1 of 2

The Bapst family coat of arms, from whom Georges-Frédéric hails, includes a tiara to indicate their long association with jewellery making. Originally a modest family, whose professions included draper, shoemaker and tailor, they were based in the Halle (Saxon-Anhalt in Southern Germany) region from the sixteenth century, until their rise to fame and fortune in the eighteenth and nineteenth century as royal jewellers.

This portrait of Georges-Frédéric Bapst by the celebrated artist Jean Urbain Guérin would have been commissioned on the eve of French Revolution. A sensitive and modest portrait, it was painted on the brink of revolt, when royal jewellery would become the focus for anti-royalist sentiment.

Georges-Michel Bapst (1718/19-1770), father of the sitter in the current portrait, settled in Paris in 1752 as Louis XV’s ‘privileged goldsmith’. He had married Elisabeth Stras, whose father Georg Friedrich Stras (or Strass) (1701-1773) had invented the rhinestone.[1] This invention brought the family great riches and fame. Stras was able...

Read more

The Bapst family coat of arms, from whom Georges-Frédéric hails, includes a tiara to indicate their long association with jewellery making. Originally a modest family, whose professions included draper, shoemaker and tailor, they were based in the Halle (Saxon-Anhalt in Southern Germany) region from the sixteenth century, until their rise to fame and fortune in the eighteenth and nineteenth century as royal jewellers.

This portrait of Georges-Frédéric Bapst by the celebrated artist Jean Urbain Guérin would have been commissioned on the eve of French Revolution. A sensitive and modest portrait, it was painted on the brink of revolt, when royal jewellery would become the focus for anti-royalist sentiment.

Georges-Michel Bapst (1718/19-1770), father of the sitter in the current portrait, settled in Paris in 1752 as Louis XV’s ‘privileged goldsmith’. He had married Elisabeth Stras, whose father Georg Friedrich Stras (or Strass) (1701-1773) had invented the rhinestone.[1] This invention brought the family great riches and fame. Stras was able to open his own business in 1730, devoting his time to the development of imitation diamonds, and four years later was awarded the title of ‘King’s jeweller’ to Louis XV.

Likely named after his famous grandfather, Georges-Frédéric Bapst, the sitter in this profile portrait, inherited the family affinity with jewels and became the first ‘Bapst’ crown jeweller. As crown jewellers to the Bourbon family, and later the Second Empire, the ‘Maison Bapst’ firm was founded.[2]

Like Bapst’s father-in-law, Stras, the artist Guérin hailed from Alsace. His connection to fellow Alsatians was strong and he received much patronage from those who also settled in Paris. Considered to be one of the most notable miniaturists of his time, his initial apprenticeship was with Jacques-Louis David before he began working with the younger Jean-Baptiste Isabey. Marie-Antoinette soon became his main patron and by 1792 he was a member of the Filles Saint-Thomas section of the National Guard, where he attempted to defend the royal family against the sans-culottes. When he was suspected under the Reign of Terror he fled France and joined Napoleon’s Egyptian campaign, returning to France in 1799. Resuming his work as an artist, he entered the service of Josephine de Beauharnais, wife of Napoleon. His career continued until his death in 1836.

This profile portrait of Bapst by Guérin may have been intended as the basis for an engraving. In 1789, a series of profiles of prominent figures at court, after portraits by Guerin, were engraved. These engravings are now scattered in various public collections but included portraits of the politician, economist, and historian Comte Pierre Louis Roederer (1754 -1835), the Statesman Louis Alexandre, duc de La Rochefoucauld d'Enville (1743-1792) and the lawyer and diplomat Jean François Rewbell (Reubell) (1747-1807) [NPG, London].

Painted during a time of great opulence, on the eve of the French Revolution, this portrait of Bapst shows him at the apex of his career. A few years earlier, again working with a family connection, he had designed and made the sword of Louis XV (1784). Georges-Frédéric Bapst’s first cousin, Eberhardt (1771-1831), worked with him in Paris, and in 1796 married the daughter of Paul-Nicolas Ménière, the diamond inspector for the crown.

Georges-Frédéric Bapst saved the royal jewels from looting during the ‘Hundred Days’ (also known as the War of the Seventh Coalition). ‘Maison Bapst’ made jewels for the Duchess of Angouleme, daughter of King Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette, niece of King Louis XVIII, such as the pair of ruby and diamond bracelets, the belt plaque and the emerald and diamond tiara, which are now exhibited in the Galerie d’Apollon in the Musee du Louvre. Later, they made the crown of Charles X, painted at the forefront of his portrait by François Gérard[3] and described by François-Marie Miel at the coronation as ‘the most excellent piece produced by the art of working the most precious of substances, and the diamond which surmounts it is itself the masterpiece of fossil nature.’[4]

This work has been registered by Philip Mould and Company as qualifying as exempt. Please contact laura@philipmould.com if you have any further queries.

Ivory registration: 9R4VD2BE



[1] Stras’s invention used a particular crystal found in the Rhine (hence the name ‘Rhinestone’), then added mixtures of bismuth and thallium to improve the refractive quality of his imitations. The colour could be altered with the addition of metal salts and metal foil glued behind could improve the brilliance of the gems. The imitations were, in his view, so like real gems that he invented the concept of the "simulated gemstone" to describe them.

[2] The firm became known as ‘Bapst freres’ after producing Charles X’s coronation regalia in 1824 and later ‘Bapst et Falize’ was founded in 1879 by representatives of the two famous jeweller families.

[3] In 1824 Gérard was commissioned by the government to paint a portrait of the new king, Charles X, in his coronation robes. It was exhibited at the 1825 Salon, where it enjoyed considerable success. Numerous large versions were subsequently produced, including one at The Bowes Museum, UK.

[4]

Receive information about exhibitions, news & events.

We will process the personal data you have supplied in accordance with our privacy policy. You can unsubscribe or change your preferences at any time by clicking the link in any emails.

Receive information about exhibitions, news & events.

We will process the personal data you have supplied in accordance with our privacy policy. You can unsubscribe or change your preferences at any time by clicking the link in any emails.
Close

Basket

No items found
Close

Your saved list

This list allows you to enquire about a group of works.
No items found
Close
Mailing list signup

Get exclusive updates from Philip Mould Gallery

Close

Sign up for updates

Make an Enquiry

Receive newsletters

In order to respond to your enquiry, we will process the personal data you have supplied in accordance with our privacy policy. You can unsubscribe or change your preferences at any time by clicking the link in any emails.

Close
Search
Close
500 Years of British Art