A Pair of Massive Louis XVI Giltwood Wall Trophies

May 9 2011, 4:15pm

These magnificent sculpted appliques, circa 1770, closely follow the various designs for trophies produced by the celebrated French architect, decorator, and professor of design Jean Charles Delafosse (1731-1792.) Delafosse first published his collection of ornamental engravings entitled Nouvelle Iconologie Historique in 1768. His designs are featured in collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the British Museum, the Louvre Museum, the Tours Museum of Fine Arts, and the Ashmolean museum of Art and Archaelogy at University of Oxford, among others. He is also responsible for designing two hôtels at 58-60 Rue du Fauborg Poissonière, Paris (1776-1783.) His work was pivotal to the evolution of the goût antique, the type of neoclassicism which was characteristic of the Louis XVI period in France. The present appliques can be closely compared to two pairs of trophies designed by Delafosse between 1767-77. The first is a pair of military trophies representing Athens and Macedonia. The are centred with the same distinctive angled portrait busts, and feature a fabric swag as do the portraits centring the present pair.

Another pair of trophies by Delafosse representing Pastoral Attributes also contain similar wheatsheafs to those featured on the present appliques, and may represent on this current pair the seasons of Summer and Autumn.

The painter and gilder Jean-Félix Watin offered assistance with executing furniture and objects after Delafosse’s engravings, tempered with the warning, “…If one should seek to follow his [Delafosse's] designs in all their intricate detail, the cost of doing so would surely be too high for even the most wealthy private person.”1 Given the scale of these objects and the quality and intricacy of their execution, it seems likely that they formed part of a commission for one of the great noble, perhaps even Royal French interiors. Footnotes: 1. Svend Eriksen, Early Neo-Classicism in France, London, 1974, p171.