Lot n° 24
30000 - 50000
Result with fees
: 39 000EUR
Jean-Baptiste ISABEY (1767-1855)
Project... - Lot 24 - Daguerre
Jean-Baptiste ISABEY (1767-1855)
Project for Sèvres: the table of the imperial family, 1811
Watercolor gouache, pen and black ink.
Round cut-out form.
D. 35,5 cm
Bibliography : Basily-Callimaki, J.-B. Isabey, his life, his time, 1767-1855, followed by the catalog of the work
engraved by and after Isabey, Paris, 1909, p.254. Tamara Préaud, "Isabey à la manufacture de Sèvres",
in Jean-Baptiste Isabey (1767-1855), portraitist of Europe, exhibition catalog, Rueil-Malmaison,
Nancy, 2005, p. 70.
Related work: Jean-Baptiste Isabey, projet de secrétaire de la famille impériale, watercolor and ink
on paper, Manufacture Nationale de Sèvres.
The imperial manufactory of Sèvres knew under the First Empire a period of exceptional development
thanks to the patronage of the Emperor who, always concerned with the influence of France, made it a
a propaganda tool of the first rank.
Pedestal tables, the most important piece of furniture, were exclusively ordered by the Emperor.
Of the six commissioned during the Empire, four were ordered by Napoleon on April 21, 1806: the imperial family table, never finished.
the imperial family table, never finished; the one called "of the marshals", delivered in October 1810 and kept at
Malmaison; a third one decorated with the great captains of antiquity, completed in 1812, now in the British royal collections; finally a pedestal table with the main antique statues of the
Napoleon, a piece of furniture that was completed under Louis XVIII after having been extensively modified.
The table of the imperial family, the first one ordered by the
by the Emperor, the most important in size and price,
must show the imperial couple in its center, surrounded
members of the family. Numerous documents
preserved in the Archives of the Manufacture and in the
Archives Nationales make it possible to reconstitute this
order. Alexandre Brongniart, director of the
of the imperial manufactory of Sèvres and master of work
of the ambitious project, wishes first of all to make
to represent a single scene on a circular plate
of at least one meter in diameter. He addresses for it
to Louis-Léopold Boilly, who made three wash sketches
sketches, which are now kept in private collections.
private collections. The difficulties encountered by the painter
to get resembling portraits make him give up the project
him to give up the project.
Napoleon's divorce in April 1810 put the
project of the table. The birth of the king of Rome in March
1811 revives the interest of the Emperor.
The difficulties encountered by the factory to produce a very large
to produce a very large plate of porcelain perfectly
flat and without defect make on the other hand give up
Brongniart to the idea to make reproduce a scene
single scene on the plate. He preferred the imperial couple
in a smaller central scene, surrounded by the members of the
members of the family in medallions. In place of the
table, Brongniart proposed a secretary to Napoleon.
As for the table, the piece of furniture must receive
gilded bronzes made by Thomire and the face must be completely
be completely covered with porcelain.
Brongniart then turns to Jean-Baptiste
Isabey, who has just finished the paintings of the
table of the marshals. For a long time close to the imperial family
the imperial family, first painter of the Chamber of the
of the Empress, painter of the foreign relations,
draftsman of the Cabinet of the Grand Chamberlain, painter
of the Sèvres factory and the imperial theaters,
chief decorator of the Opera, the miniaturist could
both paint the preparatory drawing and the porcelain plates.
The secretary's project did not suit Napoleon who
reiterates his wish to see a pedestal table made. This
time Brongniart does not waste time and defines with
Isabey a project of table of which the miniaturist completes
the preparatory sketch in September.
The drawing that we present is certainly the drawing
which was presented to the Emperor on November 20, 1811 and
which was approved. We know that this drawing represented the
and that it was framed. On the drawing of the secretary
the official mention "by the imperial manufacture of
by the imperial porcelain factory of Sevres". It is not known whether
whether an inscription also appeared on the drawing of the
pedestal table. Probably originally square in shape,
It was cut along the perimeter later on. Its
design remains very close to that of the secretary. We
the same portraits, slightly enlarged. It
it is possible that the ornamental part was realized by an
by an artist from Sèvres, possibly Brongniart,
Isabey reserved the portraits for himself.
In the center are Napoleon and Marie-Louise in the
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