Ref. : 3518-10


Ferdinand Barbedienne.

Large "Chinese" Enamels Box.



France, Paris, circa 1870-1880

H : 15,1 cm / 5.9 in.
Ø : 20 cm / 7.9 in.



Large "Chinese" round box in French "champleves" enamels and gilded bronze.



Not signed, referenced model of  Barbedienne.
Model attributed to the Designer and sculptor Louis-Constant Sevin (1821-1888).






Louis-Constant Sévin (1821-1888), ornamentalist sculptor in charge of the design of art bronzes and furnitures for Maison Barbedienne between 1855 and 1888.

This box in  'champleves' enamels should be compared to the pieces presented by Barbedienne at the 1867 and the 1878 Paris Exposition Universelle and is iconic of the "Chinese"  trend of this period.

"Champleve" enamels by Barbedienne are present in several museums such as in France the Musee d'Orsay (Inv. OAO 1296 2 et OAO 1493) and the Musee des Arts Decoratifs de Paris (Inv. 5820)... In UK the Victoria & Albert Museum (Inv. 8026:1, 2-1862,  8033-1862 and 8034-1862), in USA the Metropolitan Museum of New York (Inv. 2008.267.1–.2 ), the Cleveland Museum of Art (Inv. 1996.295), the Carnegie Museum of Art of Pittsburgh ( Inv. 1999.49.3.A-B)... In Austria the Wien Österreichisches Museum für Angewandte Kunst (Inv. -Nr.Em 12/1867, 13/1867 et 15/67), in Russia the Musée of Tsarskoïe-Selo (Inv. ЕД 586 IV – 586 / 1 IV)... In Germany the Germanischen Nationalmuseum, Nuremberg (Inv. LGA2164)...

More information...

The Maison Barbedienne made a niche for itself in ‘opaque, flushed cloisonné (Fr.: ‘cell-work’) enamels fashioned to the taste of the ancients’.

In all its diversity, the art of enamelling experienced a rebirth in the heyday of the Second Empire. The polychromatic ornament, omnipresent in all of the decorative arts stemming from the period, was able to find its perfect expression in drawing on diverse historical and exotic sources.

The first endeavours made by the Maison Barbedienne to enter this domain took place in the years 1855-1858. Four years later, at the Universal Exhibition in London, their enamel-encrusted pieces would cause a sensation. Erroneously termed ‘fashioned to the taste of the ancients’ in its day (a period favouring opaque, flushed cloisonné (Fr.: ‘cell-work’) enamels), these enamel works were in reality more closely aligned with champlevé (Fr.: ‘raised field’) enamels of the Middle Ages. Technical innovation consisted in setting the level of the cloisons (Fr.: ‘cells’) directly on the surface of the cast, the design of which offered a cleanliness and unfallible regularity.

In 1862, working with onyx marble and enamel still very much represented new territory for the ever industrious and forward-looking Barbedienne. The combining of these two materials, which the Compagnie des marbres onyx d’Algérie also performed in the production of their creations, would continue to be practiced by both groups all throughout the 19th century.



Louis-Constant Sévin (1821-1888), French sculptor-ornamentalist and designer.

Upon the outbreak of the Revolution of 1848 Sévin went to London, where he became the foreman at the house of Morel. There he created numerous pieces which Morel would present at the Universal Exhibition of 1851 in London. Among them were the Renaissance-style hardstone bowls mounted on gold and enamel (Art Journal) which foreshadows the Perseus and Andromeda Bowl produced for  Henry Thomas Hope – Sévin’s most important work for Morel.

Returning to France in 1851, Sévin settled in Limoges where he created models for the porcelain manufacturers Jouhanneaud & Dubois. At the Paris Universal Exhibition of 1855 this house showed several of Sévin’s porcelain works, like for instance the Grand Ewer in biscuit-fired porcelain (Musée d’Orsay, Inv. ADL 3800) for which he sought help from Schoenewerk to complete the larger figures.

In 1855 Sévin returned to Paris and accepted a post as sculptor-ornamentalist with Barbedienne, whereby he became charged with the production of bronze furnishings. He would remain until his death in 1888.

Among Sévin’s most notable projects are his bronze furnishing designs for the Hôtel de la Païva toward the end of the 1850s, as well as his diverse pieces destined for the Royal Mausoleum erected in memory of Prince Albert (Frogmore, Berkshire). Belonging to his creations for the Maison Barbedienne are: an 1862 ‘Byzantine Vase’ in champlevé (Fr.: ‘raised-field’) enamel and gilt-bronze (V & A Museum, Inv. 8026-1862; Orsay, Inv. OAO 1296 1-2), a Renaissance-style mirror made in 1867 and replicated in 1878 (Orsay, Inv. OAO 1308; The Bowes Museum, Inv. 1992.5/FW), and the four metre high Renaissance-style Horloge Monumentale (Monumental Clock), presented at the Universal Exhibition of 1878 in Paris, bringing Sévin a Gold Medal and Barbedienne a Grand Medal.

