1843 - 1845
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Delicate shades of watercolor animate this pen-and-ink presentation drawing of an elaborate inkstand by Robert-Josephe Auguste, court goldsmith to Louis XVI. It is thought that Auguste may have created this extraordinary design in celebration of the king's marine victories, although it is not known whether it was ever executed.
Atop an elaborate base that includes shallow bowls for ink and sand, highly symbolic figures in antique-style dress are posed around a central column. At the center is Louis XVI in Roman armor, crowned with a laurel wreath by Fame, who is winged, and holds a palm frond. The king is offered an olive branch by a kneeling female figure representing France--identifiable by the helmet she wears, which is surmounted by a cockerel. A putto next to France holds a trident, representing the sea. An anchor and ships' prows decorate the sides of a column. A putto atop the column stands astride a cornucopia, which symbolizes plenty and good fortune. He holds a caduceus, symbolizing his role as messenger, and blows a trumpet decorated with the royal standard--a flag with the king's arms and three fleurs-de-lis. Medium: black ink with watercolour washes in blue, yellow, and crimson.
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