Colnaghi Foundation Journal 04 - Page 115



112
Reflections on a Chinese porcelain cat, seated on bronze cushion, once in the collections of Madame de Pompadour
paws, looking up in the air, posed on a cushion with
four tassels in bronze: the whole on a square plinth
with reinforcement and frieze of gilded bronze. Cat’s
height 8 inches (about 21.65 cm). Stands 2 inches 9
lines (about 7.49 cm). There is a restored ear”; JeanBaptiste-Pierre Le Brun, Catalogue raisonné des marbres,
jaspes, agates, porcelaines anciennes, laques, beaux meubles,
lustres, feux & bras de bronze doré par Gouttier, boîtes de laque,
lapis, & autres formant le cabinet de Madame la duchesse
Mazarin, sale catalogue, Paris, 10 December 1781,
no. 91) (auctioned at 1,800 livres). Despite its smaller
dimensions, this second cat was evidently quite similar
to the present one. It subsequently passed into the
collection of Joseph-Hyacinthe-François de Paule de
Rigaud, Count de Vaudreuil (1740-1817). LieutenantGeneral, great falconer of France, knight of the Kings
orders, peer of France, governor of the Louvre, free
member of the Academy of Fine Arts, Vaudreuil was
famous for his close friendship with the Count d’Artois
and benefited from the generosity of Queen Marie
Antoinette. The auction of his goods in 1787 included:
“A Cat (Antique Purple) on its paws, gazing in the air,
posed on a cushion with four bronze tassels, all on a
square plinth with reinforcement and frieze in gilded
bronze. Total height 11 inches (about 29.77 cm). This
Cat, the most beautiful known in this genre, with a
restored ear comes from the sale of Madame The
Duchesse de Mazarin, no. 91 in our Catalogue, & sold
for 1800 livres.” Jean-Baptiste-Pierre Le Brun, Catalogue
d'une très belle collection de tableaux […], bleu-céleste de la
Chine & autres porcelaines […] provenans du Cabinet de
M *** [the Ccount de Vaudreuil], sale in Paris, 26
November 1787, no. 212. This was acquired for 900
livres by Le Brun.
52. The annotated sale catalogue is also in the
Bibliothèque de l’Institut national d’histoire de l’art,
collections Jacques Doucet, where it is noted “1500LeBrun Lé.”
It is worth noting that the eccentric character of
Claude-Pierre-Maximilian Radix of Sainte-Foy (17361810) met with a singular fate, not only because he was
reputed to have been the last lover of the Duchesse de
Mazarin. In 1776, he was appointed “Superintendent
of Houses, Domains, Finances, Buildings, Arts,
Manufactures, and Gardens of Monsignor the Count
d’Artois.” However, his poor handling of finances led
to the auction of his own property. In this sale, JeanBaptiste-Pierre Le Brun bought: “A Cat (of porcelain
in blue of ancient China) sitting on its legs and placed
on a cushion with four acorns, in bronze; all on a
square plinth with reinforcement and frieze of gilded
bronze. Height 8 inches (about 21.65 cm), width 8
inches (about 21.65 cm)” (1,000 livres), Jean-BaptistePierre Le Brun, Catalogue raisonné de tableaux, marbres,
bronzes, porcelaines anciennes de première qualité, coloriée du
Japon, d’ancien violet, bleu célefte de la Chine & autres ; beaux
meubles de Boule, & autres de ce genre ; Meubles précieux de
Laque; Eftampes, & autres Objets de curiofité (Collection
53.
54.
55.
56.
57.
58.
59.
60.
61.
Claude-Pierre-Maximilien Radix de Sainte-Foy), sale
catalogue, Paris, 22 April 1782, no. 82; as well as “One
(Antique Purple) Cat seated on its paws, and resting on
a cushion of four bronze tassels; all on a square plinth
with reinforcement and frieze of gilded bronze. Height
7 inches (about 18.94 cm), width 8 inches (about 21.65
cm” (1,282 livres), Le Brun, Catalogue raisonné de tableaux,
no. 78.
Queen Marie Antoinette shared a taste for Asian
works of art with her Habsburg ancestors. It is worth
noting that in her gilded cabinet at Versailles she
exhibited “a cat idem (in porcelain of celestial blue),”
which was described in 1789. In 1793 “a recumbent
cat, in the same porcelain, on a cushion of gilt bronze,
placed on a pedestal of Italian cherry marble, total
height 6 inches (approximately 16.24 cm),” was sent to
the Museum (the current Musée du Louvre). François
Rémond (1747-1812) had fashioned the cushion on
which this Kangxi period (1662-1722) cat rested, and
Ange-Joseph Aubert (1736-1785) had decorated it with
a cherry marble base. Aubert sold it for 720 livres on 8
May 1782, to the Duke de Coigny (1737-1821), “a cat
of Japanese [sic] porcelain in celestial blue.” A further
“cat of Japanese porcelain in celadon blue, eyes of
enamel, resting on a cushion of gilded bronze placed
on a pedestal of cherry Italian marble” appears in an
1833 inventory bedroom of Ferdinand-Philippe Duke
d’Orléans (1810-1842), in the palace of Tuileries,
before his death; see Vincent Bastien, “L’orfèvrejoaillier Ange-Joseph Aubert (1736-1785), fournisseur
de la reine Marie-Antoinette,” Versalia – Revue de la
Société des Amis de Versailles 16 (2013): pp. 44 and 46.
Catalogue d’objets d’art de haute curiosité […] provenant de
feu Mr Doyen, sale catalogue, Paris, 6-11 March 1826,
no. 196. We are grateful to Vincent Richter for the
communication of this document.
Catalogue d’objets d’art de haute curiosité […] provenant de feu
Mr Doyen, no. 191.
Catalogue d’objets d’art de haute curiosité […] provenant de feu
Mr Doyen, no.194.
Catalogue d’objets d’art de haute curiosité […] provenant de feu
Mr Doyen, no. 195.
Cabinet de Mr H.***[oussaye], sale catalogue, Paris, 3-5
April 1834, Me Bonnefonds de Lavialles, no. 73.
Cabinet de Mlle Thévenin […], sale catalogue, Paris, 20
December 1819, Me Bonnefonds de La Vialles, no.
107.
Royal Collection Trust, inv. RCN 35312. See John
Ayers, Chinese and Japanese Works of Art in the Collection
of Her Majesty the Queen, 3 vols. (London: The Royal
Collection Trust, 2016), no. 1350.
Christie, Manson & Woods, London, 26 March 1863,
no. 344.
Salmon, Madame de Pompadour et les arts.
Reflections on a Chinese porcelain cat, seated on bronze cushion, once in the collections of Madame de Pompadour
113

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