Bronzes. - The intimate customs of the Exhibition. - Electric telegraphs inside the Palace. - Froment Meurice and Mortimer. - Works of art: Clesinger, Pradier.
Everyone agrees, in London, to admire the part of the French Exhibition which includes bronzes, and in particular, clocks. We know what superiority the Denières, the Susses, the Duponchels have acquired in this genre: let us examine the various manufacturers who have followed in their footsteps and who have conquered the first rank.
Mr. Victor Paillard is one of these manufacturers, such as we like to see them produce: He is the worker who has become an artist; beginning with studies of little importance at first, and gradually rising, through the love of art, to take a step towards Industry.
We could not praise this exhibitor more highly than by borrowing the following appreciation from Mr. Léon Feuchères' report on him:
"Pupil of Chenavart for the art, and of Martinot, a skilled chiseller, for the manufacture of bronze, Mr. Victor Paillard began his industrial career with an establishment of small bronzes known as presses or paper-ends. The already appreciable merit that emerged from these modest productions earned him entry as the first head of the workshop in the large factory of Mr. Denière père. After seven years of management as skilful as it was intelligent, combined with a rare assiduity and unquestionable probity, Mr. Victor Paillard founded a company on his own, which he brought to the highest level of bronze production in a short time. For the first time, he appeared at the Exhibition of 1839, and at first won a silver medal; in 1844 a new silver medal was awarded for new efforts and new successes.
In 1849, M. Paillard was judged worthy of receiving the gold medal. "
Unfortunately, he felt he had to present himself this year only escorted by his reputation and he exhibited only objects that had not been worked on for the 1831 exhibition. Perhaps, it must be said, the appeal to industry should have been made earlier to the future exhibitors; and it is a noteworthy fact that industry, caught somewhat unprepared, has produced the masterpieces which are admired in London.
It proves that work in countries where industrial property tends to take a firm footing, is incessant, does not wait to produce a definite opportunity, and, in a moment of surprise, always arrives in time.
Here are the main objects exhibited by Mr. Victor Paillard:
A large Louis XIV candelabra. A bronze child is placed on the gilded base, as in the great church candlesticks. He carries a horn from which a bouquet of seventeen lights emerges. This piece is beautiful as a whole and of a broad execution. It was exhibited in 1849.
A clock crowned with children playing with birds, sculpted by Charles Yon, in the taste of the Louis XV period. The accompanying candelabras, in the same style, are made with great care and gilded, the figures in semi-matte, the ornaments in ground gold. Exhibited in 1844.
A beautiful renaissance clock and two candelabras.
The clock is composed of two reclining figures of women, between which rises a small vase. It was exhibited in 1841. The candelabras are hardly related to it, although the ornaments of the bouquet and the base show a great analogy with the decoration used in the clock.
Indeed, the modelling of the figures is in the Louis XVI style, and they are none other than the children with hunting horns in the Sèvres Museum.
The charming little clock of the Angel with harpsichord, by Sauvageau, exhibited in 1849. This small group in silvered bronze, full of graceful feeling, is mounted on a black marble base, and accompanied by two pretty vases-candlesticks well in connection with the clock.
A beautiful group of Daphnis and Chloe, by Jean Feuchère, executed in bronze in a manner with which the artist must be fully satisfied: exhibited in 1849.
A group of two Lovers disputing a heart.
This piece was cast on an old Sèvres biscuit: exhibited in 1849.
A stoup, the shell of which is supported by two bronze angels: exhibited in 4844.
A reduction of Pradier's Sapho, silvered bronze, dating from 1848.
A pair of Louis XV vases, in soft porcelain, decorated with modern paintings. These vases are mounted in gilt bronze. It is to be regretted that the style of the bronzes is not pure enough, and that the paintings do not have the character of old Sèvres.
Finally, a very large clock with girandoles, in a composite style, which is neither Renaissance, nor Louis XIV, nor Louis XV, but which is all the more commendable, in that it bears the particular character of nineteenth-century ornament. Of all the objects exhibited by M. Paillard, this clock is, without question, the best executed. The mounting is very commendable, and the chiselling bears the obvious trace of a skilful and practised hand.
Only these last two objects have never been exhibited. Moreover, it is not only Mr. Paillard who should be reproached for this, and we have no doubt that, had there been sufficient time, our bronze manufacturers would have been ready and would have delivered new works. It is easy to understand the difference between this part of the industry and many others.
The manufacturers of furniture and fabrics, and even the builders of machines, are forced to keep their workshops constantly at work: novelty and progress in science demand an incessant preoccupation, which nothing should slow down and which no opportunity should activate.
Whereas the art of the bronzier, who has produced several models, cannot, at the whim of fashion, produce something new all the time: it needs a certain amount of time for its works to flow: this is one of the main obstacles to innovation in their production.
Here is a list of the works of some of them:
M. Vitoz exhibits: L'Amour tourmentant l'Ame, by Chaudet.
Benvenuto Cellini and Bernard de Palissy; Satan defeated; Poetry; Music; Foyatier's reduction of Spartacus; Michelangelo, etc., by Jean Feuchère.
