A Large Louis Philippe Period Gilt-Bronze Table Centrepiece or Corbeille (Fruit Basket)
A Large Louis Philippe Period Gilt-Bronze Table Centrepiece or Corbeille (Fruit Basket). Attributed to Guillaume Denière (1815-1903), Paris, Circa 1840. The...
DimensionsHeight: 63 cm (25 in)
Diameter: 45 cm (18 in)
A Large Louis Philippe Period Gilt-Bronze Table Centrepiece or Corbeille (Fruit Basket). Attributed to Guillaume Denière (1815-1903), Paris, Circa 1840.
The four sculptural figures of seated children are attributed to Jean-Jacques Feuchère (1807-1852) and represent the four elements of Fire, Water, Earth, and Air. Each figure is accompanied by its corresponding attribute. Fire holds a flaming torch and sits atop a dragon. Water sits atop a dolphin and perhaps originally held a trident spear. Earth holds grapes and ears of wheat accompanied by a lioness and cub. Air holds a billowing robe and sits atop an exotic bird. The circular top of the centrepiece with beaded rim and cast in relief to the basin with strapwork and lion masks. The underside of the basin similarly cast with additional detail of herm figures above a belt of intertwined vine leaf and mice. The whole supported on a baluster upright hung with volutes and fruiting swags above a spreading socle and oval foot.
This impressive centrepiece dates to the late 1830s or early 1840s when the patronage of King Louis Philippe I of France heralded a pronounced flourishing in the sculptural art of metallurgy. Such a specific dating can be made with reference to a surtout de table which was commissioned in 1834 by Ferdinand-Philippe, duc d’Orléans and eldest son of King Louis Philippe. That famous and documented surtout de table, comprised centerpieces, candelabra and tazze modelled in a new sculptural style with figures, animals and naturalistic decoration. Designed in the Renaissance revival style by Claude-Aimé Chenavard (1798–1838) and Jean-Baptiste-Jules Klagmann (1810–1867) and made by Chenavard’s pupil Guillaume Denière, the duc d’Orléans surtout was a ‘Gesamtkunstwerk’ with input from many designers, modellers and sculptors including from Jean-Jacques Feuchère (1807-1852), Pierre-Jules Cavelier (1814- 1894) and Antoine-Louis Barye (1795–1875). The surtout was delivered to Ferdinand-Philippe’s apartments at the Tuileries Palace in April 1839. Ferdinand Philippe, duc d’Orléans died in a carriage accident three years later, on 13 July 1842 and following the French Revolution of 1848 the extensive surtout was sold by his widow, the former Duchesse Hélène of Mecklenburg-Schwerin (1814-1858) at Hôtel Drouot, Paris, 18-20 January 1853. It was divided into multiple lots with the sculptural centrepieces by Antoine-Louis Barye, candelabra and decorative dishes widely dispersed.
The present centrepiece compares closely to multiple elements of the duc d’Orléans surtout de table, most obviously in the profusion of Renaissance revival strapwork and the figures of children which in appearance, pose and allegorical purpose are directly comparable to related figures of children variously employed as attributes for music, feasting and hunting across the centrepieces and candelabra which make up the Orléans surtout de table. Compare a pair of candelabra titled ‘candelabra with woman playing flute’ which formed part of the d’Orléans commission and are today in the Metropolitan Museum (Accession Number: 2020.96.2).
In addition to Ferdinand Philippe’s surtout, in 1840 Denière supplied a grandiose dessert service comprising forty-eight components; including twelve two-tiered dessert stands, twelve oval corbeilles (fruit baskets) and twelve circular compotes. The dessert service was also divided and dispersed at the instruction of the duchess d’Orléans at auction in 1853 and the multiple elements have never been fully identified. Therefore, although we cannot be certain if this centrepiece might once have formed part the Orléans service, it is certainly a most magnificent discovery of artistic gilt-bronze tableware from the Louis Philippe period.
France, Circa 1840.
Isabelle Leroy-Jay Lemaistre, ‘Des sculpteurs et des bronziers,’ Le Mécénat du duc d’Orléans : 1830-1842, Paris, 1993, pp. 128-145.