A SEVRES (HARD PASTE) PORCELAIN GROUP, 'LE PAS DE CINQ’
A SEVRES (HARD PASTE) PORCELAIN GROUP, 'LE PAS DE CINQ’
A SEVRES (HARD PASTE) PORCELAIN GROUP, 'LE PAS DE CINQ’
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A SEVRES (HARD PASTE) PORCELAIN GROUP, 'LE PAS DE CINQ’
11 More
A SEVRES (HARD PASTE) PORCELAIN GROUP, 'LE PAS DE CINQ’

1773, PUCE CROWNED INTERLACED L MARK ENCLOSING DATE LETTER U, THE MODEL BY ETIENNE-MAURICE FALCONET, THE PAINTING ATTRIBUTED TO CHARLES NICOLAS DODIN

Details
A SEVRES (HARD PASTE) PORCELAIN GROUP, 'LE PAS DE CINQ’
1773, PUCE CROWNED INTERLACED L MARK ENCLOSING DATE LETTER U, THE MODEL BY ETIENNE-MAURICE FALCONET, THE PAINTING ATTRIBUTED TO CHARLES NICOLAS DODIN
Modeled and decorated in the Meissen with two young couples and a larger-scale slightly older leader wearing a sash and a soft feathered hat, the group engaged in a dance choreographed for five people, their hands clasped and arms raised in various poses as the dance progresses, on a gilt biscuit porcelain ground
8 ½ in. (21.6 cm.) high
Provenance
Private French Collection.
Literature
M.N. Pinot de Villechenon, et. al., Falconet à Sèvres 1757-1766 ou l'art de plaire, exhibition catalogue, Sèvres, musée national de la Céramique, 2001-2002, p. 153.
C. Leprince and C. Froissart, Feu et Talent V: Les sculptures peinte à Sèvres au XVIIIe siècle, Paris, 2015, pp. 15-25, 36-45, bibliographie p. 58.
Sale room notice
This Lot is Withdrawn.

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Lot Essay

The present group is one of only four colored sculptures made in the early years of hard paste at Sèvres. The subjects, detailed modeling and color an attempt on the part of the French royal factory to compete with the high demand for Meissen porcelain sculpture so popular at the time. Its existence was unknown until 2015.

Other than the present group, the most dynamic of them all, its rich saturated colors approaching if not exceeding those at Meissen courtesy of the talented Sèvres chemist Jean Jacques Bailly, extant are only three other examples: two figures of Le Docteur Fagan – one in the collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, wearing a yellow coat; the other of the same subject and date in a private American collection, the good doctor wearing a pink coat – and a small figure of a boy playing a tambourine after François Boucher, formerly in the noted collections of Edouard Chappey (Paris, 1906) and J.P. Morgan, now retained at the Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford (1917-1077). All four date 1773-1774.

As was usually the case, Falconet first modeled Le pas de cinq in terracotta, this bozetto of 1766 retained at Sèvres (Arch.S.C.C.7757). That same year, the last year Etienne-Maurice Falconet was head of the sculpture studio, sales records list the group as selling for cash at the Versailles sales for 240 livres (Arch. S.C.C.Vy5 fo89vo). Between 1765 and 1766, Falconet produced four more models for groups representing the so-called character dances taken from the most famous Opera ballets of the Royal Academy of Music and Dance and meant to form a cycle with Le pas de cinq. Smaller in scale and featuring only pairs dancing, they included La Danse héroïque, LAllemande-française, LAllemande-suisse and LItalienne. The Allemande was a social dance popular across Europe with local variations. The precursor to the waltz, that it allowed partners to touch and interact fueled its popularity.

THE DECORATION
The depth of color and palette used on the present model supports the theory that the preeminent Sèvres painter Charles Nicolas Dodin was responsible for its decoration. By subtly shading the colors and working with the movement of the modeled clothing, he was able to give a far greater sense of texture to textiles than one finds at Meissen, where solid blocks of color overpainted or gilt with flat pattern are more the order of the day. A comparison with a plaque or tableau signed by Dodin and dated 1761 (54.147.19, gift of R. Thornton Wilson, in memory of Florence Ellsworth Wilson, 1954) supports the theory, as does the attribution to his hand of the decoration on a large Vincennes porcelain figure of a fresh-water nymph, La Naïade or La Source, held in the Louvre (inv: TH 693), the porcelain marked with interlaced Ls enclosing date letter D, painter’s mark of a K for Dodin below.

DANCE IN 18TH CENTURY FRANCE
During the reign of Louis XV, two genres of dance developed, that of Opéra-ballet and ballet daction – the first with music and story-telling through movement playing a key role (the precursor to modern ballet); the second with more definitive patterned movements. It is to this second group that our Le pas de cinq belongs, the figures clearly enjoying themselves as they dance, the new medium at Sèvres of hard paste porcelain being brought to life. It is interesting to note that the body types and poses of these five dancers, in particular the lean lead with his feathered hat, find parallels in drawings by Louis René Boquet, a well-known painter and sketcher who used the ballet as his muse. The figures’ poses closely mirror those used by the choreographers Gaétan Vestris and Jean-Georges Noverre. (Falconet à Sèvres, p. 153).

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