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Post Lot Text
A CIRCULAR PARCEL-GILT GRISAILLE ENAMEL EWER BASIN DEPICTING THE TRIUMPH OF CERES
BY JEAN COURT DIT VIGIER, 1558
The centre with a circular medallion with a portrait profile depicting Mars and inscribed '.LYMOGES.PAR.IEHAN.COVRT.DIT.VIGIER.1558.', surrounded by a frieze with Ceres in a chariot drawn by putti and preceded by a procession of men, women and satyrs, with an outer border of putti masks, strapwork, cherubim and foliate scrolls; the reverse centered by a lion mask and surrounded by grotesque figures, strapwork and stylised vases with fruit; restorations
The present circular ewer basin depicts a Triumph of Ceres. Ceres, goddess of the harvest and an ancient symbol of fertility, rides in her chariot, holding a cornucopia and preceded by a procession of figures bearing tools or products of the harvest. The exact source for the composition has not, to date, been discovered. Although most of the compositions used on Limoges enamels were taken from printed sources, it is possible that the present Triumph is an original composition of the artist. Certainly he was pleased enough with his work that he signed and dated it proudly in the centre 'JEHAN COVRT DIT VIGIER 1558 A LYMOGES'
Like so many of the enamelling dynasties of Limoges, there were several members of the Court family who had the same name, in this case Jean Court dit Vigier. Vigier was a hereditary title signifying an official post in the judiciary; the office-holder was a representative of the Vicomte de Limousin.
It appears that the first enameller with this name is referred to in documents from 1541 and may be the same man who married Sybille Veyrinaud and was dead before 1564 (Baratte, op. cit., p. 318). This would correspond with a small number of enamels which are signed in full and dated to the years 1555-1558, including the present lot. Perhaps the most important of these items is the covered cup presented in 1556 to Mary Stuart, the future wife of François II (Cabinet de Médailles, Paris). As Philippe Verdier noted in the introduction to his catalogue of the enamels in the Walters Art Gallery, 'the relatively few enamels painted by Jean Court dit Vigier and his workshop in the period 1555-1565 rank among the greatest masterpieces of the painted enamels of Limoges (Verdier, loc. cit.).'