By Thomas Compigné
Pewter, gold, silver and gouache
This small painting in embossed pewter plates, enhanced with gold and gouache, represents a view of the Seine between the Pont Royal and the Pont Neuf, in Paris, is indicates the incised text in the inferior part of the medallion: vue de Paris, prise du Pont-Royal, exécutée sur le Tour et présentée au Roy par Compigné, Son Tabletier, le 3 février 1772.
On the foreground, the Pont Royal is distinguishable, constructed between 1685 and 1689 in stones and entirely financed by the king Louis XIV, it is formed by five spans with a central arch in anse de panier. It joins the right shore at the level of the Pavilion of Flore, represented on the left of the medallion, and continues on the aisle of the riverside of the Louvre and the left shore, on the right of the medallion, where follows one another individual residences along the quayside as well as the dome of the chapel of the Quatre Nations, actual Institut de France.
The centre of the composition is marked by the presence of an equestrian statue of Henri IV of France on a high base, placed in front of the Pont Neuf, from which arches permitting to join the right and the left shore at the extremity of the île de la Cité can be seen.
Slightly on the right, two tours of the front of Notre-Dame de Paris emerging from a succession of houses.
The Seine is animated of boats and characters wandering on the quayside as well as a carriage which engages on the Pont Royal on the foreground.
The overall, enhanced with gold, to the exception of the Seine, silvered and surmounted by a gouache sky with tones of blue and gold.
“View of Paris, taken from Pont Royal, executed on the lathes and presented to the King by Compigné, his ivory turner, on the 3th of February 1772”.
The anse de panier shape is composed of three curves forming a lowered arch, looking alike a hamper handle.
Paintings in Compigné
Of great preciousity and variety of materials, the paintings in Compigné were made according to a mysterious process starting from a sheet of tortoiseshell or cardboard to which a pewter or gold leaf was applied. The surface could then be decorated with gold, silver, gouache and coloured varnishes. These “miniatures”, known today under the name of Compigné, had a great success in the 1760s.The small format, characteristic of this production, required to work in extreme precision, probably with the help of a magnifying glass, to develop the perfection of these technical details and colours.
Arrived from Italy, probably around 1750, Thomas Compigni took the name Compigné when he settled under the sign of Roi David, rue Greneta, in Paris. As an ivory turner, he specialised in the manufacture and sale of boxes, knitting sets, draughts and chess sets, snuffboxes and other cane handles of blond tortoiseshell inlaid with gold. Renowned for the quality of his objects, he passed on to posterity through the production of precious paintings whose technique remains mysterious today. In 1773, he presented two views of the Château de Saint-Hubert to the King and obtained the title of “tabletier privilégié du Roi” under Louis XV and Louis XVI. His themes of predilection are most often view of towns, monuments and castles from the perspective of parks or landscapes animated by small characters.
Jean-Marie Bruson, Françoise Reynaud, Philippe Sorel, Rosine Trogan et Jean-Pierre Willesme, De la place Louis XV à la place de la Concorde, exhibition catalogue, Paris, Musée Carnavalet, 1982.
Anita Semail, « ces délicats chefs-d’œuvre de la tabletterie au XVIIIe siècle: Les Compigné et leurs créateurs », Plaisir de France n° 427, mars 1975.
Ouvrage collectif, Compigné, peintre et tabletier du Roy, exhibition catalogue, Grasse, Villa-Musée Jean-Honoré Fragonard, Juin-Juillet 1991.
 his title means that Compigné was an officer of the house of the King. As a ivory turner, he carried out his duties all year round, producing furniture for the Crown.