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Important Empire Period Paris Porcelain & Ormolu-Mounted Casket/Box/Jewelry Box



An Important and very rare Empire period Paris porcelain ormolu-mounted Empire rectangular shaped two-handled casket decorated and assembled by Feuillet or Sèvres Porcelain manufactures. The cover inset with a simulated hard stone cameo of Ceres in profile to the right within a circular ormolu frame, flanked by scrolling green acanthus issuing pink anthemion and blue flower heads, the side-panels with garlands of flowers on a gilt-ground, the casket with an embossed hand chiseled ormolu frame enclosing four flared rectangular pale-lilac-ground panels with similar decoration centered by trophies, mounted with ormolu double-scroll foliage handles cast with a winged lion mask, supported on four paw feet, the interior fitted with original silk lining and chenille trimming, circa 1815-1820 This Paris porcelain ormolu-mounted casket encapsulates the lavish refinements of the Empire period. It was most probably given to a high-ranking lady as a gift on the occasion of her marriage, or perhaps after the birth of a child. The cover is inset with a Fine simulated hardstone cameo of Ceres, the Greek goddess of agriculture who was emblematic of fertility and plenty, making this casket a fitting and symbolic gift. The casket is closely related to a smaller workbox with similar ormolu mounts and cameo decoration now in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. The V&A example is inscribed ‘Feuillet Rue de la paix 18’ to the underside of the cover and has a contemporary Feuillet paper label to the underside. Although the present casket is considerably larger in size and finer in quality, its similarity to the V&A workbox suggests that it was assembled by Feuillet. Jean-Pierre Feuillet (1777-1840) was a leading Parisian decorator and retailer who set up a shop in Paris on the rue de la Paix under the protection of the prince de Condé. Feuillet gained a reputation as one of the best porcelain decorators in the city and he used porcelain blanks from a variety of Parisian manufacturers including Nast and Darte Frères, supplying many aristocratic collectors. The porcelain panels used in the present casket would probably have been supplied as blanks to Feuillet, and subsequently decorated and mounted in ormolu by Feuillet, as is the case with the example in the V&A. The V&A workbox was bequeathed by Mrs. T.R.P. Hole in memory of Bettine, Lady Abingdon, and was once part of a large collection of French Empire decorative arts owned by Charles Stuart, Lord Stuart de Rothesay (1779–1845) who was the British Ambassador in France during the Napoleonic wars. It seems likely that the present casket was also intended for a similarly important collector. The painting of trompe l’oeil cameos in imitation of hardstone cameos became a popular but technically challenging decorative technique used by many of the leading Continental porcelain factories in the late 18th and early 19th century. The technique was first used at the Sèvres manufactory in the late 18th century, but it was only truly mastered under the directorship of Alexandre Brongniart in the early 19th century. Brongniart’s training as a mineralogist could well have influenced the refinement of the technique at Sèvres. Cameos had a particular appeal to Napoleon, and he ordered vases and services painted with them, including two services called Service ‘Icongraphique’ from Sèvres painted by the artist Degault with figures from antiquity. Cameos were well adapted for Imperial propaganda, lending an antique authenticity but also alluding to the cultured fashion for classicism. Designs for such cameos were taken from Ennino-Quirino Visconti’s, Iconographie grecque, published by order of Napoleon in Paris in 1808. Visconti (1751-1818) was an Italian antiquarian and art historian, papal Prefect of Antiquities, and an expert on ancient Roman sculpture. Copies of his three volume work were given out as gifts and disseminated through Sèvres and other Parisian factories and it seems very likely that the artist who painted the Ceres cameo seen here drew inspiration from Visconti’s publication. Because of the technical difficulties presented by painting cameos, Feuillet most probably turned to one of the best independent decorators to supply the central cameo panel for this casket. The two most celebrated decorators specialising in this technique were Jean-Marie Degault and Louis-Bertin Parant. Of the two, Parant was the leading artist in cameo decoration; although he was employed by Sèvres to work on important commissions he was not part of the regular workforce, preferring to work independently in his own studio in Paris, decorating both Sèvres and other porcelains. Brongniart was continually frustrated at the slow progress of Parant, who was a perfectionist and had gone to great lengths to find Authentic Models for his cameo portraits. Parant’s slow progress was to benefit other accomplished artists, including Jean-Marie Degault who gained further commissions from Sèvres as a result. It is not known whether Degault worked exclusively for Sèvres, or whether he also worked as an independent decorator, but the pair of Sèvres vases ‘fuseau’ decorated by Degault and now in the Twinight Collection, New York, show a similar subtle depth of detail to each of the Emperor’s laurel crowns and the style of the calligraphy of the inscription is also close to that seen on the cameo on the present casket.


  • Creator
    Jean-Pierre Feuillet (Maker)
  • Dimensions
    Height: 6.75 in. (17.15 cm)Width: 15.75 in. (40.01 cm)Depth: 10.5 in. (26.67 cm)
  • Style
    Empire (Of the Period)
  • Materials and Techniques
  • Place of Origin
  • Period
  • Date of Manufacture
  • Condition
    Wear consistent with age and use.
  • Seller Location
    New York, NY
  • Reference Number
    1stDibs: f919518070211269241fs

Shipping & Returns

  • Shipping
    Rates vary by destination and complexity.
    Ships From: New York, NY
  • Return Policy

    A return for this item may be initiated within 1 day of delivery.

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