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A French First Empire Paris Porcelain centerpiece, SOLD

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Directory: Antiques: Decorative Art: Ceramics: French: Porcelain: Pre 1837 VR: item # 1206068

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

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A French First Empire Paris Porcelain centerpiece, SOLD
An extraordinary fine and very rare, possibly unprecedented, Paris porcelain and bisque centerpiece featuring three very prominent and exceptionally detailed bisque Griffiths or Sphinxes, circa 1795-1810. The origin of the Sphinx is quite old. The oldest figure was found around 10,000 years ago near Turkey. The significance of the form is still a mystery, with a number of theories in circulation, the most common and accepted idea is that they were used to protect tombs and temples, which also suggests that they were employed as an early architectural embellishment. The Griffin figure is similar to the Sphinx in that it was a mythological figure, with a tail, lions paws, and stylized head, with wings of an Angel. The Griffith, griffon or gryphon is a creature on legend. Majestic and powerful, it was thought to be the king of creatures. The Griffith is also synonymous with power. Undoubtedly, both of these figures enjoyed a great deal of popularity during the Neo-Classical age (1785-1825) that was inspired by Napoleons military campaigns throughout Egypt and neighboring regions in 1798-1801; the area that the form is thought to have originated. Artisans of every kind began enriching their wares with Napoleons troops discoveries that were transported back to France during the powerful and pervasive rise of Neo-Classism as it swept its way through all of Europe and later America. These three figures have amplified breasts, which in todays World, would suggest a sexual overtone, however, in the era they were made, it may have suggested femininity to a few, but to the more educated, that physical feature in concert with the powerful wings it possesses, the muscular animal feet, and fierce eagle like talons implies strength and a complete, almost divine power, with total domination and endowment of supreme authority. Therefore, the people who would have seen it would have interpreted it as a symbol of supreme masculinity. An image of the imagination to be feared and reveared CONDITION: The centerpiece remains surprisingly unscathed by time and contains no breaks or repairs. The steel rods securing the porcelain and bisque pieces are original. There is only the most minor wear to the heavy gilding, suggesting that it was kept by a single family and placed in an area of safety. The bisque figures are remarkable, as if they were carved in Carrara marble by a master sculpturist with only the tiniest of loss. The gleaming, almost mirror like circular base is without blemish and repeats various Neo-Classical design forms, such as a classical swag shown in almagamation with a bouquet of fruits; an alluring arrangement extensively utilized in or on Neo-Classical objects, including ormolu mounts commonly applied to the finest case forms available at the time. Although the centerpiece is unmarked by the maker or decorator, the piece is so extraordinary and unprecedented, it is almost certain that further research will result in an attribution or definitive designer of as piece that harmonizes so well and brings an amalgamation of design elements together to result in a true masterpiece of the Neo-Classical period. DIMENSIONS: Height 16 1/2,Width 10 1/2 (approximately). NOTE: A similar set of three centerpieces are in the collection of The White House. While these are not made of porcelain, but rather gilt-bronze or ormolu, their form and function are the same, with three females figures, attired in low-cut Empire gowns, supporting the wicker-basket. The set has been attributed to Deniere et Matelin or Jean Francois Deniere et Francois Matelin, circa 1817. The White House purchased the set in 1817 and still frequently uses them in The State Dining Room when entertaining to hold flowers or fruit. See:The White House, B. Monkman, Abbbevillle Press, page 52.

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