Three Children bearing grapes; the Three Hours of the Day Clock, large model, with matching candelabras, composed of children bearing sheaves of light, by Pascal.
Fortune awakening a sleeping child on the edge of a well, by Pradier.
Centauress and Faun, after the plaster by Courtet, exhibited in 1849 in the orangery of the Tuileries.
L'Amour préludant sur la lyre; l'Amour préludant sur la flûte; l'Amour réparant son arc; l'Amour préparant ses traits; le Chant divin by Lemire.
Daphnis et Chloé, by Cayrard.
Indian Huntress, by Cumberworth.
Scène du Déluge, by Jacquet, of Brussels.
L'Amour captif, by Faikiu, also of Brussels.
We must point out a fact which is all to the glory of our country, although we cannot attribute the honour to the very artists who are the cause of it. For several years now, French artists have been crossing the Strait and have found in our neighbours resources which, by enriching them, have become for the English a very effective means for the progress of the industrial arts.
It is, for example, that a skilful statuary who had, among other things, made almost all the models which adorn the splendid hotel of M. de Rothschild, M. Jeannest, left Paris, nearly ten years ago, and enriched several houses in England with his works.
M. Combette, whose name is very well known in the goldsmith's trade, is one of the principal artists to whom the reputation of the Carrard house in London is due: and this year we should have seen at the Exhibition a vase of great beauty which is still, at this time (and one wonders why?) in the workshops of that house.
The same can be said of Messrs. Storr and Morlimer, who at least did not neglect to exhibit the Vechte shield this year.
Moreover, it is not to complain about this that we make this observation. It is obvious that as long as the glory of our country is revealed even abroad, it will result, from the point of view of art, in the double object of propagating the name of France and advancing the question of progress in the arts: only, it would be lionish to point out this truth, even to the jury of the awards.
We call his attention to this point.
In one of our last numbers we gave a drawing of the beautiful clock exhibited by Messrs. Susse frères; here is the list of the objects which came out of their rich workshops for the London Exhibition:
Hebe pouring ambrosia to Jupiter's eagle; Sapho seated: two clocks with matching candelabra, by Pradier; the Phryue, by the same sculptor.
The two soldiers of the league, candelabra; Philibert-Emmanuel, by M. Marochetti.
William the Silent, by M. de Nieuwerkerke.
Joan of Arc, by Princess Marie.
Le Porte-Drapeau de la 32" demi-brigade; Le Grenadier de la vieille garde, by A. Levéel.
The ancient Euterpe, reduced by the Sauvage process.
Several other less important statuettes.
The watch of Mr. J.-B. Marchand presents a small number of objects which are all clocks. Let us mention three of them whose success as a manufacture, and beauty as works of art, deserve the highest praise.
The Fable; A woman sitting on an antique bed, wearing a colburne, reveals herself smiling, and appears naked up to her hips. On the bronze base are bas-reliefs whose subjects are taken from the little dramas of Aesop and Lafontaine. The composition of this beautiful piece is by Klagmann.
The Thinker, by Gechter, a very beautiful figure expressing inspiration, placed on a black marble base.
Cleopatra defying Antony to be more prodigal than she is, by Cumbenvorfh, a group in which the artist has managed to combine I don't know what charming coquetry with the best captured Egyptian character.
These three manufacturers have been rewarded by the French juries of the last exhibitions. M. Vilfoz received the silver medal in 1849; MM. Susse frères, the bronze medal in 1844, and the recall of this medal in 1819; M. Marchand, the bronze medal in 1819.
We will speak only for the record of a few other objects exhibited by other manufacturers, which have not yet attained the degree of perfection found in "them" that we have just mentioned.
However, we must add, and this without partiality (it is the general cry), that, in spite of their inferiority to those who hold the first rank in France, the manufacturers whose names follow are far superior to the English:
MM. Lerolles frères, Weygand, Grignon-Meusnier.
M. Boyer, who received the bronze medal in 1844 and was recalled in 1849, has exhibited only a very few bronzes of careful execution. Among them are two Renaissance-style clocks with their candelabras: one in gilded bronze, the other in steel with rotating dials; another clock in the same style, whose figures probably represent the Past, the Present and the Future; the statuette of Charles the Semeraire, by Jechter, and that of John the Fearless; a beautiful horse and its reduction, by Pau) Gayrard, as well as the monkey races by the same sculptor.
In a room separate from the one devoted exclusively to bronzes and goldsmiths, we see two or three medallions exhibited by M. Buignier. The largest of these small compositions represents the battle of Brenneville. The disorder of the battle is well expressed, the drawing full of movement, the casting successful.
MM. Lévy frères exhibited a complete collection of soft paste porcelain clocks, mounted in gilded bronzes, of good manufacture for the trade.
The showcase of MM. Miroy frères is rich, brilliant and numerous.
