A pair of bronze lions after Boizot for chenets in the Salon de la Paix, Versailles, 1786. These recumbent lions are unusually grand in scale and are raised upon the original Rouge Griotte marble bases. Each is modelled with a long nose, deeply set eyes with pronounced lids, abundant mane and the tail curled over the left hip. These bronzes are after the well-known model produced in terracotta by Louis-Simon Boizot for a pair of chenets in the Salon de la Paix, Versailles, in 1786. This pair probably circa 1786 and circa 1790.
The Huggins family (probably purchased by Albert Edward Huggins around 1860)
Major Tom Bird DSO, MC and bar (1918-2017). Turville Heath House.
Louis-Simon Boizot (1743-1809) was the son of a designer at the Gobelins Manufactory and rose to become a sculptor of international repute, working for both the Bourbon Royal family and the Imperial family that succeeded them. In addition to his works, both public and private, in marble and bronze, Boizot worked from 1773-1800 as director of sculpture at the Royal Sevres porcelain manufactory. He is also known to have worked on terracotta models that formed the basis of bronze and ormolu decorative objects and his work was frequently then chased by Thomire. The surviving records in the Guarde-Meuble at Versailles for the lion chenets are quite detailed. The artists Bureau, Pigal and Bourette received payment for design drawings and wax models and then Boizot received a considerably larger sum for producing
a model in terracotta. It is therefore impossible to state, with certainty, that Boizot was responsible for the original design, but the treatment of certain features of the lions, in particular the very distinctive finishing of the eyes, is echoed in a marble self-portrait by the bronzier Thomire. Rouge Griotte marble was in particular favour with the Bourbon monarchy. Examination of these bases suggests that this marble would have been quarried in the 18th century which gives additional weight to the dating of
the pieces. The fact that these valuable French works of art found their way into the home of a wealthy British entrepreneur is testament to the cordial trading relations evident in Europe following the peace of 1815.
The Huggins family owned a brewery in Golden Square (Soho), London, known as the Lion Brewhouse. As can be seen from a surviving trademark application, presumably from 1875, the particular style of the “lion couchant” on the advert bears distinct similarities to the Boizot lion.
Major Thomas Archer Bird, DSO, MC & Bar
(1918-2017) was a distinguished British soldier whose inspirational command of the anti-tank ‘S’ Company, at Outpost Snipe during the Second Battle of El Alamein, helped destroy the armoured counter-attack of General Erwin Rommel’s Afrika Korps. He was High Sheriff of Buckinghamshire in 1989.
We are indebted to Christopher Coles for his research into these lions.