Large rectangular case (51 cm wide) in finely carved St. Lucie* wood.
It opens with a lid that rests on four crosspieces connected by a base.
All sides are fully engraved and carved with fine “à la Bérain” decoration of acanthus scrolls perched with birds.
The entire décor is studded with sunflowers, roses, daisies... sculpted in high relief and finely engraved in the background.
The borders are delimited by a double frame of carved and engraved acanthus friezes, which is echoed in the central part of the lid by the quatrefoil framing a large carved elegy scene.
The latter represents a military trophy made up of flags, drums, pikes, spears, cannons, cannonballs, powder kegs, sabres, lictor beams, shields... and two captives chained back to back.
The whole is surmounted by the large coat of arms of the Principality of Salm-Krybourg : (Quarterly : I and IV Or, a lion rampant Gules crowned Azure; II and III Sable, a lion rampant Argent lampassed Gules. On the whole, the escutcheon per pale: A Gules, three lions Or ; B per fess Gules, semé of crosslet crosslet fitchy Argent, two salmon adossé Argent, and Azure, a fess Argent).
Good condition, with minor damage and traces of wood-eating insects, and slight deformation of the bottom.
Work attributable to César Bagard, Nancy circa 1680.
Width: 51 cm ; Height : 10 cm ; Depth : 38 cm
Provenance : Comtes de Ganay family
Our view :
As the large coat-of-arms of the Principality of Salm-Krybourg indicates, our box was probably commissioned by César Bagard* at the end of the 17th century.
It is difficult to clearly establish the context of manufacture and the commissioner, who may have been Charles Théodore de Salm (1645-1710), but the trophy represented and the two captives refer us precisely to the end of a war, probably the Dutch War, which ended in 1678.
Our two captives are clearly inspired by Martin Desjardins*'s monument to the four defeated nations, erected in Place de la Victoire to commemorate Louis XIV's victory and the Peace of Nijmegen.
As on the basis of this set, which is now on display at the Louvre, we can see the Holy Empire in the guise of a resigned, bearded old man, and Spain symbolized by a young man with a muscular build and a vengeful look in his eyes.
The Dutch War was the perfect moment for César Bagard, who had just been appointed sculptor to the Duke of Lorraine.
The extraordinary size, the meticulousness and profusion of the carving, the civil decoration, with its representation of figures that are particularly rare in Bagard's work, and finally the presence of a princely coat of arms, make our casket an indisputable masterpiece of Lorraine sculpture of the Louis XIV period.
*Saint Lucia Wood, also known as Saint Lucia Cherry or False Cherry (Prunus mahaleb) is a shrub in the Rosaceae family and the Prunus genus.
It is fairly common throughout Western Europe, around the Mediterranean in Morocco and the Middle East, and in Central Asia.
It grows in shrubby thickets, open woods or scrubland, preferably on calcareous soils.
Other common names include quénot, canot, canonier, boutiga, Moussis (in Saintonge), amarel and prunier odorant.
The name "Bois de Sainte-Lucie" originated in Lorraine, at the convent of the Minimes de Sainte-Lucie-du-Mont, located on the heights of Sampigny in the Meuse department, where in the 17th century, religious objects were crafted from the wood of this species, which is abundantly found near the convent.
*César Bagard, known as le Grand César, was baptized on April 27, 1620 in Nancy (although other documents have mentioned the date 1639), and died in the same city on March 10, 1707. He was a sculptor active in Lorraine in the 17th century.
He was the son of Lorraine sculptor Nicolas Bagard, and apprenticed with painter Jean Gérard in 1633.
He then became a pupil of sculptor Nicolas Jacquin (?1625-?1695), who probably took him to Paris around 1659. Bagard's first works appear to have been undertaken in collaboration with the painter Claude Deruet, whom he assisted with decorations for the ducal palace in Nancy and with ephemeral decorations for the city's solemn entries in the years 1655 to 1658. His only recorded works dating from his stay in Paris are ephemeral statues of Hercules and Minerva, intended to decorate the Porte Saint-Antoine for Louis XIV's wedding celebrations in 1660.
His abundant work consists mainly of small pieces (chests, rare tobacco boxes, torches, frames, etc.) finely carved from St. Lucia wood.
*The four nations defeated by Martin Van Bogaert, known as Martin Desjardins.
The monument designed by Desjardins depicted the Sun King standing, wearing his coronation mantle and crowned by Victory. The statue, flanked by four figures of men in chains, rested on a pedestal adorned with bas-reliefs, the whole measuring over 12 meters in height.
Although the royal statue was destroyed by revolutionaries in 1792, the four large captives surrounding it have survived intact, and today occupy a place of honor in the Cour Puget of the Louvre Museum.
These captives symbolize the four nations defeated at the Treaty of Nijmegen. Each represents a different age of man and a different feeling about captivity. Spain is a beardless young man with long hair. The naked, erect body, face and gaze raised to the sky indicate hope. The Empire is a bearded old man. Head bowed, his body bends in resigned despondency. Hollande is a young man with a short beard. With his naked body ready to pounce and his fierce face, he represents rebellion. Brandenburg is a mature man whose contracted face expresses pain.
Price : on request
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