A masterpiece of the French Renaissance enamelwork, this radiant enamel Adoration of the Shepherds plaque belongs to the highly esteemed Limoges legacy of porcelain, glass and enamel. Crafted over 400 years ago, the remarkably rare plaque still retains the vibrant array of color and luminosity for which Limoges enamels are renowned. Such beautifully preserved Limoges plaques from the Renaissance age are rarely seen on the market, as almost all existing examples are currently held in important public collections worldwide.
Enamelwork, one of Limoges' oldest crafts, enjoyed immense popularity in the 16th century. Though extremely costly to manufacture and expensive to acquire, plaques such as this were highly sought after by the highest social echelons. Not only did these pièces d’émail de Limoges serve as a mark of their personal prestige, but it also confirmed their cultural refinement and modern taste. Though enamels fell out of favor following the Renaissance era, they again achieved considerable popularity at the end of the 19th century, a reputation which lasted through the Art Deco movement.
Some of the most important collectors of the age, including the Rothschild family, Baron Frédéric Spitzer, and the Thyssen-Bornemisza family, sought out Renaissance-period Limoges enamels for their collection; today, most of the pieces from these collections found their way into the possession of leading European museums. The fervor even spread to the United States, were Henry Clay Frick acquired an impressive collection that today comprises the renowned Enamel Room in The Frick Collection (New York). The present plaque is comparable in quality, age, and subject to these important publicly held works.
12 3/8" high x 8 7/8" wide
Parke-Bernet Galleries, March 19, 1971, Lot 167
Private Collection, United States
M.S. Rau Antiques, New Orleans