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Bust of Apollo

Date : Around 1730

Nicolas Fouquay Factory

The theme of the seasons was revisited during the 1730s by Nicolas Fouquay (1686-1742) who, from 1720, had been running the manufacture previously owned by Louis Poterat. Using illustrative examples drawn from studies, particularly of Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Fouquay created a series of the four seasons, adding Apollo to preside over them. Several reproductions of the Seasons were made. The first was the most ornate, the busts draped with richly decorated floral fabric in an imitation of brocade and set on monumental pedestals. Acquired by the Duke of Hamilton in 1846 for Hamilton Palace, the series entered the Louvre collections following the sale of the Hamilton Collection in 1882, all apart from the Apollo bust, which was donated to the Kensington Museum (today the Victoria & Albert Museum) in 1857.

Fouquay’s moulds would produce at least three more series, as far as we know without pedestals. The three busts in the Musée de la Céramique differ from the Hamilton series in the monochrome treatment of the drapery and the less extravagant hair arrangements. The quality of the busts suggests that a classically trained sculptor was involved in their creation, someone capable of modelling figures that complied with academic principles as much in the nobility of their forms as in the accuracy of each deity’s expression.

The aesthetic choice not to highlight the facial features and to leave the glaze in its marble-like whiteness lends these works a grandeur all too rare in ceramic sculpture.