Le Saut de l’Amour and les Lutteurs d’Amour

  • Artist

    Charles Lepec (1830–1890)

  • Detail

    Enamel on copper (?) with silver-gilt border, in their original ebonised wood and velvet-lined frame

    Each enamel approximately 11 cm (square); frame 26 × 40.5 cm

    French (Paris), 1860–61

  • Inscribed and signed

    Le Saut de l’Amour signed ‘C LEPEC’ (on the quiver) and Les Lutteurs d’Amour signed ‘CH LEPEC’ (on the quiver, far right)
    Le Saut de l’Amour inscribed on the reverse ‘No 125 / Dernière plaque /du coffret, les prouesses de / l’amour / 9 plaques à sujets 12 [?] plaques d’ornement Charles LEPEC / I.P.V. / 1 [/] Juillet 1860 24 Nov 1861’
    Les Lutteurs d’Amour inscribed ‘CHARLES LEPEC ‘INV. PINX. VITR. / anno 1861 / etatis 31 / N0 115 / 8 FEVX’.  Hand-written paper label to reverse of frame: ‘No 5 / £75’

  • Provenance

    The artist, from whom presumably acquired by Robert Phillips, Cockspur Street, London, through whom acquired by Alfred Morrison (1821–1897); sold by Mabel Morrison, Christie’s, 25 January 1899 and following two days, day three, lot 393 (part), see cat. no. 8, above, bt Giuliano; […]; private collection, Cadogan Square, London, and by descent; Cheffins, Cambridge, 9 December 2020, lot 56, to Sinai & Sons

  • Exhibited

    Almost certainly Paris Exposition Universelle, 1867 (lent by Morrison)

  • Literature

    Olivier Hurstel and Martin Levy, ‘Charles Lepec and the Patronage of Alfred Morrison’, Metropolitan Museum Journal 50, 2015

    Olivier Hurstel and Martin Levy, ‘The Apotheosis of Charles Lepec: his participation at the Paris Exposition Universelle of 1867’, Decorative Arts Society Journal, 41 (2017)

  • Notes

    Lot 393 in the 1899 Christie’s catalogue includes: ‘A PAIR OF SMALLER DITTO [enamel plaques], with “Le Saut d’Amour” and “Les Lutteurs d’Amour”— by the same [Charles Lepec]; and a pair of circular ditto, with busts of Laura and Marguerite – in ebonised frames’ £6.6s Giuliano.

    The inscription on the back of Le Saut de l’Amour establishes that it was the last of nine pictorial plaques made for a coffer celebrating ‘love’, created between July 1860 and November 1861. As with other Lepec plaques intended for a coffer, it is unclear whether or not the present examples were ever mounted into what would have been a large object; see Hurstel and Levy (2017) for plaques dated 1864, figs 7 & 8, and n. 39. There is insufficient evidence to suggest that the present enamels relate to the unidentified ‘grand coffret’ lent by Morrison to the 1867 Exposition Universelle; see Hurstel and Levy (2017), p. 40.

    The imagery in Les Lutteurs d’Amour has parallels in other works by Lepec. The playing putti can be compared with those at the base of a carved ivory, dated 1870; see Hurstel and Levy (2015), fig. 22.