Philippe Caffieri (1714 - 1774)


Caffieri, Philippe, known as Caffieri l'aîné. Sculptor and bronze-founder. Born in 1714, died in 1774. Son of the bronze-founder Jacques Caffieri, who held the title of sculpteur et ciseleur ordinaire du Roy. His younger brother was the sculptor Jean-Jacques Caffieri. In 1751, he married Antoinette-Rose Lambert Rolland, whose father and brother were successively premier valet de chambre in the household of the Prince de Condé.<br>Caffieri studied under his father and also attended the drawing-school of the Académie de Saint-Luc. In 1743, his parents managed to have transferred to him the privilege hitherto granted to his mother, of being 'marchande doreur graveur damasquineur suivant la Cour' 'pour faciliter son établissement' ('to help set him up'). In 1747, he and his father formed a partnership. He became a maître-sculpteur in 1754 and was made a member of the Académie de Saint-Luc where he was later to become a juré. His father died in December 1755 and he became proprietor of the workshop in the Rue Princesse and took over the family concern's stock of models, for which he paid compensation to his brother. A month later (on 16th January 1756) he was accredited maître-fondeur en terre et sable without having had to produce a masterpiece, simply because his father had been a maître-fondeur.<br>Judging from the inventories drawn up on the death of the father and then of Philippe himself, it seems that the latter enlarged the establishment to some extent after having taken it over. In 1770 there were six work-benches whereas in his father's day there had been but four. For comparison, it may be noted that Pitoin had only two benches in his workshop in 1777. Apart from bronze-casting equipment, Caffieri also possessed taps and dies for the production of screw-threads. Furthermore, four sculptor's stands (établis) and an easel are listed. Caffieri's prosperity is also reflected by the not inconsiderable quantity of table-<br><br>silver he owned - totalling 74 marc in weight and valued at 3,774 livres as bullion, e.e. almost twice as much as his father had possessed.<br>When his wife died in 1770, Caffieri had an impressive stock of fire-dogs, sconces, candlesticks, candelabra, etc., partly in the form of models and partly as finished goods. In all, there were something like a hundred pieces, valued at 16,154 livres. The descriptions show that only a small proportion of this stock was in the Rococo taste, and that some of these pieces were in fact produced during the father's life-time. The rest were clearly in the Neo-Classical style. It is noteworthy that the stock did not apparently include ordinary mounts for furniture.<br>Among the sculptor's independent work, produced after the father's death, were the rich bronze mounts for Lalive de Jully's furniture (about 1756-57), executed after designs by Le Lorrain. Then there were some sconces in the form of hunting-horns for the Palace of Saint-Hubert (1758), fire-dogs made for the marquis de Marigny (1758), an altar-set for Notre-Dame (started in 1760), various works for the Polish Court at Warsaw (1766-68), some designs for a silver toilet-service intended for the Princesse des Asturies (1765, executed by Pierre Germain and Thomas Chamelier), some chandeliers, fire-dogs, etc., for the Prince de Condé (1769-70), an altar-set for the Church of Saint-Nicolas du Chardonnet (about 1770), a 'girandole à cinq branches' for the Comte d'Orsay (1770-71), and an altar-set for the Cathedral at Bayeux (1771).<br>Most of the gilding of Caffieri's work seems to have been carried out by Pierre-François Carpentier to whom he owed 14,580 livres in 1774. The fathers of the two men had incidentally worked together in the same way. Other craftsmen who collaborated with Caffieri were the bronze-founder Pierre-François Boitard to whom he owed 8,181 livres in 1774, and the bronze-founder Louis-Barthelemy Hervieu who was owed 6,313 livres. There was also Georges-Alexandre Moreau, a bronze-founder, who was Caffieri's creditor to the tune of 2,118 livres.<br><br>Our picture of Philippe Caffieri is filled in when we study the contents of his respectable art-collection and library. Among his oil-paintings were five by Chardin, two by Lagrenée l'aîné and one by Le Geay - an oval painting entitled Fragment du Temple de Jupiter, et le Tombeau de Sectius. He possessed works by Saly, Falconet and Challe, along with drawings by Pajou, François Boucher and Fragonard. Among his works on architecture were the engraved designs of Marot, Palladio, Vignola, Le Pautre, Vitruvius and Le Roy's Les Ruines des plus beaux monuments de la Grèce, as well as the Comte de Caylus' compilations. He had Roman Vedute by Piranesi, Le Geay and others, together with 188 engravings of 'vases' and 170 of 'ornemens'. And it comes as no surprise that he also possessed some engravings of Vien's works.