France, second half of the 18th century
Inscription at the bottom “View of the Palais Bourbon, executed on the tour by Compigné, tabletier du Roy”
Pewter, gold, silver and watercolor
Frame in carved and gilt wood, Louis XVI period
This small rectangular painting, in embossed pewter foil, enhanced with gold, silver and watercolor, representing a view of the Palais Bourbon, which today holds the National assembly. On the foreground, the Seine is embellished with barks, which preceded the riverfront overlooked by a garden composed of beddings, which continues on the central part and thus forms an axis slightly off centered of the composition. On each side, the two “Italian” frontages, on the same level, of the Palais Bourbon on the left and the Hôtel de Lassay on the right, anticipating the multiple courts, arranged in the years preceding this work of Compigné. Indeed, if the Palais Bourbon as well as the Hôtel de Lassay were built between 1722 and 1728, aisles were added on the demand of the Prince Louis-Joseph de Bourbon-Condé from 1768 around the court of the Palais Bourbon, continuing to the West behind the Hôtel de Lassay with small apartments, extremities of which, in hemicycle, were clearly visible on the right side of the Compigné.
At the background, the neighborhood of Saint-Germain’s plain, is still little constructed but we can clearly distinguish the gold outline, characteristic of the dome of the Invalides, built between 1671 and 1706 by the architect Liberal Bruant, and on the right the buildings of the École Militaire then in construction (1751-1780).
The overall of the composition is animated by small characters navigating on boats, wandering around the quais de Seine or the gardens, others passing by the courts of the private mansions. All the subtility of Compigné’s technique is deployed here, associating to the polychromy of the watercolor a subtle work of micro-engraving of the pewter plate, which underlines almost each detail of the elevation of the palaces, walls and boats or the shimmering effects of the Seine. The ensemble is then enhanced with gold and silver, thus adding refinement and preciosity of the composition.
The work of Compigné is continued by a watercolored framework with gilt and green interlacing foliaged motifs, punctuated by cartouche in the angles, then underlined by red and gilt threads on a guilloche background. On the inferior part of this red thread, an inscription in gold letters precise the subject: “View of the Palais Bourbon, executed on the tour by Compigné, tabletier du Roy”. The composition is ended by a gilt wood frame adorned with a beaded and heart stripes frieze. Handwritten inscriptions at the verso, dating probably to the 18th century, complete the overall:
“View of the Palais Bourbon at Paris
by Compigné, tabletier du Roi Louis XV
gouache on a lead sheet passed on the tour
On the foreground, the Seine extends from left to right, carrying carriages and boats, the Palace currently affected to the Deputy chambers. Behind on the right, the Invalides and the École militaire”
Lower, another inscription more recent precise: “This view of the Palais Bourbon exists at the musée Carnavalet rue de Sévigné à Paris but non polychromous or enhanced with gouache”.