgets and technical resources at the feet of artists to create works of art of unparalleled technical accomplishment.

Each lidded vase flanked by winged caryatid handles and fronted by enamel portrait roundels titled 'LA VENEZIANA SIGNORILE' and 'LA ROMANA BELLISSIMA' each signed 'Claudius Popelin' and applied to the reverse with cast medallions monogrammed 'EM', on leaf-cast socle and circular foot, the pedestals en suite, each with spreading entablature centred by a shield monogrammed 'EM', above a tapering body fronted by ribbon-tied fruiting swags, over a leaf-cast foot-rim

'En cette même année [1867], Barbedienne était venu trouver Claudius Popelin et lui avait demandé deux émaux d'allure décorative. C’est le premier essai que le grand bronzier fit de l'émail peint. Popelin composa pour lui deux figures de femmes à la manière italienne: Rome et Venise. Elles furent montées sur la panse de deux grands vases en rouge antique, dont les anses étaient formées de chimères ailées. Constant Sévin en avait fait le modèle.’ (Gazette des Beaux-Arts, (Paris), 1893, Tome 10, Period III; pp. 62-63)

'Deux grands vases en marbre rouge antique, enchassés dans des métaux superbes, avec médaillons peints sur émail par le maître Claudius Popelin. (Luchet, Auguste. L'Art industriel à l'Exposition Universelle de 1867 - mobilier, vêtements, aliments, (Paris), 1868. )

Louis-Constant Sévin
Louis-Constant Sévin (d. 1892) was head of design at Maison Barbedienne – France’s greatest fondeur ornamentaliste. These vases and pedestals are characteristic of his designs for Barbedienne during the 1860s. Compare a monumental Renaissance style mirror designed by Sévin and the sculptor Albert-Ernest Carrier-Belleuse shown at the 1867 Paris Exposition Universelle, bought by Earl of Dudley and now in the Bowes Museum, Co. Durham (another mirror of the same model sold Christie’s, London, 6 March 2014, lot 10 £218,500).

These vases and pedestals are recorded as dating to 1867 and it is probable that they were also displayed at the Exposition Universelle of that year. By the 1880s they are photographed in the Picture Gallery of the John T. Martin house, 28 Pierrepont Street, Brooklyn, New York. It can be speculated that John T. Martin bought them from the 1867 exposition.

The portrait roundels of ‘La Veneziana Signorile’ and ‘La Romana Bellissima’ fronting the vases are by Claudius Popelin (1825-1892) in the style of the Limousin artists of the Renaissance. Interestingly a cabinet by the ébéniste Auguste-Hyppolyte Sauvrezy in the Musée d’Orsay, Paris (OAO 1180), which was shown at the 1867 Paris Exposition universelle, is decorated with very similar enamel portrait roundels by Popelin of women with banners above titled ‘La Benevolenza’ and ‘La Generosita’. Popelin was a French enameller, painter and writer who studied under François-Edouard Picot and Ary Scheffer. He began his career as a history painter, and from 1852 to 1862, he sent paintings based on French and Italian Renaissance subjects to the Salon. From 1860, however, his study of the 16th century inclined him towards the decorative arts, and though initially producing faience, he preferred the delicate technique of painting on enamel, which he learnt from Alfred Meyer (1832–1904).

The portraits here of Roman and Venetian women are exemplary of Popelin's early technique whereby the intense colours, including a violet of his own invention, are enhanced by the sparkle of silver foil. His success resulted in orders from manufacturers, and his enamels were used to decorate furniture, bronzes, silver and gold objects and bookbinding plates. From 1863 he devoted the next 30 years to the art of enamelling. Popelin was an erudite artist, a bibliophile and a poet and was one of the circle of artists who met at the salons of Princess Mathilde Bonaparte. He liked to assemble several enamel plaques together within the same frame to develop a single allegorical or historical theme, see his portrait of Napoléon III (1865; Paris, Musée d’Orsay DO 1983 70) which also includes portraits of Charlemagne, Napoléon I and others. The whereabouts of his masterpiece, Triumph of Truth, measuring 170 x 150 cm. and exhibited at the Salon of 1867 is unknown.

France, Circa 1867.

The vases: 36 in. (91.5 cm.) high; 19 in. (48.5 cm.) wide; 15 ½ in. (39 cm.) deep
The pedestals: 47 ¼ in. (120 cm.) high; 16 in. (40.5 cm.) wide; 13 ¼ in. (34 cm.) deep


Ferdinand Barbedienne (1810-1892) was the inspiration and driving force behind one of the most important French art foundries. He pioneered the use of mounts and, more commonly, bronze sculpture including figures and animals. Barbedienne produced catalogues of bronze reproductions of Greek and Roman classical sculpture and experimented with champlève and cloisonné enamels during the third quarter of the century. Barbedienne exhibited several pieces of furniture at the 1855 Paris Exhibition including an ormolu mounted oak dressing table and an ormolu mounted ebony veneered bookcase. Both pieces were executed in his favoured Renaissance revival style for furniture. Furniture with mounts signed by Barbedienne is extremely rare.

