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(b Quebec, Qué., Aug 10, 1764; d Quebec, Qué., June 3, 1839).

Canadian metalworker. He studied at the Petit Seminaire du Québec from 1778 to 1780 and began his apprenticeship c. 1780 in the silversmith’s shop of his elder brother, Jean-Nicolas Amiot (1750–1821); the tradition that he was apprenticed to François Ranvoyzé is unfounded. In 1782 he travelled to Paris to complete his training and remained there for five years, supported by his family. He absorbed the Louis XVI style, then popular in France, and after his return to Quebec in 1787 he set up a workshop to introduce this into Canada.

Much of Amiot’s work was for the Church, reworking traditional forms in the Louis XVI style. In a sanctuary lamp of 1788 for the church at Repentigny he elongated the standard shape and decorated it with a balanced arrangement of Neo-classical designs. After 1800 his work became formulaic and less innovative, though there are such notable exceptions as the chalice (...

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Clare Le Corbeiller

French family of gold- and silversmiths. Robert-Joseph Auguste (b 1723; d ?1805) became a master in 1757 after an apprenticeship that included work for Louis XV. His repertoire was unusual in that it embraced both silver tableware and gold objects of vertu; the latter includes four gold boxes made between 1762 and 1763, and 1769 and 1771 (Paris, Louvre; New York, Met.; London, V&A; Althorp House, Northants). In 1775 he received payment for the royal crown and other regalia (destr.) made for the coronation of Louis XVI in 1774. The majority of his work in silver is tableware and includes partial or complete services for the courts of Denmark (Copenhagen, Kon. Saml.) and Russia (St Petersburg, Hermitage) and for Gustav Filip Creutz of Sweden (1775–6; Stockholm, Kun. Slottet). He also made a service for George III of England (1776–85; Paris, Louvre). Auguste’s style is characterized by a light and graceful Neo-classicism, in which festoons and figures of children as handles or finials are prominent....

Article

Donna Corbin

(b Lacochère, Orne, April 29, 1764; d Paris, March 26, 1843).

French cabinetmaker and silversmith. The silver and silver-gilt produced in his workshop rivals that of his contemporaries Henri Auguste and Jean Baptiste Claude Odiot. By 1789 Biennais had established himself at 283, Rue Saint-Honoré, Paris, as a cabinetmaker and tabletier (a dealer in and maker of small objects). After 1797 Biennais, no doubt encouraged by the dissolution of the guild system, expanded his business to include the manufacture of silver. During the Consulate Biennais became Napoleon’s personal silversmith, although he may have provided Napoleon with silver as early as 1798, when it is said that he supplied him with a nécessaire de voyage prior to his Egyptian campaign (1798–1801) and trusted him to pay for it on his return.

Biennais produced large amounts of silver for Napoleon and his family, including, in 1804, the crown and sceptre for his coronation and a number of nécessaires of different types, remarkable for the combination of forms of varying shapes and sizes that are ingeniously accommodated in a restricted space. One (...

Article

Lucia Pirzio Biroli Stefanelli

Italian family of gem-engravers and medallists. Giuseppe Cerbara (b Rome, 15 July 1770; d Rome, 6 April 1856) was the son of Giovanni Battista Cerbara (b Rome, 1748; d Rome, 1811) and was one of the best-known gem-engravers and medallists working in Rome in the 18th century and the early 19th. His artistic achievements brought him many honours: in 1812 he was elected Fellow of the Accademia di S Luca, in 1815 Fellow of the Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Vienna and in 1825 Fellow of the Royal Academy of Fine Art of Antwerp. In 1831 he was elected to the Congregazione dei Virtuosi del Pantheon and in 1834 to the Accademia Fiorentina di Belle Arti. From 1822 he held the post of Incisore Camerale to the papal mint with Giuseppe Girometti; the artists were responsible for producing a medal on alternate years. Appointed Incisore Particolare dei Sommi Pontefici by ...

Article

Term used to describe the continuation in the decorative arts of the Neo-classical style (see Neo-classicism) in France between 1800 and 1805 under Napoleon Bonaparte (First Consul; 1799–1804). His Consulate was an era of renewal in the furniture, porcelain and metalwork industries in France (see France, Republic of, §VI, 4), greatly encouraged by the patronage of Napoleon, who sought a model for his position in the magnificence of ancient Rome. While little actual building took place, the period was important for such changes in interior decoration as the lavish use of draperies—begun during the 1790s—that established the Consulate and the Empire styles (for illustration see Empire style); although these terms were invented by later art historians to denote the change in political systems, in fact the styles to which they refer are virtually indistinguishable. Furniture was similar to that of the preceding Directoire style...