Two equestrian statues can be seen: those of Napoleon and the Duke of Wellington
- It is interesting to read the following details given to the editor of the Journal des Débats by Mr. John Lemoinne on the intimate mores of the London Exhibition and of some manufacturers:
"Let us continue, if you please, our wandering errand through the curiosities of the Exhibition. Go to the Crystal Palace on an ordinary day, a Monday, for example, at ten o'clock in the morning; you will see the arrival of the province, and that of the schools; you will find again those four-horse carriages such as we used to see on all the roads before the invention of the railways, with four Inside seats and about twenty outside. From these heights one sees an indefinite number of Englishwomen in brightly coloured toilettes. After touching down, they quietly readjust their dresses and give them back that prodigious development which betrays the abuse of the crinoline. I am very angry about this, but it is impossible to use all the resources of art better to spoil nature. Then come the big vans or the big carts bringing in boarding houses or charity schools.
It is a curious thing to see this landing; I could never have conceived, until I saw it, what one could cram animated creatures into a narrow space without suffocating them. They come out, they come out by the fiftieths; when you think it's over, it starts again; it's stronger than Robert Houdin's.
"But let's go in. One of the main advantages of the Crystal Palace is the very large number of exits; you are not obliged to return to the starting point. If by chance you have left your carriage at one end, and find yourself at another, do not worry; you have at your command a clever and quick slave who runs faster than a footman. While walking through the galleries you have passed several times by small boxes guarded by a little boy of twelve or fourteen years of age; these are the correspondences of the electric telegraph. In a few minutes you can call your car from the other end of the building and drive it to any door you like. The telegraph is still at your command to communicate with all the principal railway stations, and from there with the principal cities of the kingdom. From the middle of the Exhibition you can have anything you like said at Dover, Bristol, Edinburgh, anywhere. One pays one sh. for twenty months, the price naturally increasing with the distance. A dispatch of twenty words to York or Edinburgh costs 8 1/2 sh. Another thing; you can do your mail at the Exhibition, there is a letter box in the transept.
Then, here is how Mr. Lemoinne appreciates the establishments of Storr-Mortimer and Mr. Froment-Meuric, of which we have had occasion to inform our readers.
"The English jewellery is very beautiful, but I do not know if it can be called English, because it is, for the most part, the work of foreign workers. What the English do best is flatware; and that kind of ornament which consists of silver vases and statuettes. This is a national style; testimonials are widely consumed here; they are offered for racing prizes, for hunting prizes, for a speech in Parliament, for the construction of a railway or a bridge. They are family furniture, the ornament of sideboards and tables; it is a speciality of art and industry developed by the taste and habit of horses, hunting, and what is called sport. There is at Storr and Mortimer's a silver shield, as yet unfinished, whose subjects are taken from Shakespeare and Milton, and which is an admirable work of art. It is to be placed with the shield of Cornelius, of which I have spoken, and also with a vase in oxidised silver, by Wagner, which is in the Exhibition of the Zollverein, and whose figures, representing the various degrees of civilisation, are of a rare perfection of drawing and execution. The showcase of Storr and Mortimer is of enormous value; it contains, among other things, a bouquet of 6,000 diamonds. There is more elegance in the objects exhibited by Morel, and this brings us back to France, where we find a real superiority in everything that is art and elegant luxury. We are crowded in front of the Froment-Meurice showcase, in front of the magnificent toilet offered by subscription to Madame the Duchess of Parma, and which I am content to point out, because it was exhibited in Paris.
We also find the sword offered to General Changarnier, the one offered to General Cavaignac, and Byzantine, Moorish and Renaissance jewels of infinite variety. It is in these works of taste that France triumphs; and what I could also classify as precious objects is the exhibition of silks and laces: the manufacturers of Lyon have exhibited all together; they have showcases which contain all the first choice articles, and which are thus, in their kind, something like the gallery of Florence or our square salon, a collection of masterpieces.
The magnificence of the design and the colour bring us closer together; they are real paintings, and there are mottled silks that can be compared to brilliant landscapes. While we are talking about landscapes, take care to look at the wallpaper sent from France. There are some, exhibited by Délicourt, which resemble silk or Gobelins carpets. "
Then, dealing with works of art, here is how he appreciates French productions:
"Let us not stray too far from France, we have not yet seen Sèvres or the Gobelins. Here we are the undisputed masters: this room is a small kingdom that no nation competes with us; foreigners flock there to admire and also to buy, because almost everything has long since been sold. It is on this side that Pradier's Phryne is, and then a bacchante by Clésinger, which was bought by M. Demidoff. Russia has also made a sumptuous exhibition. Palaces will have to be built especially to accommodate the enormous doors and the large malachite vases that fill the hall. It's a bit heavy, but it's a real magnificence. Mr. Demidoff has also exhibited pieces of malachite and gold from his mines. Here are some policemen on duty; there must be some jewels over there. Indeed, Russia has exhibited some very fine diamond ornaments, mounted with great lightness; and a black marble box, with bunches of black grapes in amethysts and cherries in carnelians. In general, there is in this Russian exhibition a certain air of wild grandeur and luxury; it is still only the riches torn from nature and torn from the bowels of the earth. "
© Palais de Cristal – Journal Illustré de L’Exposition de 1851