National Gallery of Canada / Musée des beaux-arts du Canada

Annual Bulletin 6, 1982-1983 

Annual Index
Author & Subject

Click figure 14 here for an enlarged image

Four Sixteenth-Century Painted Enamels

by Philippe Verdier

Pages  1  |  2  |  3  |  4  |  5  

Pair of candlesticks, Master I. C., third quarter of the sixteenth century (25) (fig. 14)

A large number of enamels bear the initials "I. C.". On these candlesticks they appear under the flanges. The initials are thought to stand for "Jean Court." Is this the enameller Jean de Court, who was also an official painter and was greatly esteemed in the Valois court, judging by his high salary of 480 francs a year in the last period of his life, 1580-1585? (26) The domed base of the candlesticks was executed in repoussé, with twelve painted enamel ovals on a black background. On the first candlestick, the ovals portray the twelve labours of Hercules, and are based on the engravings that Heinrich Aldegrever executed in 1550 from his own drawings. (27) On the other candlestick, the ovals depict twelve gods and goddesses of Olympus, after the engravings of the Protestant artist Étienne Delaune, inspired by Italian compositions. The base of each candlestick is connected by a scotia to the flange, which is fixed and flat. One of the flanges is decorated with a procession of musician amorini accompanying a putto astride a billy goat (fig. 15a), after another engraving by the Master of the Die (Bartsch 36), copying a Raphael drawing. On the other flange, there is a similar procession of amorini escorting Cupid, a putto carried in triumph in a chariot drawn by two goats, after an engraving by the Master of the Die (Bartsch 37), reproducing a Raphael drawing (fig. 15b). Master I. C. took some liberties with respect to his models, made some additions and removed the wings from his amorini. (28) Above the flanges, a baluster stem supports the socket for the candle or resin torch. The flange edges are decorated with ova, punctuated by four masks, some with feather head-dresses like those of Indians. (29) The baluster stem is decorated with caryatids, heads of cherubs, a festoon and bunches of fruit. The upper part is painted with gilt arabesques on a blue background.

This type of candlestick was still in use in France under Louis XIII (1601-1643). (30) The decoration on this pair constitutes a good example of the Limoges enamellers' use of engraved models and the combinations they created, for purely decorative purposes, using motifs drawn from all types of engravings. Three pairs of candlesticks signed I. C.," and a fourth pair from his studio appeared in the large exhibition at the South Kensington (now Victoria and Albert) Museum in 1862. (31) The embossed ovals of a single candlestick, in the Frick Collection in New York, feature six labours of Hercules alternating with six divinities, after the engravings by Heinrich Aldegrever and Étienne Delaune. The whereabouts of the other candlestick, with the twelve complementary designs, is unknown. (32) Two similar but incomplete candlesticks are in the Louvre. (33) Two bases of a similar pair are at the Musées royaux d'art et d'histoire in Brussels (nos 2238, a-b).

Next PageNotes 1 to 21

1  |  2  |  3  |  4  |  5

Top of this page

Home | Français | Introduction | History
Annual Index | Author & Subject | Credits | Contact

This digital collection was produced under contract to Canada's Digital Collections program, Industry Canada.

"Digital Collections Program, Copyright © National Gallery of Canada 2001"