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A French Paris Porcelain three-piece piece garniture

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Directory: Antiques: Decorative Art: Ceramics: French: Porcelain: Pre 1837 VR: item # 1200402

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Chicora Antiques, Inc.
518 Autumn Circle
Columbia, South Carolina

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A French Paris Porcelain three-piece piece garniture
A fine and rare French Paris porcelain three-piece garniture, or table setting, with polychrome and raised decorations, circa 1820-1830 The centerpiece of this table setting has sculptures featuring two women, with wings, and dressed in diaphanous Neo-classical gowns and utilized as columns or pillars, supporting the central basket. This architectural element, referred to as a Caryatid, was first used by the ancient Greeks in temples of the highest order, are were considered to be the principle source of all architecture, including those seen in modern times. A caryatid supporting a basket on her head is called a basket-bearer, representing one of the maidens who carried sacred objects used at the feasts of the goddesses Artemis and Athena. The origin of the name Caryatid is still a matter of some debate, but it is known that the female figures of the Erechtheion, represented the punishment of the women of a town near Sparta who were condemned to slavery after misleading Athens by siding with Persia in the Greco-Roman wars. They both are shown slavishly kneeling down, and support a central oblong boat-shaped porcelain basket, made to hold various tropical fruits, that is pierced on its sides which aided in the circulation of air around fresh fruit; a luxury at a time when rooms were not yet air-conditioned. Fruit was seasonal, and having it served after a fine meal, with many delightful courses, was a sign of affluence and refinement, as fresh fruit was seasonal,and required delicate care to preserve it. The affiliation of Caryatids with slavery persisted from Greco-Roman times through the period in Europe termed as the Renaissance, around 1400 A.D. when every kind of artistic expression consumed the population, in the form of paintings, drawings, architecture, sculpture, philosophy, literature, and music, etc.. The two flanking pieces essentially share the same design, but are supported by a single female, with wings, all doubtlessly based on Erectheion caryatids, who symbolized one of the maidens who carried sacred commodities used at the feasts of the goddesses Athena and Artemis. The four figures themselves are all kneeling, as if in a ceremonial presentation pose, and are made of bisque, which is simply unglazed porcelain, while the baskets themselves are porcelain. All three pieces have bases that are enhanced with a rich gilt, with raised rosettes and polychrome decorations with a peach and cream colored ground, featuring flowers. The bases of each reflects the basket form it supports, each of which is supported by lion's paw feet, with winged returns. CONDITION: Immaculate, with only minimal and expected wear due to age. No breaks, cracks, or chips. The steel rods joining the pieces are original. Provenance: A French collector, Paris, France. Height: The central basket is 12 1/2". The two side baskets stand 11 3/4" in height.

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