Ferdinand Barbedienne (1810-1892), French bronze éditeur, objet and bronze maker.

Barbedienne commenced activities as a bronze maker in 1838 in association with Achille Collas (1795-1859), inventor of a mathematical reduction process of sculpture. As the foremost manufacturer of bronze in 19th century France, he would do castings of old and modern sculptures, as well as original bronze works designed by his studio and intended as pieces of furniture and decorative pieces.

Under the corporate name of La SOCIETE F. BARBEDIENNE et A. COLLAS, the two men’s house specialised in Antique reproductions and developed numerous chemical techniques for colouring and patinating their bronzes. From 1860 until his death in 1892 Ferdinand Barbedienne presided alone over the fate of the house which now traded as F. BARBEDIENNE et Cie.

Present at every one of the Expositions Universelles of the 19th century, the Maison Barbedienne received many awards, among them:
- Londres, 1851, deux Grandes Médailles (Council Medals),
- Paris, 1855, une Grande Médaille d’Honneur et onze Médailles de Coopérateurs.
- Londres, 1862, trois Médailles pour Excellence.
- Paris, 1867 Hors Concours.
- Vienne, 1873, deux Diplômes d’Honneur, la Médaille du Progrès et 25 Médailles de Collaborateurs.
- Paris, 1878, Grand Prix, Grande Médaille d’Or, Diplôme d’Honneur et 28 Médailles de Collaborateurs.
- Amsterdam, 1883, Diplôme d’Honneur
- Anvers, 1885, Diplôme d’Honneur
- Paris, 1889, Grand Prix et 25 Médailles de Collaborateurs...



Commercial catalogue :
Barbedienne, (F.), Catalogue des Bronzes d'Art 1886, Paris, 1886, p. 89

Revues :
Bascou, (M.), « Maison F. Barbedienne, Paire de grands vases d'ornement », dans 48/14, La revue du Musée d'Orsay, n° 2, Paris, 1996, p. 20, fig. p. 20.
Champier, (V.), « Les artistes de L'Industrie, L. Constant Sévin », dans Revue des Arts Décoratifs, t. XI, Paris, 1888-1889, pp. 161-176.
Child, (T.), « Ferdinand Barbedienne, Artistic Bronze », dans Harpers New Monthly Magazine, vol. LXXXIII, n° 436-33, Washington, 1886, pp. 489-504 fig. pp. 493, 497, 502, 503 et 504.
Darcel, (A.), « Les Arts Industriels à l'Exposition de Londres, l'émaillerie », dans Gazette des Beaux-Arts, t. XIII, Paris, 1862, pp. 538 à 547.
Luchet, (A.), « Courrier de L'Exposition Internationale. M. Barbedienne », dans Le Monde Illustré, t. XI, Paris, 1862, pp. 92-94.
Metman, (B.), « La Petite Sculpture au XIXe siècle », dans Archives de l'Art Français, t. XXX, Paris, 1989, pp. 175 à 177.
Rionnet, (F.), « Barbedienne ou la fortune de la sculpture au XIXe siècle » dans Bulletin de la Société de l'Histoire de l'Art Français, Paris, Année 2001, pp. 301-323.

Exhibition catalogues :
Didier Aaron, Catalogue, Paris-Londres-New York, t. X, Saint Laurent du Var-France, 2008, notice n° 46.
L'Art en France sous le Second Empire, Paris/Grand Palais, 1979, pp. 148 et 149.
Barbedienne, (F.), « Chapitre II, Bronze. - Spécialités. ,§1 Les Emaux » dans Classe 22, Bronzes d'Art, Fontes d'art diverses, Objets en Métaux Repoussés, Exposition universelle de 1867 à Paris. Rapports du Jury international, t. III, Paris, 1868, pp. 293-294.
Waring, (J.-B.), Masterpieces of Industrial Art and Sculpture 1862, London, 1863, pl. 139.

Books :
Alcouffe, (D.), Bascou, (M.), Dion-Tanenbaum, (A.), Thiébaut, (P.), Le Arti Decorative Alle Grandi Esposizioni Universali, 1851-1900, Milano, 1988, p.110, fig. 159 et p. 186, fig. 272.
Dognée, (E.-M.-O.), Les Arts Industriels à l'Expositions de 1867, Paris, 1869, p. 789.
Thiébaut, (P.), Orsay, Les arts décoratifs, Paris, 2003, p. 50, fig. p. 51.