Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Sculptures of the Day: Biscuit Figures in the Sévres Style

Pair of Infants: One Drawing, One Reading
Dihl et Guerhard, Late Eighteenth Century
Hard-Pase Biscuit Porcelain
Acquired by Queen Mary, 1936-38
The Royal Collection
In the late Eighteenth Century, with the growing popularity of biscuit (parian), the porcelain makers at France’s Sévres introduced the trend of creating a pair of figures—one a female child who represents reading, the other a male representing drawing. This motif was frequently copied by other aspiring porcelain makers—both French and English--who were well on their way to perfecting their own parian figures. Such is the case of this pair of infants. Crafted in the late Eighteenth Century in the Sévres style by Dihl et Guérhard, this set is numbered on the reverse in black paint, “No. 1” and “No. 2.” Historians believe that the pair may have been sculpted to be included in a group on a large clock case that was never completed.

You’ll never guess how these ended up in the Royal Collection. Oh, okay. You guessed. Mary of Teck acquired the first one in 1936 and the second in 1938. How she managed to hunt down the the mate to the first one, I’ll never know. But, she did, and they’ve been in the Royal Collection ever since.

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