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    Sale 7746

    PARISIAN TASTE IN LONDON: A PRIVATE COLLECTION AND FURNITURE

    10 September 2009, London, King Street

  • Lot 420

    A SET OF TWELVE FRENCH GRISAILLE WALLPAPER PANELS

    BY DESFOSSE & KARTH, LATE 19TH EARLY 20TH CENTURY, FROM 1815 DESIGNS BY MERRY-JOSEPH BLONDEL AND LOUIS LAFITTE FOR THE MANUFACTURE DUFOUR & CIE

    Price Realised  

    Estimate

    A SET OF TWELVE FRENCH GRISAILLE WALLPAPER PANELS
    BY DESFOSSE & KARTH, LATE 19TH EARLY 20TH CENTURY, FROM 1815 DESIGNS BY MERRY-JOSEPH BLONDEL AND LOUIS LAFITTE FOR THE MANUFACTURE DUFOUR & CIE
    Depicting scenes from the series of Psyche and Cupid, titled 'Psyche's parents consult the oracle of Apollo', 'Psyche is carried off by the Zephyrs', 'Psyche bathing', 'Psyche shows her jewels to her sisters', 'Psyche about to stab the sleeping Cupid', 'Psyche abandoned', 'Psyche rescued by a fisherman', 'Psyche presents to Venus a glass of water from the Fountain of Youth', 'Psyche descends into Hades', 'Psyche returns from Hades', 'The reconciliation of Venus and Psyche', and 'The Wedding of Cupid and Psyche', respectively, each within a later grey-painted rectangular moulded frame
    Four panels: 70¾ x 45½ in. (180 x 115.5 cm.);
    four panels: 70¾ x 24 in. (180 x 61 cm.);
    two panels: 70¾ x 67 in. (180 x 170 cm.);
    two panels: 70¾ x 88 in. (180 x 224 cm.) and 70¾ x 86½ in. (180 x 220 cm.), respectively (12)


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    The story of Cupid and Psyche was celebrated in ancient mythology as an allegory representing the rapport between the human soul and divine love. The Romance of Cupid and Psyche was first published in the 2nd Century by Apuleius, a priest of Isis, in The Golden Ass, and by Jean de la Fontaine as Les Amours de Psyché et de Cupidon, in 1669.
    Psyche's beauty aroused Venus's jealousy. Cupid was instructed by the goddess to cause the maiden to fall in love with a monster, but instead he married her himself. Psyche, mislead by her jealous sisters into believing she had actually married a monster, attempted to kill Cupid, was banished from Love's enchanted castle and sought Venus's help. Having accomplished various tasks for the goddess, she was allowed to be reunited with Cupid.

    The scenic panorama, inspired by La Fontaine's 1669 Amours de Psyché et de Cupidon, was originally commissioned by Dufour in 1785 from the firm of Mader père, then in charge of Dufour's design and engraving workshops. It was executed by Louis Lafitte (1770-1828) and Mery-Joseph Blondel (1781-1853), both successful painters and winners of the Prix de Rome for Dufour in 1815, and was first sold in 1816. At the 1819 Exposition des Produits de l'Industrie, Dufour was awarded a silver medal (ill. in Un Age d'or des arts décoratifs 1814-1848, Paris, 1991, pp. 122-123). After Dufour's death in 1827, Leroy continued to produce wallpaper under Dufour and Leroy until he assigned the rights to the firm of Lapeyre et Drouard in 1836. In 1865 Defossé & Karth acquired the rights and original wooden blocks from Lapeyre et Drouard adn re-issued the series based on the original plates in 1872, 1889, 1905, 1923 and 1931. The plates were destroyed in the Second World War.

    Among related wallpaper panels from the series of Pysche & Cupid, a set of fourteen grisaille papier paints was sold, Christie's, London, 15 December 1994, lot 363 (£20,600 with premium), while a further set of five was sold more recently, Sotheby's, London, 4 December 2007, lot 81 (£50,900 with premium).

    Special Notice

    VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price and at 15% on the buyer's premium


    Provenance

    A private German collection.