The European Decorative Arts Company offers extremely rare objects of gilt-bronze by the Parisian bronze founder, Ferdinand Barbedienne. Also represented are Champlevé enamel and bronze works by Nicholas-Germain Charpentier, Constant Sévin, and Désiré Attarge.
Our recent catalogue, titled "Objects for the Collector," in which Barbedienne objects from our collection were featured for the first time in our publication and includes extensive essays and references on the history of the firm and of the objects offered.
In-person viewing of our extensive collection can be arranged at our by-appointment-only showrooms.
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Group of Champlevé Enamel Objects Probably designed by Sévin & Manufactured by Barbedienne, Circa 1870-90
Ferdinand Barbedienne (1810-1892) and Louis Constant Sévin (1821-1888)
Gilt-bronze and Champlevé enamel
Each inscribed F. BARBEDIENNE
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Barbedienne is perhaps best known for his Orientalist-style enamel wares produced simultaneously with Neo-Gothic objects, but eventually eclipsing it with the growing popularity for the exotic in decoration. Various political, economic and artistic episodes took place in France and other countries (particularly Greece and Algeria) that led to the fascination, among artists and the public, with North Africa and Near East from the early 19th century. From the 1820’s until the turn of the century, the market for Orientalist pictures with Algerian and Moorish scenes went unabated, to satisfy the insatiable love for these newly discovered lands, full of mystery and exoticism.
The firm’s chief designer, Constant Sévin, responded to this trend and could have used various sources for inspiration. A likely and covenient wellspring may have been Owen Jones’s Plans, Details and Sections of the Alhambra (1836-45) which for the first time organized with ‘archeological exactness’ the Moorish, Islamic and Turkish styles, and “a major stimulus to the use of Islamic flat pattern by designers”.1 About Barbedienne’s display at the 1867 Paris Exposition, Alfred Darcel noted in the Gazette des Beaux-Arts that objects in the ‘Persian’ taste and the ‘Indian’ taste were prevalent and Jules Mesnard commented in his Merveilles de L’Exposition Universelle de 1867 that Barbedienne showed various jars, cups and a quantity of “things covered with palmettes reminiscent of Kashmire textiles”.2
The present group of bowls and vases are all decorated with intensely coloured enamels in patterns closely related to what Mesnard was referring to and similar designs can be found in A. Racinet’s L’Ornement Polychrome (1869-1887), or Owen Jones’s Grammar of Ornament of (1856), see fig. 34, variously described as either being in the Indian, Persian or Arabe styles . A concerted effort was made by Sévin to use historical styles and ornament as inspiration but in a redefined manner and without direct precedent.
1 Simon Jervis, Art and Design in Europe and America 1800-1900, Victoria and Albert Museum, 1987, p. 12
2 Jules Mesnard, Les Merveilles de L’Exposition Universelle de 1867, 3 Vols, London 1863.