Pair of Spanish carved wood and gesso, polychrome and gilt decorated Egyptomania Sphinxes
Pair of Spanish carved wood and gesso, polychrome and gilt decorated Egyptomania Sphinxes
Pair of Spanish carved wood and gesso, polychrome and gilt decorated Egyptomania Sphinxes
Pair of Spanish carved wood and gesso, polychrome and gilt decorated Egyptomania Sphinxes
Pair of Spanish carved wood and gesso, polychrome and gilt decorated Egyptomania Sphinxes

Pair of Spanish carved wood and gesso, polychrome and gilt decorated Egyptomania Sphinxes

c. 1820 Spain

Offered by Thomas Coulborn & Sons

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Possibly inspired by the designs of Jean-Demosthene Dugourc (1749-1825).

Carved wood, polychrome and gilt decorated. On original wooden veneered bases.

Jean-Démosthène Dugourc (1749-1825): This unusual pair of sphinxes may have been inspired by the designs of Jean-Démosthène Dugourc (1749-1825). The French architect served as a furniture designer to the French crown and before becoming first architect to King Carlos IV of Spain. His outstanding projects for the Spanish Court included the Casita del Principe at El Escorial and Casita de Labrador in Aranjuez where he was responsible for the interior decoration. A great favourite of the King, he remained in Spain for 14 years.

Born and raised in Versailles, Dugourc designed costumes and stage decorations for opera, whilst also serving as the superintendent of buildings and designer of Garde-Meuble for the Duc d’Orléans. In 1764, he travelled to Italy, where he became familiar with the antique. After returning to France, he worked for prominent patrons and encouraged the taste for arabesque and Etruscan style, using motifs such as sphinxes, figures of Graces, winged women playing the lyre, snakes, scrolls and cornucopias. Dugourc was appointed ‘Architecte et Déssinateur du Cabinet de Monsieur’ (the brother of Louis XVI) in 1780. The following year he furnished designs for costumes and decorations for the Royal Opera in Stockholm. In 1783 he was appointed ‘Directeur des costumes à decors de l’Opéra’ in Paris and in 1784, he became ‘Déssinateur de Garde Meuble de la Couronne’.

‘Egyptomania’ is the term used to describe a renewed European interest in ancient Egypt following the French Campaign in Egypt and Syria (1798–1801), led by Napoleon Bonaparte. At the beginning of the nineteenth Century this campaign led to extensive scientific study of ancient Egyptian remains and culture and inspired ‘an attempt to naturalise Egyptian motifs and symbolism’. Egyptian detail became the vogue and Egyptian motifs pervaded not only nineteenth Century interior design and decorative arts, but also influencing literature, architecture, politics and park design. The use of this decoration was restricted to those who could afford expensive ‘objets d’art’. In her chapter on ‘The Egyptian Revival’ in ‘Regency Furniture: 1795-1830’ (Country Life Limited, London, 1965), Margaret Jourdain comments that: ‘Farington, who visited Paris in 1802, noticed in Napoleon’s private apartment in the Tuileries that ‘the Egyptian figure [of] the Sphynx made part of the frame work of the Chairs in one of the apartments’’. This pair of sphinxes would have featured in such a scheme, forming part of an ‘Egyptomania’ themed interior.

Carlos Saguar Quer, author of the essay ‘La Egiptomania en la Espaňa de Goya’ (op.cit.), noted the similarities between the sphinxes offered here and the carved marble sphinxes installed at the Palacio de Liria in Madrid as early as 1776, while also noting similar characteristics with the sphinxes sculpted in lead by Francisco Elias in a monument for the Duchess of Osuna in 1837.
Private Collection, Madrid.
Bibliography:
Margaret Jourdain, revised and enlarged by Ralph Fastnedge, ‘The Egyptian Revival’ in ‘Regency Furniture: 1795-1830’, Country Life Limited, London, 1965, pp.25-27.
Carlos Saguar Quer, ‘La Egiptomania en la Espaňa de Goya’ in ‘Goya’, May-June 1996, Fundación Lázaro Galdiano, Madrid.
Carlos Saguar Quer, ‘Egiptomanía y arquitectura en España (1840-1940)’ in ‘Goya’, July–October 1997, pp.386-406.
Dimensions
Height 46.00 cm (18.11 inches)
Width 61.00 cm (24.02 inches)
Depth 23.00 cm (9.06 inches)
Stock Code
6340
Medium
Carved wood and gesso, polychrome and gilt decorated.
Thomas Coulborn & Sons

Thomas Coulborn & Sons
Vesey Manor
64 Birmingham Road
Sutton Coldfield
West Midlands
B72 1QP
England

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