This small rectangular painting in stamped pewter leaf, gilt with gold leaf and enhanced of silver, gouache and coloured varnishes, depicts a maritime landscape animated with figures in a decorative frame with a gold border. The peculiarities of pewter and gold are highlighted by a delicate engraving work that brings relief to the composition. The attention to detail is reflected in the refinement of the polychromy. The scene on the left depicts the village entrance, designated by a large door in arch, flanked by several buildings including two towers, one cylindrical, the other rectangular. Each element is underlined by delicate work of guilloche, enhanced with gold and gouache. Two couples, one with a child, are wandering around the shores.
In the center, numerous boats with oars led by men crisscross on the water, which mirror effect is evoked by silver enhancements. In the distance, moored, several sailboats can be seen while the silhouette of the buildings can be distinguished. On the right, the verdant coastline is scattered of aquatic vegetals, amongst them, a house can be identified.
Paintings in Compigné
Of great preciousity and variety of materials, the paintings in Compigné were made according to a mysterious process starting from a sheet of tortoiseshell or cardboard to which a pewter or gold leaf was applied. The surface could then be decorated with gold, silver, gouache and colored varnishes. These “miniatures”, known today under the name of Compigné, had a great success in the 1760s.The small format, characteristic of this production, required to work in extreme precision, probably with the help of a magnifying glass, to develop the perfection of these technical details and colors.
Arrived from Italy, probably around 1750, Thomas Compigni took the name Compigné when he settled under the sign of Roi David, rue Greneta, in Paris. As an ivory turner, he specialised in the manufacture and sale of boxes, knitting sets, draughts and chess sets, snuffboxes and other cane handles of blond tortoiseshell inlaid with gold. Renowned for the quality of his objects, he passed on to posterity through the production of precious paintings whose technique remains mysterious today. In 1773, he presented two views of the Château de Saint-Hubert to the King and obtained the title of “tabletier privilégié du Roi” under Louis XV and Louis XVI. His themes of predilection are most often views of towns, monuments and castles from the perspective of parks or landscapes animated by small characters.