Please note that that the description for this lot should read:
A GARNITURE OF FOUR JACOB PETIT PORCELAIN GOLD-GROUND NEO-ROCOCO TOPOGRAPHICAL VASES AND STANDS, TWO STANDS MATCHED
Mid-19th century, three vases with gilt J.P. marks (two faded), two stands with blue J.P. marks
Please note that the two matching stands are both period Jacob Petit.
JACOB PETIT: Paris Couture Porcelain
Color. Exuberance. Eye-catching style. Overwhelming energy. These phrases capture the spirit of Maria Felix. They equally capture the spirit of porcelain made in Paris during the middle decades of the 19th century by the renowned firm of Jacob Petit.
Its production captivated La Doqa, not the least because its mark, a blue JP, was the name of her beloved dog. Indeed, the piece of Jacob Petit porcelain that first started her on the road to collecting was a model of a recumbent hound (lot 406), given to her as a gift by her brother.
The mastermind behind the name was Jacob Mardochi (1796-1868). Married in 1816 to Anne Adelaode Petit, by 1820, he had qualified as a porcelain maker. Trained also as a painter in the studio of the noted artist Gros, he traveled Europe, spending several years in England. During these years, he supported himself working as a set painter for the theater and as a bronzier. Returning to France around 1830, he established himself outside Paris in Belleville as a designer, decorator and porcelain maker, taking as the name of his firm his first name and his wife's family name.
Thus was born Jacob Petit, a name that has become synonymous with the Rococo revival movement so popular in France and acknowledged as the best of what is now known as Vieux Paris porcelain. Almost immediately, the Belleville premises proved too small to accommodate the firm's production. The solution - to acquire the premises of the porcelain manufactory in Fontainbleau owned by Baruch Weil. This firm, which counted among its august customers Louis XVIII, Charles X and the Duchesse de Berry, had been slowly going down hill since Weil's death in 1828. With over 80 workers and with a decorating studio in Paris at 26 rue de Bondy, its acquisition was the perfect solution to expand Jacob Petit. By 1834, the sale was official and the move to larger premises made - just in time for Jacob Petit to exhibit at the Exposition des produits de l'industrie of that year.
But Jacob Petit was much more than a porcelain manufacturer. Around 1830-1831, Collection de dessins d'ornement composis, dessinis et gravis par Jacob Petit was published - 100 plates, sold by monthly subscription and including between five and ten designs on each sheet of furniture, decorative objects and architectural schemes. Interestingly, it was not until 1834 with the publication by Stiphane Flachat in L'industrie of pieces exhibited at the Exposition of that year that any of Jacob Petit's designs for porcelain were published. These included tea-services, vases, clocks and an extraordinary mantelpiece in porcelain. In Maria Felix's collection are examples of the candelabra inspired by Antique sources (fig. 1) and all four examples illustrated in the archival image (fig. 2).
Contemporary reviews of the Fair branded Jacob Petit as the hot designer of the day. Jacob Petit received an honorable mention for the quality of execution of the elaborate contours of its production : non pour les contours difficiles qu'il donne ' la plupart de ses pihces, mais pour la hardiesse d'exicution par laquelle sont vaincues de telles difficultis. Tous les dicorateurs avouent que les innovations de M. Jacob Petit ont rendu l'essor au commerce de la porcelaine d'ornement. Indeed, production at Jacob Petit was the antithesis of the controlled serene forms being produced at the national porcelain manufactory at Shvres in the Empire taste first popularized in the last years of the 18th century and first quarter of the 19th.
Jacob Petit struck a cord with the buying public. Exhibiting at the 1839 Exposition solidified its reputation, affording them a bronze medal. By that year, the firm employed over 150 people -doubling his workforce in less than a decade - plus another 60 for decoration alone. The firm is known to have sold porcelains in the white which were then decorated by other houses. The marks on a pair of bulb-pots illustrated by Rigine de Plinval de Guillebon in her article, "Jacob Petit: Le plus romantique des porcelainiers parisiens" for L'istampille/L'objet d'art [no. 311, March 1997, pp. 48-57], prove this point easily in that they are marked with a blue JP mark for Jacob Petit and the iron-red stenciled mark of Darte, Palais Royal No 21 for Auguste Darte.
Unfortunately, such marked examples are rare, making it difficult to discern Jacob Mardochi or Jacob Petit's contribution to a given example - be it as designer, porcelain manufacturer, or decorator. Therefore, the firm's name appears in the top line of the catalogue entry for those pieces which we feel do have a direct connection with the firm's production. Those that we feel are simply based on or inspired by its production have been termed "Jacob Petit Style".
Mardochi's creative genius is evident throughout the firm's production. Taking inspiration from 18th century European porcelains as well as Antique, Renaissance, Rococo, and Empire prototypes but combining these design elements in a unique way. Its production included small-scale wares such as scent-bottles often modeled as exotic sultans and sultanas (lots 540, 541, 594, 596) or as bejeweled crowns resting on cushions (lot 426), ink-stands in the form of a Roman daybeds (lots 331-335), candlesticks as oil-lamps (lots 200, 244, 245, 561) and figural veilleuses or small teapots on warming stands. Those by Jacob Petit are often disguised as court beauties with the hat as the pot's cover, the arms as handle and spout, the warmer hidden within voluminous skirts. Boule-de-neige vases after Meissen Schneeballen and trompe l'oeil tureens as fruit and vegetables abound.
As is unfortunately often the case, Jacob Petit became a victim of its own success. Poor control of inventory stored in foreign warehouses and over expansion proved a problem. An attempt in 1846 to produce soft-paste porcelain at a small factory in the town of Shvres in partnership with Nicolas Moriot, a painter employed at the royal factory who was said to have rediscovered the secret of this 18th century material, proved ruinous. The Shvres factory demanded that the kilns of its backyard competition be destroyed.
With creditors clamoring for payment, Jacob Petit was forced to declare bankruptcy, although production on a reduced scale continued into the next decade. Vases applied with flowers and figures applied with porcelain lace, a technique developed by Jacob Petit, were exhibited at the Exposition des produits de l'industrie of 1849 and awarded a silver medal. By 1851, the factory at Fontainbleau was reduced in size and relocated to nearby Avon. The Exposition universelle of 1855 saw Jacob Petit exhibiting baskets, lithophanes and ormolu-mounted lanterns.
The extraordinary set of four Rococo revival gold-ground topographical vases and stands (lot 79) are examples of Jacob Petit production at its apex - the exuberant form showcasing top quality painting, the burnished gold serving as a frame for the detailed Mexican topographical scenes on one side and colorful Renaissance gatherings on the obverse. By tradition, such vases were made for presentation to the mayors of important cities in Mexico. How appropriate that Maria Felix should have acquired them for her collection of Jacob Petit porcelain - the showpiece of perhaps the most extensive collection to ever be offered at auction.