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    Sale 7608

    Important European Furniture and Sculpture

    10 July 2008, London, King Street

  • Lot 56

    A RECTANGULAR PARCEL-GILT ENAMEL PLAQUE REPRESENTING FORTITUDE

    BY JEAN II PÉNICAUD (ACTIVE SECOND QUARTER 16TH CENTURY), CIRCA 1541

    Price Realised  

    Estimate

    A RECTANGULAR PARCEL-GILT ENAMEL PLAQUE REPRESENTING FORTITUDE
    BY JEAN II PÉNICAUD (ACTIVE SECOND QUARTER 16TH CENTURY), CIRCA 1541
    The half-length female figure painted in grisaille against a transluscent reddish-brown ground, wearing armour and a helmet with her head turned to dexter and holding a Corinthian capital in her hands, signed in gilt along the upper edge '.IA.PENICAUD. .IVNIOR.' and inscribed in gilt at bottom centre 'FORTITVDO', the reverse with transparent counter enamel and stamped several times with a crowned 'P'; in a later gilt-copper frame; minor wear and damages
    10¾ x 8¼ in. (27.2 x 21 cm.); 13 1/8 x 10 5/8 in. (33.4 x 27 cm.) overall


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    This beautifully executed enamel once formed part of a set of four allegorical virtues in the collection of the Dukes of Marlborough. They appear in an inventory of the collection executed in 1862, and in the sale catalogue of the 'Blenheim Enamels' at Christie's in 1883. Of the four enamels listed in that catalogue, two are now in the Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore (see Verdier, loc. cit.) and the fourth - representing Justice - is in a private collection.

    All four enamels almost certainly came into the collection at Blenheim through an unusual bequest made to the family by an 18th century collector named Samuel Spalding. Spalding wrote to the wife of the 4th Duke on 20 December 1793 under the pseudonym of Smith, proposing to donate his collection of Chinese porcelain and French renaissance enamels to the Duke and Duchess if they agreed to certain conditions (British Library, 4th Duke's papers, additional MS 61678, folio 177). The collection had been put together by Spalding himself, having bought from 'some of the finest Cabinets both of France & England which have been put up for sale many years past, such as those of the Dutchefse of Portland, Lady Betty Germain, Dutchefse of Kingston, Lady Townsend & some pieces out of the Princess Amelia's Collection; likewise the Duke d'Aumon's famous collection at Paris, that of the Dutchefse of Mazarine & the old Duke of Richelieu & c'. The enamels, he wrote, would 'do credit to the first Sovereign of Europe.'

    Spalding's proposal was that he would give the collection to the Duke and Duchess if they agreed to house it in a purpose-built gallery for its permanent display. This gallery was to be on the grounds of Blenheim Palace and could be in 'Form of a gothic Dairy, chinese Temple or any Ornament of that Kind most agreeable to their Graces Taste'. It was also to include rooms for Spalding himself and a maidservant, although he did not expect any payment as he had a 'small annuity' on which he could survive.

    The Duke and Duchess agreed to these conditions and a gallery was constructed to house the collection. In an inventory of 1828, the Copper Enamel Room in the gallery is listed as including 'Sixty small figures in frames' which may have included the present enamel of Fortitude. By the time the collection was catalogued by George Scharf in 1862, the Fortitude was explicitly referred to: 'Fortitudo, a female warrior, wearing a helmet, holding the capital of a column in both hands.' It is highly unlikely that the enamel entered the Marlborough collection following the Spalding donation, as the 4th Duke's heir had squandered his inheritance even before becoming 5th Duke, and it was not until the late 19th century that the family fortunes had improved enough for any serious collecting and building to take place.

    The enamel was offered in Christie's sale of the 'Blenheim Enamels' in 1883 (14 June, lot 65A), along with the enamels of Charity, Temperance, and Justice. They remained unsold but may have been negotiated privately after the sale because they next appear in the sale of the celebrated collector Lucien Cottreau in Paris in 1910 (loc. cit.).

    Apart from its distinguished provenance, the present enamel is outstanding for the quality of the painting itself. The Penicaud family were among the most important dynasties of enamel painters in 16th century Limoges, and Jean II Penicaud was among its most gifted artists. He is known to have signed a portrait of Martin Luther in around 1531-2, and his last dated work is 1549 (Verdier, op. cit., p. xix). An enamel of Hope in the British Museum - which is a companion piece to the present enamel - is dated 1541, which gives an approximate date for the production of this lot.

    We would like to thank John Forster, archivist to His Grace the Duke of Marlborough, for his assistance in tracing the provenance of this lot.

    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

    Almost certainly part of the collection of porcelain and enamels given by Samuel Spalding to George, 4th Duke of Marlborough, in the 1790s.
    Probably among the 'Sixty six small figures in frames' listed in the Copper Enamel Room in the inventory of Blenheim Palace dated 1828.
    Certainly in the collection of John, 7th Duke of Marlborough, by 1862 when they appear in a catalogue of the collection.
    By descent until offered by George, 8th Duke of Marlborough, Christie's, London, 'The Blenheim Enamels', 14 June 1883, lot 65A (unsold).
    Lucien Cottreau, Paris, Galerie Georges Petit, Catalogue des Objets d'Art et de la Haute Curiosité de l'Antiquité, du Moyen-Age, de la Renaissance des XVIIe et XVIIIe siècles, Faiences Italiennes, Emaux Champlevés et Peints de Limoges, Ivoires - Bronzes, Objets de Vitrine, 28-29 April, 1910, lot 55.


    Saleroom Notice

    The source for the composition of the present plaque would appear to be a fresco of Fortitude in the Sala d'Attilio Regolo, in the Palazzo del Te, executed to a design by Giulio Romano. For an illustration see F. Hartt, Giulio Romano, New Haven, 1958, II, fig. 288.

    Please also note additional provenance:
    Purchased by the grandfather of the present owner from the Cottreau sale in 1910, and thence by descent.


    Pre-Lot Text

    THE PROPERTY OF A EUROPEAN LADY


    Literature

    G. Scharf, Catalogue Raisonné or, A List of the Pictures in Blenheim Palace; with Occasional Remarks and Illustrative Notes, I, London, 1862, p. 123.

    COMPARATIVE LITERATURE:
    P. Verdier, The Walters Art Gallery - Catalogue of the Painted Enamels of the Renaissance, Baltimore, 1967, nos. 47-48.