A very rare Paris, Dihl et Guérhard, biscuit porcelain bust of Napoleon Bonaparte (French, 1781–ca. 1824) as First Consul, circa 1800

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Lot 11
A very rare Paris, Dihl et Guérhard, biscuit porcelain bust of Napoleon Bonaparte (French, 1781–ca. 1824) as First Consul, circa 1800

Sold for £ 50,250 (US$ 67,898) inc. premium
A very rare Paris, Dihl et Guérhard, biscuit porcelain bust of Napoleon Bonaparte (French, 1781–ca. 1824) as First Consul, circa 1800
Naturalistically modelled, the front incised BONAPARTE., on its original porcelain base imitating tortoiseshell and decorated with a classical gilt border of anthemions, 40cm high incised 'Mf de Dihl / & Guerhard'

Footnotes

  • This extremely rare biscuit, with its original base, is probably the only representation of Bonaparte by the 'Dihl et Guérhard' manufactory to have been rendered in the form of a bust. It was undoubtedly an imperial order, particularly since the only other example that we know of is on display at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art (incomplete, without its base), accession no. 1991.209.

    'Dihl et Guérhard' was without a doubt the most prestigious of all the Parisian porcelain manufactories. Founded in 1781 under the Ancien Régime, the company reached its zenith under the Consulate and the Empire, before falling into decline and shutting down under the Restoration in 1823. It was renowned for its sophisticated decoration and the virtuosity of its craftsmen. From 1811 to 1813, they crafted a porcelain dinner service for the Empress Josephine that ranks among the most lavish ever made – and probably one of the most expensive as well, at the colossal price of 46,976 francs in total.

    Under the protection and patronage of Louis-Antoine Duc d'Angoulême Guérhard and Dihl opened a hard-paste porcelain factory, in 1781, in the Rue de Bondy. Dihl, a man of broad scientific attainments, is credited with being the first to establish a complete palette of colours that could be used for the decoration of hard-paste porcelain. This factory successfully reproduced all the underglaze coloured grounds used at Sèvres and all the colours for over-glaze painting. In addition to tableware, vases and ornaments of exquisite quality, enriched with the most elaborate decoration, a great quantity of excellent biscuit pieces were produced. In 1797 Christophe Dihl married in 1797 Antoine Guérhard's widow, and together they continued running the factory.
    In spite of the manufactory's triumph at the 1806 Paris International Exhibition and its important customers, the factory began to decline. In 1812 Mrs. Dihl travelled to London to try and sell several cases of porcelain, probably the 184 lots put into an auction by Christie's in 1813. The factory managed to survive, thanks to private loans, several mortgages and due to prestigious orders such as the service for Empress Joséphine (1811-1813). However, eventually the factory had to close down. Dihl died on 12 February 1830 and Madame Dihl on 10 July 1831, at the age of eighty and financially ruined. Two public sales were organized in 1830 and in 1831 and all remaining works sold.
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