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A LARGE SEVRES PORCELAIN GILT BEAU BLEU PLAQUE FROM THE COLLECTION OF GEORGE IV
A LARGE SEVRES PORCELAIN GILT BEAU BLEU PLAQUE FROM THE COLLECTION OF GEORGE IV
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A LARGE SEVRES PORCELAIN GILT BEAU BLEU PLAQUE FROM THE COLLECTION OF GEORGE IV

CIRCA 1789, GILT INTERLACED L'S MARK ABOVE DATE LETTER MM, THE GILDING ATTRIBUTED TO E.-H. LE GUAY

Details
A LARGE SEVRES PORCELAIN GILT BEAU BLEU PLAQUE FROM THE COLLECTION OF GEORGE IV
CIRCA 1789, GILT INTERLACED L'S MARK ABOVE DATE LETTER MM, THE GILDING ATTRIBUTED TO E.-H. LE GUAY
Designed as plaque to be set into the front of a commode, the center gilt and painted in shades of sepia after Nicolas Poussin's 'Continence of Scipio', within elaborate panels of gilt foliate scrollwork, the sides with flaming braziers, floral crowns and flower-filled baskets, the four corners with allegorical figures of women
15 3/8 in. (39 cm.) high, 18 7/8 in. (47.8 cm.) long
Provenance
Villeminot, payeur général de la marine, Paris, 25 May 1807, lot 137, sold to M. Brouces for 301 francs.
The collection of the Prince Regent and HRH George IV at Carlton House, 1812-27.

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Lot Essay

Soon after its acquisition in 1812, the Prince Regent, later George IV, sent the present 'Continence of Sciopio' plaque to Thomas Tatham to be "placed in the door of one of the Prince Regent's commodes." It was set into a handsome oak, ebony and tulipwood commode by Adam Weisweiler that had been purchased for the Prince by Dominique Daguerre in the late 1780s or early 1790s. Once the new plaque had been installed, the Weisweiler commode was then further reworked by Vulliamy in 1813 to match an existing cabinet by Carlin already in Prince's collection at Carlton House. By 1827 George IV had decided to alter the cabinet one last time before it was sent to Windsor Castle. He discarded the present 'Continence of Scipio' plaque and replaced it with a circular Sèvres plaque painted with a basket of flowers, as is still seen in the Royal Collection (inventory no. 21696).
For an inventory drawing by Thomas Talbot Bury of the Weisweiler commode with the 'Continence of Scipio' plaque still set in its door, see G. de Bellaigue, French Porcelain in the Collection of Her Majesty the Queen, London, 2009, vol. III, p.1006, fig. 287.2. For an illustration of the commode with the second, circular Sèvres plaque, see G. de Bellaigue, op. cit., p. 1004, cat. no. 287 and H. Roberts, For the King's Pleasure, the Furnishing and Decoration of George IV's Apartments at Windsor Castle, London, 2001, p. fig. 279.
Prior to sale to the Prince Regent, the plaque was offered in a sale of Villeminot, payeur général de la marine, in Paris on 25 May 1807 (see G. de Bellaigue, op. cit. p. 1005), where it was listed as follows:
"Lot 137, a 'Tableau sur Porcelaine' is described as "Un morceau de belle forme d'une exécution aussi riche que brillante, il représente un bas-relief, Suject de Continence de Scripion, tracé et rehaussé d'or avec encadrement d'une frise arabesque précieusement traitée dans le même genre. Tous les détails se détachent sur un fond gros bleu turc. Ouvrage marquant qui ne pouvait être exécuté avec tant de perfection que par les habiles artistes qui dirigent la manufacture de Sèvres. Larg. 47-H. 38 cm."
Recorded by the ancient Roman historian Titus Livius (Livy), the subject of the present plaque, also known as the 'Clemency of Scipio', depicts the Roman general Scipio Africanus refusing a considerable ransom for a beautiful young female prisoner in his care. Instead, the general shows both 'sexual restraint' and mercy by returning her to her fiancé Allucius and her family. As a result of Scipio's decency, Allucius pledges his allegiance to Rome.
The original oil painting, 'Continence of Scipio' by Nicolas Poussin (French, 1594-1655) is now located in the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow.
The attribution of the gilding to Etienne-Henry Le Guay, active at Vincennes and Sèvres first as a painter and then as a gilder 1748-49 and again 1751-97, is based on a comparison of the delicate arabesque and vase decoration that borders the central scene with the gilding found on similarly decorated and marked gobelets ‘Litron’ and saucers, each variantly gilt with similar scrolls, fountains, birds and diaper pattern. Extant examples are: a cup and saucer of the first size in a private English Collection (Rebecca Shaw, A Thing of Beauty is a Joy Forever Vincennes and Sèvres Porcelain from a Private Collection, London, 2017, pp. 152-153); two cups and saucers of the first size previously in the collection of the 6th Earl of Rosebery, sold by Sotheby’s on the premises at Mentmore, 24 May 1977, lots 2117 and 2118, one now in a private American collection (lot 2117, sold by Christie’s in 1995 and again in 2002), the location of lot 2118 unknown; a cup and saucer of the 2nd size in the same American collection; and a cup only in the collection of Her Majesty the Queen (RCIN 39843).

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