Tuesday, March 8, 2016

European decorative objects, 17th-18th centuries

Miniature painting of a lady, possibly Madame de Montespan, in a rich interior
Victoria & Albert Museum

A member of the Paris fan-painters' guild created the scarcely credible miniature representation above. This is the most extreme expression of Louis XIV taste that I have personally encountered. By the year 1690 this famous king had already dominated France for several decades with his fetish for opulence. The artifacts below show the trend of the future, toward the lighter spirit and execution that floated to prominence once the old king was dead.

Wall lights
Gilt bronze with Chinese porcelain parrots and Valenciennes porcelain flowers
18th century
Metropolitan Museum of Art

Three-panel screen
Wool & linen tapestry-work, Savonnerie Manufactory 
ca. 1714-40

Wall light
gilt bronze with porcelain flowers
ca. 1750-60
Metropolitan Museum of Art
John Michael Rysbrack
John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough
marble bust, carved posthumously
c. 1722-48
Metropolitan Museum of Art
Aquired by the Museum from the Duke of Northumberland sale in 2014
English translation of inscription on socle: IOHN Duke of MARLBOROUGH / Prince of the Roman Empire, & ca. / The Rescuer of the Liberties of / ENGLAND and HOLLAND / when in most Imminent Danger, The Subduer and Scourge of FRANCE when in its Height of Power, The Deliverer and Protector of GERMANY, When at the Point of Ruin, Who through the whole course, of A Ten Years Vigorous War, In Repeated Attacks, Upon the Enemies, Armies and Continual Assaults upon their Strong Townes, Never once fail’d of Success.

Fire dog
gilt bronze
ca. 1750
Metropolitan Museum of Art
Augustin Pajou
Madame de Wailly
marble bust
Metropolitan Museum of Art

Bernard van Risenburgh
Side table
ca. 1755-60
Metropolitan Museum of Art

Jean-Antoine Houdon
Metropolitan Museum of Art

Juste Aurèle Meissonnier
gilt bronze
ca. 1735-50
Metropolitan Museum of Art

Jean Henri Riesener
Side table
ca. 1790
Metropolitan Museum of Art

The grandeur, elaboration, and overall heaviness of 17th-century style reasserts itself with Michele Todini's giltwood harpsichord at the Metropolitan Museum, supported and accompanied by a suite of sculpted personages and aquatic demiurges.

Michele Todini
ca. 1670
Metropolitan Museum of Art