Charles PERCIER (Paris 1764 - Paris 1838)

A Design for a Jardinière, with a Relief of Venus and Apollo Sold

Watercolour, and pen and black ink.
Laid down on a larger sheet, possibly an album page.
210 x 153 mm. (8 1/4 x 6 in.)


Typical of Charles Percier’s refined and highly detailed watercolours, this design for a jardinière - commissioned by a certain Monsieur E. in Paris, who remains unidentified - can be dated to between 1801 and 1805. The drawing reappeared in Percier and Fontaine’s most influential work, the Recueil de décorations intérieures, published in 1812, a date that serves as a terminus ante quem for the design. The description of the jardinière in the Recueil, where it is illustrated together with a design for a small side table, states: ‘Tea table and jardinière, made to be isolated in the center of a room. These two pieces of furniture are executed in mahogany and bronze. One can recognize from the refinement and perfection of the work that they are from the workshop of MM. Jacob.’

Many years later, the art historian Henry Havard illustrated this same jardinière in his monumental Dictionnaire de l’ameublement et de la décoration, published between 1887 and 1890. As he wrote, ‘Meanwhile, on the advice of Percier, the cabinetmaker Jacob made a number of very remarkable pieces, as architecture and as ornamentation, the drawings of which have fortunately been preserved. We reproduce two of them here, and the opulence of these pieces of furniture, the care which Percier has taken of designing so many varied models, indicates that it was around this time that the jardinière completed its adaptation to elegant interiors and to take the place in Parisian houses which it has not ceased to occupy since then.’

This watercolour by Percier was formerly in the archival collection of cabinetmaker François-Honoré-Georges Jacob-Desmalter (1770-1841), who oversaw one of the most important furniture workshops in Paris in the first quarter of the 19th century. A similar jardinière was produced by Jacob-Desmalter, after a design by Alexandre Dufour, for the Princesse d’Eckmülh at the Château de Savigny.

The archives of the workshop of François-Honoré-Georges Jacob-Desmalter, Paris.

Charles Percier and Pierre-François-Léonard Fontaine, Receuil des décorations intérieures, comprenant tout ce qui a rapport à l’ameublement, Paris, 1812, pp.34-35, pl.44 (‘Jardiniere éxecutée à Paris pour M. E**’); Henry Havard, Dictionnaire de l’ameublement et de la décoration depuis le XIIIe siècle jusqu’a nos jours, Paris, 1894, Vol.III, pp.94-95, fig.69; Jean-François Belhoste, ‘Percier and François Honoré Georges Jacob-Desmalter: The Origins of Modern Furniture Design’, in Jean-Philippe Garric, ed., Charles Percier: Architecture and Design in an Age of Revolutions, exhibition catalogue, New York, 2016-2017, pp.176-177, note 28.


A Design for a Jardinière, with a Relief of Venus and Apollo


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