Assiette républicaine

  • Designer / Manufacturer

    Designed by Félix Bracquemond (1833-1914)

    Manufactured by Lebeuf Millet et Cie, Creil et Montereau

  • Detail

    Printed and painted faience

    Diameter: 24 cm

    French, circa 1868

  • Inscribed / Signed / Marked

    ‘CE SOLEIL LA ME FAIT PEUR 1868’ and initialled ‘B’ (for Bracquemond); the printed mark on the back has been effaced, but there remains an impressed figure ‘1’

  • Provenance

    Perhaps a member of the Jing-lar Society, who may have been the original recipients of these plates (see notes, below); […]; Tayler & Fletcher, 2020; English art market

  • Literature

    Jean-Paul Bouillon, Félix Bracquemond 1833-1914 Graveur et céramiste, Paris: Somogy éditions d’art, 2003, p. 10 (for a discussion of this pattern) and fig. 2

  • Notes

    Only three examples of the Assiette républicaine are thought to survive, in addition to the one offered here. One is reportedly in a French private collection; a second is held by the Château de Montrottier, Lovagny (inv. 2487; Bouillon, fig. 2), and a third at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris (33907).

    Bracquemond’s preparatory watercolour for the design of this plate, dated 1866 is held in the Musée Carnavalet, Paris (D.169).

    An example of the etching of the final design relating to the plate, from the collection of Philippe Burty, belongs to the Metropolitan Museum of Art (22.1.34).

    The eagle decorating the plate here is a symbol of Empire, or more directly Napoleon III, and is shown hissing: ‘Ce soleil la me fait peur‘, at a shining Phrygian cap representing Liberty. Together the red, white and blue of the bonnet, clouds and sky make a version of the French flag, the tricolore, centred on a symbol of Liberty, a backdrop that appears to be forcing the eagle from its narrow foreground ledge.  At the time of this plate’s production France was ruled by Napoleon III (reign 1852-70), and this design was clearly seditious.  Perhaps that explains why the maker’s mark was removed?  It is thought that model was never intended for commercial production and, according to Jules Champfleury (1821-89), Histoire des Faïences Patriotiques sous la Révolution, Paris: E. Dentu, third edition, 1875, pp. 298-99, only about 12 examples were made. These were given as gifts by Bracquemond to fellow Republicans, largely his friends from an artistic circle, who met as the Societé du Jing-lar.

    The British Museum holds Bracquemond’s membership card for the Society (1925, 1212.44). The museum’s online record of this item notes:

    The ‘Société du Jing-lar’ was a semi-secret confraternity of japonistes and Japanophiles, artists and writers, who apparently met almost monthly throughout the 1860s to discuss Japanese art, dress in kimonos, and eat with chopsticks; founding members included the three earliest defenders of japonisme, Bracquemond, Burty and Ernest Chesneau (all three were artist-critics), other members being Henri Fantin-Latour, André Jacquemart, Alphonse Hirsch, M. L. Solon.

    Another example of the membership card, Alfred Beurdeley’s, is held by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (2018.30), and a third, Philippe Burty’s, is at the New York Public Library.

    For more on the Jing-lar see Bernard Bumpus, ‘The ‘Jing-lar’ and republican politics: drinking, dining and japonisme’, Apollo, March 1996, pp. 13-16.