Antonio Canova, or maybe not?

Antonio Canova??

A parian statue of a girl reading a book, which she holds open on her knees. Her legs are crossed and tied round her head is a ribbon. Produced in the 19th century by Samson de Paris, signed Canova on the base and marked with blue underglaze Samson's "S" mark. That  must be an Antonio Canova isn't it?!

Ironically this figurine is wrongfully attributed and authorship belongs not to the famous Italian sculptor Antonio Canova (1757-1822), but to the French sculptor Charles-Gabriel Sauvage, called Lemire (1741-1827), and was created by Lemire around 1795, as a part of a large clock case that was never completed.

The original in bronze was lost soon after the French Revolution and in the 19th century Lemire's reading infant sculpture was only known by the white bisque copies, produced by Dihl et Guérhard Manufactory.

From the year 1781 to 1802 this manufactory commissioned many models of unsigned bisque porcelain and because most parian wares mimicked carved marble sculptures, it would be easy to believe that authorship belonged to Canova – the most popular sculptor in the late 18th century, and such a sad mistake lasted as late as 1830, when the original was finally rediscovered in the Louvre.

Probably the Samson porcelain manufactory copied this sculpture from the Dihl et Guérhard bisque, and has it signed Canova to make it look even more important.

Edmé Samson (1810-1891) opened his ceramics firm Samson, Edmé et Cie in 1845 at Rue Vendôme in Paris, with the intention of supplying reproductions of ceramics on display in museums and private collections. of the famous Meissen, Sevres, Chelsea, and Derby porcelains, but has claimed that all reproductions the firm produced would be distinctly marked to avoid confusion with the originals.

Symbolizing learning, the infant immersed in reading figurine fell well within the spirit of the neoclassical Empire era and became very popular, so this motif was frequently copied by many aspiring porcelain makers – both French and English – who were well on their way to perfecting their own parian figures.


  • Size (h w): 30.5 x  cm

To purchase this painting click HERE

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