"Ferdinand Barbedienne - Neo-greek Style Cup In Algeria Onyx Marble ; Gilt Bronze And Cloisonné"Of a rare elegance, this cup on pedestal is made of onyx-marble from Algeria, mounted on chased gilt bronze and decorated with cloisonné enamel.
It has two handles decorated with mascarons representing bearded men with hair that is prolonged by snakes.
The cloisonné enamel offers to the sight a decoration of polychrome arabesques.
The base is signed F. BARBEDIENNE.
This cup was presented and created by the maison Barbedienne at the World Fair in London in 1862, rewarded with three medals for Excellence, star and pioneer in London for its technique of enamel called cloisonné enamel on art objects.
Period: Second Empire / Napoleon III
Origin : France, Paris
Height: 19 cm.
Length: 33 cm.
Diameter of the cup: 21 cm.
The onyx marble of Algeria appeared successfully during the Second Empire. Delmonte, a marble mason from Carrara in Italy, having set out to find the transparent marbles used in Antiquity and having searched in vain in Southern Europe, Asia Minor and Egypt, began prospecting in 1843. In 1849 he discovered in the province of Oran a quarry formerly exploited by the Romans, which produces what will be called the marble-onyx of Algeria: translucent material, a compromise between marble and alabaster, and which exists in many shades and variations (white, yellow, red, green ...). After having exposed the raw material in 1855, he cedes his rights in 1858 to the Compagnie des Marbres Onyx d'Algérie founded by Alphonse Pallu. The vogue for this material is consecrated by the Universal Exhibition of 1862 where the Company, which had an agency in London and exhibits, obtains a medal. This is all the more interesting since this cup was presented, as we said above, at this same World's Fair of 1862.
This cup was made by the company created in 1839 by Ferdinand Barbedienne, bronzier and publisher, and Achille Collas, inventor of the process for the mathematical reduction of sculpture. Under the name "Collas and Barbedienne", they specialized in reproductions according to the antique and developed new chemical processes for coloring and patinating bronzes. Present at all the major World's Fairs of its time, the maison Barbedienne was regularly rewarded, notably at the 1862 London World's Fair, where Barbedienne presented so-called "cloisonné" enamels. Somewhat forgotten, the art of enamel was reborn at the height of the Second Empire. The first attempts by the Maison Barbedienne in this field seem to date back to 1858. Four years later, at the Universal Exhibition in London, the enamel-encrusted objets d'art presented on the Barbedienne stand, including this cup, caused a sensation. Imperfectly described at the time as "opaque cloisonné enamels flush in the manner of the ancients", these enamels are actually closer to medieval champlevé enamels. The technical innovation of the Parisian firm consisted in obtaining the network of partitions directly from the cast iron, which are thus of great precision. The cut presented here is thus quite representative of this renaissance of enamel and the techniques developed by Barbedienne.