Rare Patinated Bronze Group representing “The Parting of Hector and Andromache”, early 19th century

Pierre-Philippe Thomire

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Attributed to Pierre-Philippe Thomire,
Created under the direction of Louis-Simon Boizot after a bisque group of the Sèvres Porcelain Manufactory Rare Patinated Bronze Group representing “The Parting of Hector and Andromache” Paris, early 19th century, circa 1800-1810 Height 47 cm; width 33 cm; depth 26.5 cm

This very fine group featuring four figures illustrates one of the best-known episodes of classical mythology. The Trojan prince Hector is shown wearing a plumed helmet, a cloak, and antique armor. He embraces his wife Andromache, who is wearing a diadem and holds their son Astyanax in her arms as she gazes sadly at her husband. They stand next to a truncated column that stands on a rock. Behind them, a young woman holds the child’s cot. She may be either the nursemaid or Helen, who had become a friend of Andromache. The figures stand on a round plinth that is treated in a naturalistic manner. It bears the title “The Parting of Hector and Andromache”. The theme of the farewell of Hector, the Prince of Troy and the son of King Priam, and his wife Andromache, was frequently treated by Parisian artists and artisans beginning in the final decades of the 18th century. Taken from the Iliad, the famous epic poem by the Greek poet Homer, it depicts the moment when Hector, about to combat Achilles and certain he will be defeated, says goodbye to his loved ones. This iconography was given a different treatment in the clock that the Lepautes delivered in 1805, which was to be placed on the mantel of the Grand Salon of the Petit Trianon, and is today in the French Public Collections (illustrated in M-F. Dupuy-Baylet, Pendules du Mobilier national 1800-1870, Editions Faton, Dijon, 2006, p. 111, catalogue n° 47). The present group was cast in bronze after a Sèvres bisque statuette that was created circa 1797-1798 under the direction of Boizot; an example of that model is in the Louvre Museum in Paris (see T. Préaud and G. Scherf, La Manufacture des Lumières, La sculpture à Sèvres de Louis XV à la Révolution, Editions Faton, Dijon, 2015, p. 270). The group’s exceptionally fine chasing suggests it should be attributed to the talented bronze caster Pierre-Philippe Thomire. Thomire also worked with Boizot on another bronze group that is today in the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art (see T. Picquenard, “Catalogue de l’œuvre sculptée de Louis-Simon Boizot”, in the exhibition catalogue Louis-Simon Boizot 1743-1809, Sculpteur du roi et directeur de l’atelier de sculpture à la Manufacture de Sèvres, Musée Lambinet, Versailles, 2001-2002, p. 165-166).

Louis-Simon Boizot (Paris 1743-Paris 1809)   The son of painter Antoine Boizot, at a very young age he entered the workshop of sculptor Michel-Ange Slodtz. In 1762 he received the Premier prix in sculpture. Subsequently, he entered the Ecole royale des élèves protégés, in 1765 receiving his “brevet de pensionnaire” from the Académie de France in Rome. He arrived in the papal city in 1765 and stayed there until October 1770. During those five years, he studied the art of antiquity and its important sculptors, who had left examples of their art in Rome. Upon Boizot’s return to Paris, he had acquired fame and was accepted into the Académie royale de peinture et de sculpture, but did not become a member of the Académie until November 1778. He regularly exhibited at Parisian Salons and received important commissions, particularly for the Fontainebleau Palace and the Palais Bourbon. From 1774 to 1785, he was director of the sculpture workshop of the Royal Sèvres Porcelain Manufactory, supervising the creation of models over nearly a decade, and also playing an important role in the development of the decorative arts. After the fall of the monarchy, he became a member of the commissions for the conservation of the sciences and the arts. His workshop remained active in the early 19th century, taking part in the creation of the Fontaine du Palmier in the place du Châtelet, and participating in the decoration of the Colonne de la Grande Armée in the place Vendôme.   ​
 
Pierre-Philippe Thomire (1757-1853) was the most important Parisian bronzier of the last quarter of the 18th century and the first decades of the following century. Early on in his career he worked for Pierre Gouthière, ciseleur-fondeur du roi, and toward the mid-1770’s began working with Louis Prieur. He later became one of the bronziers attached to the Manufacture Royale de Sèvres, creating the bronze mounts for most of the important creations of the day. After the Revolution, he purchased the stock of Martin-Eloi Lignereux, thus becoming the most important suppliers of furniture bronzes for châteaux and Imperial Palaces. In addition, he worked for a wealthy private clientele, both French and foreign, including several of Napoleon’s Marshals. Thomire retired in 1823.

Object Name: Rare Patinated Bronze Group representing “The Parting of Hector and Andromache”, early 19th century
Artist name: Pierre-Philippe Thomire
Reference: O046
   
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