• Important Early European Furni auction at Christies

    Sale 7764

    Important Early European Furniture, Sculpture & Tapestries

    5 November 2009, London, King Street

  • Lot 287

    A LOUIS XVI ALLEGORICAL TAPESTRY

    GOBELINS, SECOND HALF 18TH CENTURY, AFTER CLAUDE III AUDRAN, THE FIGURES BY LOUIS DE BOULLOGNE THE YOUNGER AND MICHEL II CORNEILLE, THE ANIMALS ATTRIBUTED TO FRANCOIS DESPORTES

    Price Realised  

    A LOUIS XVI ALLEGORICAL TAPESTRY
    GOBELINS, SECOND HALF 18TH CENTURY, AFTER CLAUDE III AUDRAN, THE FIGURES BY LOUIS DE BOULLOGNE THE YOUNGER AND MICHEL II CORNEILLE, THE ANIMALS ATTRIBUTED TO FRANCOIS DESPORTES
    Woven in silks, wools and silvered metal threads, depicting 'Venus' from the series 'Les Portières des Dieux', with Venus and Cupid seated on a cloud with two swans, beneath a floral crown and rose garlands supported by doves, flanked by rose-draped ornate watering cans and beneath an arcaded canopy with lambrequinned fringe decorated with further doves and centred by a medallion depicting a white bull, above a simulated marble ledge supporting an ornate vase issuing a rose bush, reduced in height, lacking borders
    9 ft. 5 in. x 6 ft. 8 in. (286 cm. x 202 cm.)


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    DESIGNERS
    The design for Les Portières des Dieux, first known as Nouvelles Portières des Rabesques des Dieux and comprising four panels of the Seasons, consisting of Venus as Spring, Ceres as Summer, Bacchus as Autumn and Saturn as Winter, and four panels of the Elements, consisting of Juno as Air, Diana as Earth, Neptune as Water and Jupiter as Fire, were ordered by the sûrintendant des bâtiments du Roi Jules Hardouin-Mansart from Claude Audran Le Jeune (1639 - 1684) in 1699. The figures of the various goddesses, gods and children were designed by Louis de Boullogne (1654 - 1733) and Michel II Corneille (d. 1708) while the animals are probably after Alexandre-François Desportes (1661 - 1743). Payments to the four for this commission are recorded until August 1703, when the paintings appear to have been completed. Several cartoons were delivered for each subject for both the high and the low looms. Three different border designs were prepared for the set.

    Claude Audran, teacher of Watteau, was at that time also employed to decorate the chambers of the duc d'Orléans at Meudon, painting the Menagerie and the chamber of the princesse de Conti at Versailles. It is interesting to note that Audran did not appear in the Royal accounts until 1699 but at that point was charged with numerous considerable commissions. Desportes, a longtime friend of Audran, was also hired for the same commissions and specialised in animal painting.

    WEAVINGS
    The first tapestries of this series were completed in January 1701 in the atelier of Dominique De La Croix. The series proved to be one of the most enduring of all the Gobelins designs and was woven until 1789 with a variety of background colours and some including gold and silver thread. There are only eight offical editions noted in the records at the workshop, but there must have been additional private weavings that were not listed in the inventories at Gobelins. In 1789 an astonishing 63 panels of this series are recorded at Versailles. The crimson background of these tapestries indicate that they were probably woven between 1771 and 1789, when this background is recorded being used for this series at Gobelins.

    A tapestry with similar varied framing by Jean Lefèbvre was sold anonymously, Christie's, New York, 21 October 2005, lot 213.

    Special Notice

    No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VAT at 15% will be added to the buyer's premium which is invoiced on a VAT inclusive basis.


    Provenance

    Anonymous sale, Palais Gallierea, Paris, 7 December 1970, lot 166.


    Pre-Lot Text

    The following two tapestries form part of the celebrated series Les Portières des Dieux ordered in 1699 by the sûrintendant des bâtiments du Roi Jules Hardouin-Mansart from Claude Audran Le Jeune (1639 - 1684). First known as Nouvelles Portières des Rabesques des Dieux, the series comprised of four panels of the Seasons, with Venus as Spring, Ceres as Summer, Bacchus as Autumn and Saturn as Winter, and four panels of the Elements, consisting of Juno as Air, Diana as Earth, Neptune as Water and Jupiter as Fire. The figures of the various goddesses, gods and children were designed by Louis de Boullogne (1654 - 1733) and Michel II Corneille (d. 1708) while the animals are probably after Alexandre-François Desportes (1661 - 1743).

    THE PROPERTY OF A GENTLEMAN (LOTS 287 AND 288)