A rare autograph Limoges enamel of John the Baptist by Pierre Reymond or workshop
Pierre Reymond (1513-aft. 1584) or workshop
Grisaille enamel on copper with gilt embellishments, signed "P.R." on reverse
ca. 1530-50; Limoges, France
Dmitri Schevitch (Galerie Georges Petit auction [Paris], 4-7 April 1906, Lot 226)
Approximate size: 76.7 x 63.5 mm
The present enamel with a rounded top was designed for setting into a devotional pax. The monogram “P.R.” on its reverse establishes it as belonging to the hand or workshop of Pierre Reymond, a prolific enameller active for more than 40 years.
The present enamel follows Reymond’s masterful handling of the grisaille technique featured on a quantity of his other notable works. A modest use of red-mulberry provides the flesh tones and a final application of highlighted gilding finishes the enamel. The Baptist scene appears to have been a workshop model. A later colored example, lacking the gilt inscription, is attributed to Reymond (Sotheby’s auction, 9 July 2015, Lot 132). It is alike in shape and size and is characterized by several differences, though remains visibly based upon the same model. Another color version is in the Parisan collection of the Musee Les Arts Décoratifs and a crude color example is also in the Museu de Lleida in Spain. One further example is in the Bayerisches Nationalmuseum.
The Baptist enamel was likely produced alongside other cognate works like a well produced figure of Jerome known also by an autograph version with a bordered inscription in the Wallace Collection (Inv. C581). Pax enamels may have been offered individually for private devotional use or paired for public use in which the paxes would be presented concurrently to the congregation on the 'Gospel' and 'Epistle' sides of the church.
Gilt monograms appearing on the reverse of Limoges enamels is rare, however 6 pax enamels, inclusive of the present example, feature Reymond’s monogram on the reverse. One further example features his monogram on the reverse, albeit in black. It is indiscernible whether the monograms are cold painted onto the counter-enamel or if they were applied beneath the enamel and bonded during firing. Though impossible to prove, there remains possibility these monogramed examples could be by Reymond’s own hand and not by an assistant. Early enamels connected with Reymond evidence a high standard of workmanship while later works are more evidently the product of workshop assistants. In particular, the fine handling of the present enamel’s execution is marvelous and adept. Possibly further suggestive of the enamel being an autograph work is Verdier’s discussion of the present enamel as being an early work by Reymond and one that served as the impetus for another enamel based upon its design at the Walters Museum (see Vedier No. 119). The Walters enamel is round and is set into a silver-gilt tazza, possibly of Italian origin (Vedier suggests Florence during the late Mannerist period).
Condition commensurate with age with some losses along the margins, revealing the copper backing.
From the 19th century Schevitch collection whose possessions now reside in numerous important museums around the world.