Carle Dreyfus “Musée du Louvre: Les Objets d’Art du XVIIIe Siècle: Époque Louis XV”, 1923, pl. 3, illustrating a comparable pair of chenets originally owned by Madame de Pompadour at Château de Bellevue, now in the Musée du Louvre, Paris.
F. J. B. Watson, “The Wrightsman Collection”, 1966, vol. II, p. 375, no. 192 A & B, illustrating a comparable pair of chenets in the Wrightsman Collection, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
An extremely fine quality pair of Louis XV gilt bronze chenets, both with C-shaped rocaille plinths on scrolling foliate feet, on one is seated a bearded Chinaman wearing an elaborate headdress and long robes who looks toward a parrot perched in his outstretched right hand, on the other is seated an Oriental style woman in contrapposto pose again wearing a headdress and long robes who looks toward a parrot perched on her outstretched left hand, at the end of each plinth is a winged dragon that looks toward the respective figures
Paris, date circa 1750
Height 35 cm, width 32 cm, depth 16 cm. each.
These magnificent rocaille chenets are conceived in the picturesque Chinese manner, featuring a gardener and his companion who listen to parrots, while observed by winged dragons amid foliate scrolled rockwork. As such they epitomise the Rococo style and particularly the taste for the Orient that prevailed in France during the Régence and early part of Louis XV’s reign, when the passion for all things Chinese remained strong. The Chinoiserie style was readily adopted by the Parisian marchands-merciers who acquired original Chinese porcelain figurines via the East India Company and had them copied by the Parisian bronziers. The marchands-merciers also used Chinese lacquer panels to decorate pieces of furniture or commissioned Parisian artisans to recreate other objects in the Chinese taste. This was the case with Lazare Duvaux whose daybook lists several deliveries of candelabra, clocks and decorative Chinese style chenets, which Duvaux had executed by various fondeur-ciseleurs; among whom were two of the most celebrated exponents of their day namely Jean-Joseph de Saint-Germain (1719-91), and Jacques Caffiéri (1678-1755). Interestingly Duvaux’s daybook records that on 23rd August 1756 he delivered to Mme la Marquise de la Ferrière “un petit feu doré d’or moulu compose de figures chinoises avec ses garnitures de pelles et pincettes 120 l”.
The design for these chenets with the two seated Oriental figures, compares with those owned by Madame de Pompadour, of which a pair from her apartments at Château de Bellevue is now in the Musée du Louvre, Paris. In addition to those, a comparable pair is in the Wrightsman Collection. F. J. B. Watson notes that another version of the latter model, in a private collection, was illustrated in “Connaissance des Arts, Le XVIIIe Siècle Français”, p. 122, pl. C, where it was reported as being signed F-TH Germain. The present chenets may also relate to the “model de garniture de grill representant un chinois et une chinoise”, listed in the 1755 inventory of the celebrated fondeur-ciseleur Jacques Caffieri, (see E. Molinier, “Le Mobilier Français du XVIIe et du XVIIIe Siècle”, circa 1900, p. 23). A similar pair of chenets, formerly in the collection of Lord Savile was later owned by Frederick John Nettlefold (illustrated in R. Forrer, “The Collection of Bronzes and Castings in Brass and Ormolu Formed by Mr. F. J. Nettlefold”, 1934, pls. 33 & 34). In addition, a slightly different seated Chinaman features on a pair of Rococo chenets that once belonged to Princess Hélène of Saxe-Altenburg and was lent to a retrospective exhibition of art at Saint Petersburg in 1904 (illustrated in Alexandre Benois, “Les Trésors d’Art en Russie”, IV, pl. 108). Furthermore, a related single chenet, listed in the collection of Sir Philip Sassoon, Bt. at his London home in Park Lane during the 1920s, was later in the collection of the Marquess of Cholmondeley, Houghton Hall and sold at Christie’s London 8th December 1994, lot 64.