ref. 1361

L.C. Sevin


 (Attributed to)

F. Barbedienne


Byzantine Sweet box

Circa 1880

Signed F. Barbedienne

Gilt bronze, polychrome cloisonné enamel

Height : 14,5 cm (5,7 in) ; Sides : 16 x 16 cm (6,3 in)

Precious sweet box in gilt bronze with polychrome cloisonné enamel decoration. It rest son four foliage claw feet with lion heads and is adorned with polychrome cloisonné enamel Byzantine decoration

The high quality of the enamel is typical of Barbedienne’s production. It enhances this pair of covered cups especially with the wide range of colours used to create the decoration. The enamel is smooth and shiny and shows many shades to form the Byzantine decoration. The partitioned cloisonné is finely engraved and contributes to the decoration by adopting vegetal and foliage shapes.

The model

This sweet box is from a well-known model of the Barbedienne Company. Indeed a similar covered-cup was purchased in 1867 – certainly during the Paris Universal Exhibition – by the Österreichisches Museum für angewandte Kunst of Vienna (Inv. –NrEm15/1867). Some years after, during the 1873 Vienna Universal Exhibition, Ferdinand Barbedienne presented on his stand an identical cup reproduced in Kunst und Kunstgewerbe auf der Wiener Weltausstellung, 1873. It shows the same foliage feet and the same enamel decoration with flowered scrolls and Byzantine motifs.



Covered cup of the 1873 Universal Exhibition,

(reproduced in Kunst und Kunstgewerbe auf der Wiener Weltausstellung, p. 441)

Barbedienne and the cloisonné enamel

Ferdinand Barbedienne continously innovated and he revived the use of enamel on art works during the second half of the 19th century. The Sèvres Manufacture enamel workshop had ever tried it in 1854-1855, but Barbedienne was the one who succeeded to join enamel to an industrial decorative objects production. From 1858 “At Mr Barbedienne’s, enamels in copper ornaments have got their former prestige back” (Les bronzes de la Maison Barbedienne, C. Simon, in L’Art du XIXe siècle, 1858, n°21, p. 252). The Barbedienne Company had now an enamel workshop where objects ornamented with oriental style or medieval style enamels were made. Four years after, Barbedienne’s cloisonné opaque enamels are noticed during the 1862 Universal Exhibition. Barbedienne was awarded three medals in three different categories : ‘Furniture’, ‘Silversmith work’ and ‘Artistic bronzes’ especially for the combination of bronze with enamel (oriental style cup, Compiègne Castle, Inv. C. 71-122).

The technique used to make these covered cups is different from the traditional one used for cloisonné enamel. In fact in Barbedienne’s productions the cloisonné is not welded to the object but is directly cast with it. The cloisonné forms part of the object and this innovation enabled to have a more refined and softer decoration.

The colours used by the Barbedienne Company also relate to the success of its enamels and the shades are praised as they “have more than the others these qualities of sparkle and richness that the range of colours of Gothic and Chinese enamellers also have” (in Gazette des Beaux-Arts, 1er décembre 1862, p. 542). This was made to create original enamelled creations either with Chinese or Japanese inspiration with a naturalistic decoration, or with Persian or Indian inspiration with a more stylized decoration, like on these covered cups.


Louis-Constant Sévin (1821-1888) : he was first trained to design and sculpture with the sculptor Antoine-André Marneuf (1796-1865). In 1839 he went into partnership with two sculptors, Phénix and Joyau, and he created designs for famous goldsmiths such as Denière, Froment-Meurice and Morel. He fled to London during the 1848 Revolution where he worked at Morel, with whom he exhibited art works at the 1851 Universal Exhibition. Back to France he took p

art to the 1855 Universal Exhibition by creating designs to the Limoges porcelain makers Jouhanneaud and Dubois. Since then he worked as head decorator at Ferdinand Barbedienne’s Company. He produced a lot of works : he designed the bronze decoration for the Paiva’s Hotel (on the Champs-Elysées avenue) and created models for Ferdinand Barbedienne. He participated in different exhibitions and was awarded at the 1862 London Universal Exhibition for the artistical excellence of the furniture items he designed and which are exhibited by Barbedienne. He also received a Gold Medal as collaborator at the 1863 Central Union of Decorative Arts Exhibition.

Ferdinand Barbedienne (1810-1892) : he created and headed at n°30 boulevard Poissonnière in Paris one of the most famous 19th century artistic bronze casting companies. Awarded with two Council Medals at the 1851 London Universal Exhibition, the Barbedienne company won at the 1855 Paris Universal Exhibition a medal of honour and eleven cooperator’s medals for the work of his co-workers, such as his designer Louis-Constant Sévin (1821-1888) and his chaser Désiré Attarge (c.1820-1878). At the London Universal Exhibition of 1862 Barbedienne won medals in three different categories : ‘Furniture’, ‘Silversmith work’ and ‘Artistic bronzes’, combining for some pieces with onyx marble and enamel. Barbedienne was not only, with the Parisian silversmith Christofle, one of the leaders of the French Aesthetic Movement in decorative arts, but also the first artist to produce the famous cloisonné enamels (see « L’émaillerie moderne », Gazette des Beaux-Arts, Alfred Darcel, t. XXIV, janv.-juin 1868, p° 75-84). At the 1867 Universal Exhibition in his capacity as member of and speaker for the Jury, he was non-contestant, but exhibited nevertheless with great success cloisonné and champlevé enamelled pieces. Barbedienne was made an Officer of the Légion d’Honneur in 1867 and Commander in 1878 when he was compared with “a prince of industry and the king of bronze casting”. His glory did not decline with the passage of the time for at the Universal Exhibition of 1889 the critics thanked Barbedienne for the example he set for other bronze-casters by the perfection of his bronzes.


– L’Art en France sous le Second Empire, Exposition Grand-Palais, Paris, 1979, p. 148-149.

– L’émaillerie moderne, Alfred Darcel, in Gazette des Beaux-Arts, t. XXIV (janvier-juin1868), p. 76.

– Les bronzes de la Maison Barbedienne, C. Simon, in L’Art du XIXe siècle, 1858, n°21, p. 252.

– Der Traum von Glück : Die Kunst des Historismus in Europa, Ausstellung im Künstlerhaus und der Akademie der Bildenden Künste, Wien, 1996-1997, p. 599-600.

– Kunst und Kunstgewerbe auf der Wiener Weltausstellung, 1873, Von Lützow, Leipzig, 1875, p. 441.

– Gazette des Beaux-Arts, 1er décembre 1862, p. 542.


– Covered cup probably exhibited at the 1867 Universal Exhibition, preserved at the Osterreichisches Museum für angewandte Kunst, Vienna (Inv. –NrEm 15/1867).

– Covered cup, preserved at the Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh (Inv. 1999.49.3.A-B).

Covered cup so-called sweet-box, preserved at the Musée de l’Evêché – Musée de l’Email, Limoges (Inv. 2006.15.1).



Covered cup so-called sweet-box

Musée de l’Evêché – Musée de l’Email, Limoges.

Contact us

    Tobogan Newsletter

    If you want to be up-to-date with our new acquirings you can sign up to our newsletter.

    Récemment consulté