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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Pair of Vases and a Salver (dated 1879) by F Barbedienne and F Levillain
Manufactured by Ferdinand Levillain (1837-1905) and designed by Ferdinand Barbedienne (1810-1892)
Height of vases 44 cm Width 15 cm. Diameter of salver 34.3 cm. Height 11 cm.
Inv. #192 and Inv. #352
Each piece inscribed F.BARBEDIENNE and signed F.LEVILLAIN The vases each inscribed above the portraits ARIADNE AND BACCVS
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One of the earliest references to Barbedienne’s products in the Neo- Gréc style is at the Paris Exposition of 1855. The Art Journal illustrated two bronze vases and a tripod “....formed and ornamented on the best models of the ancient Greeks”, for which they won a Medal of Honour, and soon after was acquired by the Victoria and Albert Museum. Many of the earliest designs were most probably executed by Henry Cahieux, who died in 1855 and about whom very little is known. At this time Constant Sévin was hired as chief designer and most designs can now be attributed to him. Ferdinand Levillain was the highly skilled craftsman with a medalist training who executed Sévin’s designs (see next catalogue description for more on Levillain), although it is generally believed that Levillain also executed designs as well.
As with the Orientalist style, the Neo-Gréc style in the decorative arts was a response to sytlistic trends taking place in contemporary painting. The Neo-Grécs or Pompeistes, as Gautier called them, were a group of artists, most notably Thomas Couture and Jean Léon Gérôme, who looked back to Greek vase and Roman wall painting for inspiration. The term Neo-Gréc (or Les Neo- Grecques) was used because it was believed that these artists were continuing the ‘le style Gréc’ of the early Neo-Classicists, David and Ingrés. The renewed interest in antiquity was also manifested in the reinterpretation and translations of ancient literature gaining momentum in Paris in the 1840’s.
Napoleon III himself propagated the antique style most pervasively, for as ‘Emperor’ he was continuing the tradition begun by Napoleon I in associating himself with past Roman Emperors and their Empires. As the author of the Vie de Cesar, the Emperor acquired in 1861 the Campana collection of Greek, Etruscan, and Roman antiquities. Eventually the Emperor commissioned Barbedienne to execute in silver a copy of a coupe from the Alesia excavation, which he had sponsored.