Photo album "Gallery of busts cast at the Felix Chopin factory"
The factory of Felix Chopin was known for its famous busts of tsars, cabinet plastics and multifarious items that adorned the interior. The success of the factory lies not only in the fact that a talented entrepreneur from France subtly caught new fashion trends, but in the French casting quality, which was practically standard at that time and which deserved many positive assessments as well. Thorough study of the competitors’ products and the ability to foresee assited F. Chopin to start with cabinet sculpture in full and timely manner. The talented sculptor Eugene Lanceray made a great contribution to this area.
The famous factory was not started from nothing. In 1841-1842, Felix Chopin became the managing director of the large and profitable factory of Alexandre Guerin, who decided to transfer its management to the son of his companion, the sculptor Julien Chopin.
The French caster quickly adapted to the tastes of the public and current fashion. Alexander Guerin mainly produced household and interior items: candlesticks, clocks, inkpots, lamps and other objects made in the Empire style (in the strict, harmonious style, often depicting mythological scenes, or replicating antique sculptures, with columns or feet in the form of lion paws). Chopin, in turn, continued to produce similar items, hence he added many objects in the Neo-Rococo style with a variety of curves, curls and ornaments; playful figures of putti were placed on clocks and candlesticks, vines and images of whimsical shells and flower bouquets enlaced inkpots and other household and interior items.
All this corresponded to the manner and tastes for the decoration of palaces and churches, and the casting mastery of the Felix Chopin factory was at the highest level. The factory cast luxurious and elaborated items for the Winter Palace, the Grand Kremlin Palace and other tzar's residences, doors for the St. Isaac Cathedral and the Cathedral of Christ the Savior. In 1845, Chopin received the title of the Imperial Court Supplier, he actively participated in various Russian and international exhibitions, which made his production more and more famous and sought for.
A special page in the history of the factory comprised a series of busts of the Russian sovereign rulers. Far from being accurate portraits, they were consonant with the Russian style in bronze, which Chopin followed. Busts became very popular and were cast from various materials - from zinc to bronze. Primarily, all busts were made in full size, hence later Chopin bought a patent for a special device to reduce sculptures, and was able to cast the same sculptures in various sizes. This fact contributed to the growing popularity of the cabinet sculpture produced by the factory, which the customers placed on the tables and desks, and that was a reflection of the interests, views of life and wealth of an owner.
As for small sculptures and interior items, Chopin, in addition to analogues of the French works of art, also collaborated with Russian sculptors. The second half of the 19th century in Russia can be called the heyday of cabinet sculpture and small interior sculpture. F. Chopin, a prominent manufacturer, collaborated with such renowned masters as E. Lanceray, A. Aubert, M. Antokolsky, M. Mikeshin, A. Huhn.
However, in 1888, partly for economic reasons and due to his age, Felix Chopin delegated the management of the factory to Charles Bertheau. The Golden age of the factory lasted - Bertheau received two gold medals, became the Imperial Court Supplier. Hence, in 1903, the factory was closed, becoming another remarkable page in history.
On the occasion Felix Chopin birthday, a hereditary bronze-maker and caster, entrepreneur, the Imperial Court Supplier, we publish the photo album "Gallery of Busts produced by the Felix Chopin Factory".