A Rare and Large Pair of Neo-Grec Gilt and Patinated Bronze Amphora Vases
A Rare and Large Pair of Neo-Grec Gilt and Patinated Bronze Amphora Vases. Designed by Ferdinand Levillain and cast by Ferdinand Barbedienne. Signed...
DimensionsHeight: 133 cm (53 in)
Width: 35 cm (14 in)
Depth: 31 cm (13 in)
A Rare and Large Pair of Neo-Grec Gilt and Patinated Bronze Amphora Vases.
Designed by Ferdinand Levillain and cast by Ferdinand Barbedienne.
Signed ‘F. Levillain’ and ‘F. Barbedienne’
These spectacular floor-standing Neo-Grec vases were designed by the sculpteur-ornemaniste Ferdinand Levillain (1837-1905) and cast in bronze by the Ferdinand Barbedienne foundry in Paris. They are finely cast with sculptural detail in bas-relief depicting Grecian inspired scenes of figures in profile, drawn from Ancient Greek red and black painted pottery vases. Levillain takes bas-relief modelling of the figures, which is taken from ancient sculptural tablets such at the Parthenon Marbles.
The upper bands of the vase are cast with birds, wild animals, herms, pots and vases of fruit. The central band depicts market scenes with a maiden buying fruit from a kneeling trader and a seated youth supporting a basket of ducks and a rabbit, conversing with a maiden carrying a fruit-laden basket. The scenes are titled ‘EK THEAPOPAS’ translated as ‘in the city of Thespiae’ and ‘ENTHIATOPAI’ for Ethiopia. The tapering body of each vase is applied with loop handles and supported on three anthemion-cast lion-paw monopodiae.
These large tripod-supported vases would have been conceived as oil-lamps and were shown as part of Barbedienne’s acclaimed submissions to the 1878 Paris Exhibition, when they were complimented as ‘beautiful vases in the taste of the antique composed by M. Levillain’ as examples of ‘serious, noble and graceful art’ (L’Art Moderne, L’Exposition de 1878, La Gazette des Beaux-Arts, Paris, 1878, p. 364).
France. Circa 1878.
Signed ‘F. Levillain’ and ‘F. Barbedienne’.
Ferdinand Barbedienne (6 August 1810 – 21 March 1892) was a French metalworker and manufacturer, who was well known as a bronze founder.
The son of a small farmer from Calvados, he started his career as a dealer in wallpaper in Paris. In 1838 he went into partnership with Achille Collas (1795-1859), who had just invented a machine to create miniature bronze replicas of statues. Together they started a business selling miniatures of antique statues from museums all over Europe, thus democratising art and making it more accessible to households. From 1843 they extended their scope by reproducing the work of living artists and also diversified by making enamelled household objects. With the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian war in 1870 the firm briefly had to switch to cannon founding owing to the shortage of metals but resumed business afterwards. Following Barbedienne’s death in 1892, he was buried in the Père-Lachaise cemetery and the firm was carried on by his nephew Gustave Leblanc until 1952.
Among the principal artists reproduced by the firm were Antoine Louis Barye and Auguste Rodin.