Marie Talbot (1806-c.1860) and her father Jacques-Sébastien Talbot (1769-1842) were part of an extended family of craftspeople working as potters and marchand potiers in the commune of Henrichemont in central France during the 19th century. Drawing inspiration from aspects of daily life in rural France, as well as elegant society, examples of their work are exceptionally rare to the market, and the majority of known pieces are now held in the collections of the Musée de Berry in Borgues. An almost identical fountain to the present lot is in the Musée de Louvre. It is not clear who 'Madamoiselle Degace' was, but seems probable that she was a wealthy patron who commissioned the fountain from the Talbot workshop. Similarly, we do not know how it came to be in the collection of Augustus John, but it is possible he acquired it during his time in France, where he kept a house in Provence at the start of the 20th century.
The fountain appears in a sketch by Cecil Beaton, executed whilst staying as guest of Augustus John at Fryern Court in Fordingbridge, Dorset. The sketch was reproduced in Beaton's memoir 'The Glass of Fashion', first published in 1954.