The Barbedienne foundry handled the casting of numerous national monuments and architectural schemes. Ferdinand Barbedienne himself also took an active part in the promotion of contemporary sculpture and became one of the founders for Davis d'Angers' medallions as well as much of Rude's sculpture.

His signature varied from hand written capitals to stamp in capitals, usually F. Barbedienne, Fondeur or BARBEDIENNE PARIS.
In 1839 Barbedienne collaborated with the inventor Achille Collas who had succeeded in enlarging and reducing works of art to arbitrary sizes by a simple mathematical calculation, allowing the accurate reduction of classical and contemporary marbles for the purpose of reproduction in bronze. In 1850 Barbedienne was commissioned to furnish the Paris town hall for which he was awarded with the 'medaille d' honneur' at the Paris Exposition Universelle in 1855.

Barbedienne's awards:
Paris, 1878; 'Grand Prix', 'Grande Médaille d'Or', 'Diplôme d'honneur' , and 28 'Médailles de Coopérateurs'.
Vienna 1873; 2 'Diplômes d'Honneur', 'Médailles de Progrès', and 25 'Médailles de Coopérateurs'.
Paris 1867: 'Jure Rapporteur (Hors Concours)'.
London 1862; 3 Medals for Excellence.
Paris 1855; 'Grande Médaille d'Honneur'.
London 1851; 2 Council Medals.

Makers Bibliography:
Barbedienne, Ferdinand, Catalogue des Bronzes d'art 1886 , Fonderie d'art Français: Val d'Osne, Fonderie de Tusey, Antoine-Louis Barye, Fonderie Rudier, Charles Crozatier, Ferdinand Barbedienne, Livres Groupe, (Paris) 2010
Mestdagh, Camille and Pierre Lecoules, L'Ameublement d'art français: 1850-1900, Editions de l'Amateur (Paris), 2010, pp.23, 120, 155, 161 and 179.

Kjellberg, Pierre, Les Bronzes du XIX Siècle, dictionnaire des sculpteurs, Editions de l'Amateur (Paris) 1987, pps.653-658.
Meyer, Jonathan, Great Exhibitions: London, New York, Paris, Philadelphia, 1851-1900, Antique Collector's Club (Woodbridge, UK), 2006.

Ledoux-Lebard, Denise, Les Ebénistes du XIX Siècle, Editions de l'Amateur, (Paris) 1984, p.38.
Cooper, Jeremy, 19th Century Romantic Bronzes, New York Graphic Society, 1975 pps. 25, 41,149.


Luchet, Auguste. L'Art industriel à l'Exposition Universelle de 1867 - mobilier, vêtements, aliments, (Paris), 1868.


John T. Martin, Esq. at 28 Pierrepont Street, Brooklyn, New York.Sold from the Private Collection of the late John T. Martin, Esq., The American Art Association, New York, 1909, lot 64.
John T. Martin (1816-1897) was typical of the great class of American art collectors of the 19th century who made their fortunes from railroads, manufacturing and banking and created a ‘Golden Moment’ of American Wealth. Today the period is best evoked by the Gatsbyesque mansions of The Gilded Age.

Martin made his fortune from a clothing contract with the Union Army and from even more lucrative banking and real-estate ventures after the Civil War. His mansion in Brooklyn Heights was built in the 1850s in the Greek Revival style and was published circa 1883-84 in Artistic Houses - a ‘series of Interior Views of a number of the Most Beautiful and Celebrated Homes in the United States with A Description of the Art Treasures contained therein’. Martin was an enthusiastic art collector whose collection included Going to Work, Dawn of Day by Jean-François Millet, which was lot 96 in the 1909 estate sale (bought by H. S. Henry of Philadelphia for $50,000). Martin’s collection also included La Charrette by Corot and two paintings by Nacisse-Virgile Diaz, from the realist Barbizon school, which show his sophisticated avant-garde taste (A. Lewis et al., The Opulent Interiors of the Gilded Age, (New York), 1987; p.141).


Exposition Universelle, Paris, 1867.


Ferdinand Barbedienne

A Pair of Napoléon III Gilt And Silvered-Bronze-Mounted Rouge Griotte Marble Vases And Pedestals

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