Figure of Mr. Fagon

Original model possibly by Josse-François-Joseph Le Riche, Belgian, 1741 - 1812. Made by the Sèvres porcelain factory, Sèvres, France, 1756 - present. Probably gilded by Henri-Martin Prévost, French, active 1757 - 1797.

Made in Sèvres, France, Europe

c. 1774

Hard-paste porcelain with enamel and gilt decoration; wood walking stick

10 x 4 1/4 inches (25.4 x 10.8 cm)

Curatorial Department:
European Decorative Arts and Sculpture

* Gallery 265, European Art 1500-1850, second floor

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Bequest of Eleanore Elkins Rice, 1939

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Gui Crescent Fagon (1638-1718) was the chief doctor of Louis XIV and director of the royal botanical gardens.

Additional information:
  • PublicationPorcelain

    This rare figure of a bent old man leaning heavily on his cane has been identified as the statuette of Mr. Fagon first recorded in 1774 and delivered from the Sèvres factory to Mme Adélaide, daughter of Louis XV, on January 27, 1776. Gui Crescent Fagon (1638 - 1718), chief doctor of Louis XIV, had also been director of the king's botanical gardens; celebrated in his own lifetime, he gave medical advice to the king and court and encouraged scientific botanical studies through the collection of plant materials from abroad. Powerfully conceived and sympathetically realized, the stooped Fagon is shown posed here on a grassy base in front of a painted urn holding a plant. He typifies the realistic figures that were the specialty of the modeler Le Riche at Sèvres, an exception to the prevailing taste for subjects taken from literature and mythology. A sculptor at Sèvres from his arrival there in 1757, Le Riche was appointed head of the sculpture workshop in 1780, with the mention that "he deserves the highest regard and is almost unique [in his ability] to execute."

    The figure of Fagon was one of the early models produced in hard-paste porcelain at Sèvres. The factory has been granted privilege by the Council of State in 1745 for the purpose of rivaling Chinese and German porcelains, but it did not produce hard-paste examples until 1769. Commercial production began the following year, and hard-paste pieces were marked, as is this figure, by a crown added to the original interlaced double L cipher. Kathryn B. Hiesinger, from Guides to European Decorative Arts: Porcelain (1984), p. 14.

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