The Marquise de Pompadour and the Prince de Rohan are depicted in the third act of the opera Acis and Galatea, the opera by Lully that was performed at Versailles in 1749. Kändler may have been inspired by a now lost gouache by C.N. Cochin le Jeune, although a later 19th century engraving of the performance exists (for an illustration see page 64). The Marquise was an enthusiastic and gifted actress and singer and at her wish, two small theatres were built at Versailles for amateur performances. The model of the Marquise is recorded in a small number of porcelain collections although the figure of the Prince is very rare. Two models of the Marquise de Pompadour are in the Pauls-Eisenbeiss Collection, see Porzellan des 18. Jahrhunderts, Frankfurt, 1967, Vol. I, pp. 446-449 where the model is attributed to Kändler;1 another is illustrated in the Catalogue of the Collection of Dresden Porcelain, Formed by S.B. Joel Esq., 2, Gt. Stanhope Street, London, W., Vol. I, circa 1900 or later, complied by Frank Partridge, pp. 18-19. Another figure of the Marquise is in the Untermyer Collection (formerly in the Ole Olsens Collection, Copenhagen and in the collection of Mrs. Meyer Sassoon), see Yvonne Hackenbroch, Meissen and other Continental Porcelain Faience and Enamel, London, 1956, pp. 31-32, Fig. 30. The author notes that a pair of figures of the Marquise and Prince are in the Schlossmuseum, Berlin; a pair of figures are illustrated by Dr K. Berling, Königlich Sächfifche Porzellanmanufaktur Meissen 1710-1910, Dresden, 1911, Table 6, Figs. 4 & 52;2 a pair are in the Wadsworth Athenaeum, Hartford (Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917.1326 and 1917.1327) and a pair in the Bern Historische Museum (Bern, BHM, Inv. 37141). Hackenbroach also refers to a pair of figures in a private collection which are almost certainly the present pair, where she states that the Marquise was formerly in the Kocher Collection, Bern, see ibid., 1956, p. 32. A figure of the Marquise formed part of the 'Highly Important Early Continental Porcelain Collection', sold in these Rooms on 28 March 1977, lot 131 and a pair of figures were sold by Bonhams, London on 12 November 2003, lot 48.
1. The same model is attributed to F.E. Meyer by I. Menzhausen and Jürgen Karpinski, In Porzellan verzaubert die Figuren Johann Joachim Kändlers in Meissen aus der Sammlung Pauls-Eisenbeiss Basel, Basel, 1993, pp. 120-123.
2. Berling refers to the male model as Louis XV.