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Sèvres Biscuit Group

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Dates Circa 1774 - 1799
Medium Porcelain
Origin France
Description Sèvres hard paste biscuit group of La Nourice. Modelled by Le Riche under the direction of Boizot.

This unglazed biscuit porcelain group of four figures seated around a woman breastfeeding an infant had considerable resonance when it was first created in 1774. The figure at the right holding a bassinet is a servant; the other figures, including a young girl crouched behind the chair, and the young boy dressed in a military costume, reach behind the seated woman’s chair, obviously playing. Next to the servant, there is a small woven basket on the base that reinforces the genre elements of the scene.

While some critics maintain that bourgeois overtones of the group predominate, there are far more pertinent ties that can be established with the royal family, especially with Marie Antoinette, who became Queen of France in 1774. Can the group refer to the royal family? Is it a suggestion of the queen as the matronly mother of not only her own family, but of France itself? The theme transcends specificity, suggesting larger implications that are also contained in some of the canvases of Elizabeth Vigée-Lebrun who worked with similar themes in paintings that she exhibited at the Salons.1 In effect, the propagandistic message of this group seems significant for conveying a message.
Condition Restoration for Boy: left arm, feather to hat restored: Girl: index finger, one leg of stall, bow on Moses basket at rear. Manufacturing firing crack across base which has been stabilised, chip filled
Literature Tamara Préaud & Guilhem Scherf : La Manufacture des Lumières. La Sculpture à Sèvres de Louis XV à la Revolution p. 186, no.151