Objects and their Doubles

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Decorative Arts Drawings in the Musée d'Orsay Collections

Félix-Jacques Duban
Paris, France, 1797 - Bordeaux, France, 1870

During his time in Italy, Duban was struck by the architecture and décor of the Quattrocento and the Renaissance. He had an outstanding career; restoring Blois and the Sainte-Chapelle, drawing up projects for Chantilly, building the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, and renovating prestigious houses such as Dampierre. He was known for his fondness for decoration and polychromy, and was highly versatile and eclectic (in the positive sense of the term) being curios and enthusiastic about all styles; Gothic, Renaissance, Rococo through to the Classicism of Versailles. Duban was also a remarkable object designer, the finest example of which is his design for the Duchess de Parma's dressing table which he executed for the goldsmith Froment-Meurice.

Design for a tureen from a table service commissioned by Salomon de Rothschild

drawing
Maison OdiotDesign for a tureen from a table service commissioned by Salomon de Rothschild© Musée d'Orsay, dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Patrice Schmidt
The baron Salomon de Rothschild, who from 1820 lived in Vienna, assigned an important commission for a silver table service to the Maison Odiot. All that remains of the service today are a dozen drawings, one of which is presented here, the rest being housed at the Berlin Kunstbibiothek. Odiot apparently turned to Duban as early as 1835 for compositions for this table service. The drawing is highly accomplished technically and gives a good idea of the effects the goldsmiths and engravers entrusted with the execution would seek to achieve. Given the importance of the commission and the prestige of the patron, this drawing is most likely the work of Duban himself even though the style here is rather reminiscent of that of industrial designers specialised in silver. Perhaps it was reworked by the designers of the maison Odiot ? Whatever the case, such a project evidently required a dominant Renaissance note, which resulted here in intertwined griffins, rams heads, cherubs, masques and foliage, gadroons and rows of pearls.

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