• 500 Years: Decorative Arts Eur auction at Christies

    Sale 2203

    500 Years: Decorative Arts Europe Including Carpets from The Corcoran Gallery of Art

    24 November 2009, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 262



    Price Realised  


    Circa 1780, blue interlaced L's mark, gilder's LF for La France
    The teapot, milk-jug and cups each with bifurcated scroll handle, the borders richly gilt with a foliate rinceau, comprising a teapot and cover, a milk-jug, a sugar-bowl and cover, six cups and six saucers
    6½ in. (16.5 cm.) high, the teapot and cover (17)

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    André-Joseph La France is recorded at Sèvres initially as a flower painter and then as a gilder 1776-1803, 1813-1828.

    Born in St. Louis, the son of a congressman, Thomas Allen became a painter, specializing in landscapes, genre and still-life scenes. He served as vice-president of The Copley Society, the oldest artist's group in the United States, and also served for years as a trustee of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

    As recounted on the organization's website, in 1879, members of the first graduating class of the School of the Museum of Fine Arts felt the need to keep the ties they had formed, and to help each other in their struggle to become prominent artists. In May of that year, largely through the efforts of Alice Spencer Tinkham and H. Winthrop Pierce, the Boston Art Students Association (now the Copley Society of Art) was formed. Their aim was to supplement the academic training of the Museum School, to assist their members in their artistic careers, to cultivate a spirit of fraternity among artists, and to promote the interests of art in the city of Boston. Exhibitions of members' works were held twice a year, and dues and fees were collected to meet gallery rent, printing, and entertainment expenses. In a great spirit of friendship, common purpose, and artistic ambition, a handful of students set the stage for the future.

    The early days of the Boston Art Students' Association (BASA) were alive with artistic activity of all types. The Association sponsored lectures on important artists, seminars in art history, and talks and demonstrations on techniques in painting and drawing. Original pageants and plays were performed to enrich Boston's cultural life, and exciting costumed artists' festivals were organized to enliven spirits and raise funds to continue exhibitions, scholarships, and educational activities.

    By 1891, membership in the BASA no longer required an affiliation with the Museum School. It was opened to patrons as well as active artists and, by 1892, its membership totaled 416. In 1893, the BASA leased the Winslone Skating Rink located on Clarendon Street near Trinity Church. Renamed Grundmann Studios in honor of Otto Grundmann, the greatly admired artist, teacher, and first head of the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, this unusual building was transformed into beautiful exhibition halls with rooms for studios, meetings, and classes. Exhibitions of major importance were installed in Copley and Allston Halls.

    In 1897, one hundred masterpieces were shown, including works by Corot, Reynolds, and Van Dyck. The following year, "The Modern Painters Exhibition" brought to Boston works by the French Impressionists. "The John Singer Sargent Exhibition" of 1899 opened to news articles calling him the "greatest living portrait painter in America."

    In 1901, the BASA decided that their organization was more than student-oriented, and changed its name to the Copley Society of Boston in honor of John Singleton Copley, one of America's earliest noted painters. Under its new name, the Copley Society devoted itself to a broader support of the arts through educational programs and special artistic events, as well as exhibitions of members' works. The Copley Society remains active today, located at 158 Newbury Street.


    Thomas S. Allen Jr. (1849-1924), Boston, MA.


    Boston, Massachusetts, The Copley Society, 1911.