Chantilly porcelain manufactory <br/>
France, 1730/35–1792<br/>
<em>Pair of figures: Crouching Venus and The Knife-grinder</em> c.1740–50<br/>
soft-paste porcelain<br/>
20.4 x 17.9 x 14.6 cm (Venus), 22.5 x 14.8 x 13.3 cm (The Knife-grinder)<br/>
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne<br/>
Purchased through The Art Foundation of Victoria with the assistance of the Wynne Morris Collection, Governor, 1997 (1997.325.1-2)<br/>

Unique pair of Chantilly porcelain figures


This apparently unique pair of Chantilly figures was last recorded in the Paris 1913 sale catalogue of the Halinbourg collection. 

The models are ultimately derived from two famous antique marbles known from the Medici collections. Leading sculptors made copies, both large and small, of these marbles and in the seventeenth century fine versions were made to decorate the palaces of Louis XIV at Versailles and at Marly. Such free copies were highly regarded works of art. These glazed figures of Venus and her companion represent a Baroque interpretation of the antique. Fluid modelling is combined with a particular emphasis on torsion. 

The factory at Chantilly began about 1730 under the protection of Louis-Henri, duc de Bourbon and prince de Condé, and in 1735 letters patent for the factory were granted to Ciquaire Cirou (1700–1755). Chantilly produced many oriental figures, but European figures were few. The factory inventory of 1754 included nine white figures intended for decoration of the dessert table, which was a major form of social expression at this period. The present works may have been intended for a similar function. 

Through the Art Foundation of Victoria, the Wynne Morris Collection funds the acquisition of early European white porcelain. Complemented by gifts made by Mr Peter Wynne Morris, this ongoing project has created a distinguished group of French soft-paste porcelains, which forms a focal point of the Gallery’s decorative arts collections. 

Margaret Legge