A Good Pair of Napoleon III Bronze Urns with Covers After Claude Michel Clodion c.1870

Origin: French
Period: 2nd Empire
Provenance: Unknown
Date: c.1870
Height: 15.25 inches
Width: 9 inches

The fine pair of late nineteenth century French bronze urns decorated overall in the manner of Clodion, the lid finials cast as reclining amorini, each with lift-out liners and twin handles cast as fruiting vines, the friezes with further cavorting putti in relief, with waisted and fluted undersides standing on ebonised wooden plinths bases.

The condition of the urns is relatively good. There are some deficiencies to the bases with the ebonisation with wear, one with a repaired crack and with a hole to each which has been later filled, possibly the urns were used as lamps for a period. The patina to the bronze is pleasing and the copper(?) liners being original to the urns. There are a couple of small dints and the lids do have some uneven edges.

Claude Michel (December 20, 1738 – March 29, 1814), known as Clodion, was a French sculptor in the Rococo style and was one of the most creative and technically gifted French sculptors in the second half of the eighteenth century. Clodion worked mostly in terra-cotta, his preferred subject matter being nymphs, satyrs, bacchantes, and other Classical figures sensually portrayed. Clodion fused the movement and energy of the Baroque seventeenth century with antique themes in a lighter, more delicate and more subtly sensual style than previously achieved by contemporaries. He was also, with his brothers, a decorator of such objects as candelabra, clocks, and vases. Perhaps because of his apparent unwillingness to be seriously monumental, he was never admitted to the Royal Academy. Nevertheless, after the Revolution had driven him in 1792 to Nancy, where he lived until 1798, he was flexible enough to adapt himself to Neoclassical monumentality—the relief on the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel, representing the entry of the French into Munich, is an example.

The bacchanalia were rites originally held in ancient Greece as the Dionysia and were wild and mystic festivals of the Greco-Roman god Bacchus (or Dionysus), the wine god. The term has since come to describe any form of drunken revelry. Putti like this are a classical motif found primarily on child sarcophagi of the 2nd century, where they are depicted fighting, dancing, participating in bacchic rites, and playing sports.

Quintessentially Rococo.