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Pair of busts - Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette, King and Queen of France
  • Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette, King and Queen of France
    Boizot, Louis-Simon, born 1743 - died 1809
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Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette, King and Queen of France

  • Object:

    Pair of busts

  • Place of origin:

    France (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1788 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Boizot, Louis-Simon, born 1743 - died 1809 (modeller)
    Sèvres porcelain factory (manufacturer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Soft-paste biscuit porcelain

  • Museum number:

    C.367&A-1983

  • Gallery location:

    Ceramics, Room 145, case 50 []

The royal manufactory at Sèvres was purchased by Louis XV in 1759 and specialised in luxury porcelains, many of which were destined for the French court. Each year it displayed its newest models in the king's apartments at Versailles. The factory was very responsive to changes in fashion and introduced many innovations in design and decoration. Its products were admired throughout Europe and its style was widely imitated.
Porcelain figures evolved as table decorations to replace those made of sugar or wax. Elaborate table ornaments were an important part of grand dining and figures were usually designed to be seen from all sides. Pastoral groups, playful children, and allegorical or mythological themes were some of the popular subjects illustrated in porcelain sculpture. From the 1760s, large sculptures, busts of famous people and groups commemorating historic events were produced as freestanding works of art in their own right.

Figures were usually made from moulds in numerous separate parts, which were painstakingly assembled before the first firing. The royal manufactory at Vincennes/Sèvres was responsible for some of the most outstanding examples. Under the direction of the celebrated sculptor Etienne-Maurice Falconet, the Sèvres workshops were inspired by a variety of sources, including designs by other fashionable artists, such as François Boucher, as well as ancient Roman marbles and reliefs. White, unglazed 'biscuit' porcelain was launched in 1751. It proved an ideal substitute for sugar sculpture and soon replaced the production of glazed figures at Sèvres. Biscuit sculpture was as highly prized as that of marble or bronze. Faults and blemishes could not be concealed by glaze or painted decoration, so it was extremely expensive to produce.
This magnificent pair of busts was presented by Louis XVI to one of the ambassadors sent to France by Tipu Sultan, ruler of Mysore, in 1788.

Physical description

Pair of busts in soft-paste biscuit porcelain depicting Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette, King and Queen of France.

Place of Origin

France (made)

Date

ca. 1788 (made)

Artist/maker

Boizot, Louis-Simon, born 1743 - died 1809 (modeller)
Sèvres porcelain factory (manufacturer)

Materials and Techniques

Soft-paste biscuit porcelain

Marks and inscriptions

LR 15
Josse-François-Joseph Le Riche, in his capacity as Director of Sculpture
On Louis XVI

Dimensions

Height: 380 mm Louis XVI, Width: 265 mm Louis XVI, Depth: 240 mm Louis XVI, Height: 407 mm Marie-Antoinette, Width: 260 mm Marie-Antoinette, Depth: 150 mm Marie-Antoinette

Descriptive line

Pair of busts of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette, King and Queen of France, soft-paste biscuit porcelain, Louis XVI modelled by Louis-Simon Boizot, Sèvres porcelain factory, France, ca. 1788

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Rondot, Bertrand, and Daniëlle Kisluk-Grosheide, Visiteurs de Versailles: Voyageurs, Princes, Ambassadeurs (1682-1789). Paris, 2018., p. 205, 322
Rondot, Bertrand, and Daniëlle Kisluk-Grosheide, Visitors to Versailles From Louis XIV to the French Revolution. New Haven London, 2018., p. 175, 330

Materials

Soft paste porcelain

Categories

Ceramics; Porcelain

Collection

Ceramics Collection

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