A Soft-Paste Sèvres Porcelain Figure of a Nymph on a socle, 1762
The figure with two incised marks underneath, the one on the left unidentified, and on the right T. This is found on a biscuit figure of Psyche in the Wallace Collection [C494]. The socle with incised mark scrolling capital M.
Falconet exhibited the marble of this Baigneuse at the Salon in 1757; it had been ordered by the financier Thiroux d’Epersenne and it later belonged to Madame du Barry. This marble figure is now in the Louvre and is 80.5 cm high. It may derive some inspiration from François Lemoyne’s painting of 1724, which was in the collection of Etienne-Michel Bouret, one of the original shareholders in the factory. The engraving of this painting by Laurent Cars of 1731 was not bought by the factory until 1764 and it was used as the inspiration for a painted reserve on several occasions, such as for a vase à bâtons rompus of about 1770 in the Wallace Collection [C271].
Falconet himself may have been responsible for the plaster model of this figure which was first produced at Sèvres in 1758. The figure was initially sold at a price of 144 livres, reduced in late 1760 to 120 livres.
The pedestal is of the same shape as the more frequently found socle which accompanies the Amour Falconet and its pendant pair a seated Baigneuse but it is on a rather larger scale, which is appropriate given the size of the figure. Very few surviving examples of this large socle are known.
The base’s decoration is unusually elaborate. On the bleu lapis ground there are three types of very fine gilding: caillouté, trelliswork and oeil-de-perdrix. The reserve on the front is full of symbolism: two doves with a lit torch, a shield holding two hearts pierced by an arrow, a bow and a quiver of arrows, and an open book with the letters ACREO for Anacreon, the ancient Greek author of love poems.
The two side reserves depict aquatic themes: water gushing from an urn, symbolising a spring, and a fishing rod, fish and a net. The rear reserve has flowers.
The first sale of this model of Baigneuse on a pedestal took place on 25 June 1762, to Madame de Pompadour, with the pedestal costing 96 livres. She bought with it the Amour Falconet and its pair, also on pedestals at the same price.
Private Collection, UKEnquire