The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
Pedestal
  • Pedestal
  • Charles de Wailly (1730 - 1798) , Designer
  • Robert-Joseph Auguste (1723 - 1805), Bronze Chaser
    Augustin Pajou (1730 - 1809), Modeller, (bronze mounts)
    Jean-François Hermand, Modeller, (stucco half of the column)
    Jean Lafeuillade, Gilder
    Jacques Adam, Carver, (marble and porphryry vase)
  • France
  • 1761-3
  • Porphyry, stucco, gilt bronze and Carrara marble
  • Height: 168.2 cm
    Width: 70.3 cm
    Depth: 58 cm
  • Inscription: 'DV' Scratched
  • F291
  • Grand Staircase
Commentary
History
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • Designed by the architect Charles de Wailly (1730-98) for Marc-René d’Argenson, marquis de Voyer (1722-1782), a distinguished soldier who had also been director of the royal stud farms, this pedestal and the vase (F354) with which it is associated were displayed in the sumptuous Hôtel de Voyer in Paris which was remodelled in an advanced neo-classical style by de Wailly in early 1760s. The caryatid figures of the Erechtheion in Athens played a key role in the decoration of the hôtel’s interiors, as well as being the reference for the female terms of this pedestal. Tremendous skill was required to carve porphyry, a very hard rock first used in ancient Egypt and later beloved by the Romans. The vase was an old one, considered to be Antique, in the marquis de Voyer's possession but remodelled to de Wailly's designs by Jacques Adam (maitre 1746), best known for his later collaboration with Pierre Gouthiere on pedestals, chimney-pieces and a table for the duchess de Mazarin.

    De Wailly had studied at the French Academy in Rome and these designs are some of the first and most important early neoclassical works of French decorative art. His statement of account indicates that he employed some of the foremost artists of the day, who went on to become celebrated for their work in the neoclassical style. The mounts were chased by the goldsmith, Robert-Joseph August (1723-1905), who may perhaps have cast them as well, working after sculptural models by Augustin Pajou (1730-1809). The mounts were fire-gilded by Jean Lafeuillade (maitre 1747).

    The pedestal and the porphyry vase were recorded by Sir William Chambers in a drawing, annotated 'Various decorations in the Hôtel de Voyer, Ecole Militaire &tc', probably executed in 1774. The pedestal originally had white marble busts in place of the gilt-bronze busts that are now on it, which were substituted at some time after 1825, presumably for reasons of taste or, more likely, damage.