Jean-Baptiste PILLEMENT (Lyon 1728 - Lyon 1808)

Ornamental Design with Flowers and Ribbons Sold

Black chalk, with stumping.
Signed J. Pillement at the lower left.
173 x 277 mm. (6 7/8 x 10 7/8 in.)


This charming, whimsical drawing of stylized flowers is a study for one of eight etchings published in London in 1760 as Recueil de differentes Fleurs de Fantasie dans le goût chinois, Propres aux Manufactures d’etoffes de Soie et d’Indienne, inventées et dessinées par Jean Pillement et gravé par P.C. Canot.

Pillement created numerous designs of fleurs de fantasie throughout his career, intended as designs for silk embroidery, textiles or wallpaper. Many of these were reproduced as series of prints, with several published in London around 1760. As a recent scholar has noted, ‘His flowers could be realistically drawn or painted with his usual finesse and delicacy, but many, if not most, are the creations of his irreverent imagination. Some names of the folios are characteristic: Fleurs de Caprice, Fleurs de Fantaisie, Fleurs de Plumes, Fleurs de Pomponade, Fleurs Persannes, Fleurs Baroque, Fleurs Idéalle, Fleurs de Goût, Fleurs Singulières, and others. In these multiform creations one can see the full scope of the artist’s extravagant fancy. The viewer is baffled at first: the flowers seem to be flowers, but they are not, although they could be...However, most of his quaint flowers are innocently lovely whether single or gathered in a composition sometimes interwoven with bows of ribbons, and they are never ordinary or dull.’

Another scholar has written that ‘Of all the many men who specialized in the minor arts of decoration during the eighteenth century, Pillement stands out because of the sheer delight which lies in his completely nonsensical work. Groups of flowers or seed-pods are arranged in marvellous patterns, which are the more entrancing because they have no apparent rhyme or reason.’

A comparable design for chinoiserie flowers is among a group of ornamental drawings by Pillement in the Rothschild collection at Waddesdon Manor, while other, similar studies of flowers are in the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Lyon.

Private collection, France
Anonymous sale (‘Succession de Monsieur et Madame X’), Paris, Hôtel Drouot [Piasa], 8 December 2006, lot 55.

Jean-Baptiste PILLEMENT

Ornamental Design with Flowers and Ribbons


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