Article

Stephen T. Clarke, Harley Preston and Lin Barton

English family of silversmiths, industrialists, collectors, and patrons, of French origin. The family originated from the town of St Pierre on the Ile d’Oléron off La Rochelle. They arrived in London a few years after the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685, and between 1708 and 1780 three generations of Courtauld silversmiths were registered at the Goldsmiths’ Company. Augustine Courtauld (c.1686–c. 1751) was apprenticed to Simon Pantin in 1701 and, after becoming a freeman of the Goldsmiths’ Company in 1708, he started a business as a plateworker in Church Court, off St Martin’s Lane in London. The majority of his work is of high quality, for example a silver tea-table (1742; St Petersburg, Hermitage) and the state salt of the Corporation of the City of London (1730; London, Mansion House). Augustine’s brother Pierre Courtauld (1690–1729) registered a mark in 1721...

Article

[Du Plessis; Duplessy.]

French family of goldsmiths, bronze founders, sculptors and designers, of Italian descent. Due to the similarity in name, there has been some confusion between father and son and the attribution of their work; they are now generally distinguished as Duplessis père and Duplessis fils. Jean-Claude Chambellan Duplessis [Giovanni Claudio Chiamberlano] (b Turin, ?1690–95; d Paris, 1774) practised as a goldsmith in Turin before his marriage in 1720 and probably worked for Victor Amadeus II. He moved with his family to Paris c. 1740, perhaps encouraged there by Juste-Aurèle Meissonnier. In 1742 he was commissioned by Louis XV to design and make two large, bronze braziers, presented to the Turkish ambassador Saïd Mahmet Pasha (e.g. in Istanbul, Topkapi Pal. Mus.). From c. 1748 until his death he was employed at the porcelain factories of Vincennes and Sèvres as a designer of porcelain forms and supplier of bronze stands. He also supervised and advised craftsmen. In ...

Article

French family of bronze-founders. Etienne Forestier (b Paris, c. 1712; d Paris, 1768), who became a master bronze-founder in 1737, supplied bronze furniture mounts to Jean-François Oeben, André-Charles Boulle and Gilles Joubert. He cast Jean-Claude Chambellan Duplessis’s models for bronzes on the Bureau du Roi by Oeben and Jean-Henri Riesener (1769; Paris, Louvre). The Forestiers feature in the accounts of the Bâtiments du Roi from 1755 until the Revolution. After Etienne’s death his widow and sons Etienne-Jean Forestier and Pierre-Auguste Forestier (b Paris, 1755; d Paris, 1835) continued the Parisian bronze-founding business from a workshop in the Rue Ste Avoie, Etienne-Jean having become a master in 1764. Their customers included Louis-François de Bourbon, Prince de Conti. The Forestiers also appear frequently, particularly from 1784 to 1788, in the accounts of the Garde Meuble de la Couronne under the directorship of the sculptor Jean Hauré, regarding bronzework for King ...

Article

Hélène du Mesnil

(b Rodez, Aveyron, Oct 25, 1777; d Paris, May 4, 1858).

French sculptor and medallist. He trained in Paris as a goldsmith with Jean Baptiste Claude Odiot before turning to the engraving of medals; about 1808 he joined the workshop of the gem-engraver and medallist Romain-Vincent Jeuffroy. In 1819 he showed his first work of sculpture, a marble statue in Neo-classical style of Cupid Testing his Arrows (untraced), at the Paris Salon. In 1823 he became medal-engraver to Charles X, and he remained a prolific engraver of commemorative and portrait medallions throughout his life. He competed unsuccessfully in the competition (1829) for allegorical sculpture for the pediment of the church of the Madeleine, Paris. That same year, however, he received an official commission for two seated marble statues representing the Power of the Law and Universal Suffrage for the courtyard of the Chambre des Députés, Palais Bourbon, Paris; these ponderous and academic works were not put in place until ...

Article

Kelly Donahue-Wallace

[Gil y Pérez, Gerónimo Antonio]

(b Zamora, Spain, Nov 3, 1731; d Mexico City, April 18, 1798).

Spanish printmaker, medallist, and type designer, active in Spain and Mexico. He was one of the first students at the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de S Fernando in Madrid (founded 1752), which awarded him a pension to train as a medallist from 1754 to 1758 under Spain’s Engraver General, Tomás Francisco Prieto (1726–82). In 1760 the academy named Gil Académico de Mérito for his medal-engraving skills.

Upon completing his studies, Gil briefly served as drawing instructor at the S Fernando academy but worked principally making copperplate engravings, letter press type, and medals. He was a frequent contributor to luxury books sponsored by the Real Academia de Historia and the S Fernando academy, including the so-called prince’s edition of Don Quixote (1780) and Antigüedades árabes de España (1787). He spent more than 15 years designing type for the Real Biblioteca, and was credited by his peers with rescuing the Spanish type-making industry. The finest works he carried out in Spain included the engraved illustrations for ...