A Porcelain Composition of a Gallant Man and a Lady
POPOV MANUFACTORY, MOSCOW, FIRST HALF 19TH CENTURY
Height 23 cm.
with blue underglaze manufactory mark
“Francomania” and enthusiasm for everything French was characteristic of the 19th century Russian aristocratic society. Porcelain manufactories fully reflected this trend and often addressed themselves to the subject of fêtes galantes, creating elegant groups of lovers “in the European manner”. For inspiration, they used characters from fêtes galantes scenes from the paintings of Jean-Antoine Watteau, François Boucher and Jean-Honoré Fragonard.
The porcelain composition known as A Gallant Man and a Lady is a popular example of a pastoral scene portraying a young man holding bagpipes and cosying up to a young woman.
The bagpipes the gallant man holds are not only a symbol of masculinity but also an attribute of the itinerant themes and scenes of village life characteristic of the 18th century culture. In this composition the symbolism is on a pastoral theme of lyrical love and it is no coincidence that the young man’s female companion inclines towards a basket of apples – the symbol of temptation and falling into sin. Symbols of this kind helped in conveying the meaning of these porcelain compositions. Guessing the coded message in such love scenes was an engaging pastime and it comes as no surprise that such porcelain groups enjoyed great popularity.