“Renaissance vase"

Claude-Aimé Chenavard (1798-1838)
France, c. 1830
Gilt bronze and gemstones
Long-term loan from the Mobilier National, 2005
Inv. MOB NAT GML 10520
© Les Arts Décoratifs, Paris / photo: Jean Tholance

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This monumental vase is a tribute to the Renaissance. Its belly is decorated with two early sixteenth-century scenes featurng an artist and a king: on one side, Jean Goujon shows Henri II and Diane de Poitiers his newly completed sculpture of Diana and the stag; on the other side, Leonardo da Vinci paints the Mona Lisa in the presence of François I. The abundant decoration, satyrs, gemstones and triple portrait all recall the decorative style of the Renaissance.

The Sèvres porcelain factory had commissioned the ornamentalist Claude-Aimé Chenavard to design a vase with a new aesthetic that would break with traditional neoclassicism. At the Salon of 1831, Chenavard presented a project in the style of the Renaissance that met with instant acclaim. Alexandre Brongniart, the director of the Sèvres factory, first thought of Antoine-Louis Barye before eventually commissioning the sculptor Antonin Moine to create the piece. The designer Jean-Marie-Ferdinand Régnier worked on the vase for almost six months, assisted by several artists from Sèvres. The porcelain paste, a precious material in itself, was colored, gilded and decorated with artificial stones. This first polychrome porcelain vase, held in the Château de Fontainebleau, was so successful at the Exhibition of Royal Manufacturers in 1832 that Brongniart decided to make a replica in blue and white porcelain (now in the Musée du Louvre). The example in the Musée des Arts Décoratifs was made in gilt bronze.

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