Large Vienna figure group, ‘Autumn’ with grape pickers, circa 1765
Large & Important early Vienna figure group, “Wine Grower as allegory of Autumn”, depicting a man in a smart striped turquoise costume & brown coat cavorting with two ladies, one with a basket of grapes, the other with a vigneron tool, on a low grassy plinth.
Underglaze blue Shield mark for Vienna,
incised modellers mark ‘Q’
24cm high, base 18×15.5cm
Condition: fine condition, some minor firing flaws, enamels are excellent, small losses to some leaves of grapes & on hats, his right hand with excellent ‘invisible’ restoration to fingers, displays superbly.
ref. Sturm-Bednarczyk & Sladek, ‘CEREMONIES FEASTS COSTUMES – Viennese Porcelain Figures’ p148 for an example, also the frontispiece of the book; fig. 228 “Wine grower as an allegory of autumn”, c. 1765 (Umeleckoprumyslové Museum, Prague).
This example differs very slightly in the construction of the components, with the kneeling woman’s hand resting under the man’s armpit rather than on his coat tail, and her other hand not actually grasping the tool. The colour palette is the same yellow, pink, blue, and tones of green & brown, but the Prague example also includes two instances of gold being used.
This remarkable figure, along with others by the same sculptor, would have been part of a grand table decoration for the banquets of an important person. The figures depicted are rather ‘antique figures’, with the costumes belonging more to the 17th century; along with the subjects of idealic pastorale pastimes, such as the harvesting of grapes seen here, it indicates they are related to the favourite occupation of the Rococo courts in Europe: dress-up balls. Marie Antoinette as a shepherdess is an image well remembered in the present, and was a common occurrence in the 18th century. Grand balls were held with attendees all dressing in ‘pastoral’ costumes. Imagine such a ball, with an associated dining experience included. Sitting at the table in one’s costume, there was a splendid representation of the pastoral ideal in the form of the colourful figures spread down the tabletop between the guests. The perfect conversation starters, and with the lively & expressive interactions of the characters seen in these Viennese figures, no end of witty comments would be possible.
This example is one of a group of four figures depicting the seasons. With the grapes being harvested, it is Autumn; in the same Prague collection are two other figure groups matching (the key difference being 3-figures on a single oval base) – ‘Reaper as allegory of summer’ and ‘Ice skater as allegory of Winter’. Missing is a figure of spring; presumably the ladies depicted will have baskets of ‘spring flowers’ or fruits.
The modelled who incised ‘Q’ as his symbol is well represented in any collection with early Vienna figures.