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Two characters – Louis XV

Two chiselled, lacquered bronze and silver characters.
Attribués à Étienne-Simon Martin et Guillaume Martin. 

Provenance: most probably belonged to the Marquise de Pompadour.
Galerie Kraemer

J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles.

These characters were painted and lacquered using vernis Martin (which was invented in 1728 by the Martin brothers). This technique resembled corpal-based lacquer; it emulated the very expensive lacquers from China and Japan, and allowed the craftsman to apply them to rounded surfaces. Each of these characters sits on a bronze pedestal where a chiselled, painted “C couronné” (a C with a crown) can be seen.

This marking refers to a tax on copper alloys that was in force between 1745 and 1749.

In September 1752, the marchand-mercier (merchant) Lazare Duvaux wrote in his diary that he was to “clean and restore two lacquered figures holding sugarcanes, and polish the sugarcanes and silver flowers” for Madame de Pompadour, Louis XV’s mistress. She was an important art patron whose brother contributed to the rise of the Louis XVI style. Lazare Duvaux’s diary suggests that these decorative figures once belonged to her.