About this artwork
This fountain, sculpted in high relief and painted in bright enamel colors, exemplifies both the ambitions of the pottery established at Sceaux, south of Paris, and the exuberance of the Rococo style of mid-18th-century France. A triton (a mythological sea deity resembling a merman), a nymph, and a scampering child pose on a rocky, shell-encrusted outcrop that projects over a dolphin-like sea creature from whose open mouth water flowed. Underneath, a large shell-shaped basin enriched with reeds and bulrushes, supported by rockwork and another sea monster, receives the water that streamed from above. The shell and reed decoration, characteristic of the Rococo, here also reinforces the aquatic theme of the piece.
A pottery had existed at Sceaux from around 1739, but it only truly prospered after the arrival of Jacques Chapelle as director in 1749. Chapelle seems to have had ambitions to produce porcelain at Sceaux but was prohibited by the state from embarking on this project, so as not to compete with the newly established porcelain manufactory at Vincennes. Forced to work in faience (the French term for tin-glazed earthenware) instead, he encouraged his workers to experiment with forms and color in order to create works that could rival porcelain.
Currently Off View
- European Decorative Art
- Sceaux Pottery and Porcelain Factory
- Wall Fountain and Basin
- Tin-glazed earthenware and polychrome enamels
- Mark: crowned fleur-de-lis in manganese above crossed feathers
- Fountain: 47 x 38 cm (18 1/2 x 15 in.); Basin: 22.8 x 45 cm (9 x 17 3/4 in.)
- Restricted gift of Kay and Frederick Krehbiel Endowment; Harry and Maribel G. Blum, Michael A. Bradshaw and Kenneth S. Harris, Annette M. Chapin, Richard T. Crane, Jr., Memorial, and European Decorative Arts endowments; through prior acquisitions of Mrs. Harold T. Martin