Coming from the outstanding Château des Ollières in Nice (South of France), this impressive Neo-Renaissance style stained glass window bears the signature of the Maison Lorin of Chartres and the date of 1883.
Two characters, lavishly dressed in the French Renaissance fashion, "paned" sleeves and shoes, feathered beret or yet lace ruff, seem to get ready for hunting. While the man keeps a greyhound on a leash, a falcon stands wings wide open on the lady's hand. With her other hand, she points the shield at her feet: "paly of or and gules", it refers to the Provence region's flag, region of the Château des Ollières. The castle in the background, the architecture, the blazon, all evoke Renaissance's wonderful past.
An aristocratic order
According to the complimentary given archives of the current Maison Lorin, we were able to discover that it was a "senior civil servant, Mr Usquin", who ordered this work in 1882. These precious archives also preserved the sketch of a second stained glass window, made as a mirror work for our piece, with a very similar composition. Now owned in a private collection, this second window bears a monogram "EU", as well as a motto "Vite et Bien" ("Quick and Well"). These indications seem to refer to Emile Usquin (1834-1917), a civil servant who has had an exemplary career, climbing the ladder up to becoming the consul of Mexico in Monaco.
Our stained glass window would thus be an order from this major statesman after he purchased the Château des Ollières around 1881-1882.
the Château des Ollières in Nice.
In 1885, the mansion is purchased by prince Alexei Lobanov-Rostovsky (1824-1896), ambassador of Austria-Hungaria for Russia, under the reign of Alexander II. He served then as Minister of Foreign Affairs under Nicolas II. A specialist of Paul I of Russia's reign in 18th century, Lobanov-Rostovsky was fascinated by History, and prided himself on being descended from the legendary King Riourik (9th century). He was as well a remarkable collector of medals, sculptures, paintings and engravings.
Aesthete and passionate by the past's legendary appeal, Lobanov wishes to entirely reform the Château des Ollières as soon as he ownes it, and calls in the polish architect Adam Dettloff.
The fanciful architecture of the Château des Ollières owes thus to Adam Dettloff's work, who made a Belle Epoque "folly" of it. The "follies", extravagant holiday houses, were abundant on the Côte d'Azur. Les Beaumettes in Nice already hosted the Ukrainian princess Kotschoubey's mansion and the Château de la Tour owned by the Audiffret family. The Château de l'Anglais, Colonel Robert Smith's emblematic folly in 1858, came before the Ollières, which inspired in its turn the Leliwa mansion, another of Dettloff's work.
The Château des Ollières, which already inspired a Neo-Renaissance decoration to Usquin, is reformed in a "Troubadour" and Orientalist design, with its castellated towers and extravagant colours. The extreme quality of the Lorin stained glasses, and their subject reminding the medieval world, perfectly fitted with the new mansion's architecture, allows Dettloff to preserve them.
The "Leaving for the Hunt" window festooned the castle still after its transfiguration, and was part of this aesthetic caprice.
The Maison Lorin in Chartres, a factory of considerable reputation
Created in 1869 in Chartres by Nicolas Lorin, the Maison Lorin, listed as Historical Monument in France, is the most ancient of the city, and is still in activity nowadays. Originally employed in the factory of Le Mesni-Saint-Firmin, Nicolas Lorin (1833-1882) had a tremendous success since he realized six stained glass windows in 1864 for Saint-Martin Church of Samer (Pas-de-Calais). The workshop he opened himself will be the creative spot of numerous fine quality stained glasses, designed to decorate superb buildings all around France, and even abroad. Within ten years, the Maison Lorin becomes a world-scale reputed factory, counting 53 employees, and, in 1880, a shop is opened in Lille. Let us quote, in example of the production in this first period, the twenty-three windows made for Saint-Anne Church of Amiens, representing the Bible and the death of Louis XIII.
Nicolas Lorin dies in 1882, the year the "Leaving for the Hunt" window and its twin were ordered by Emile Usquin. His widow, Marie Françoise Dian, is thus leading the studio, before their son, Charles Lorin (1866-1940), takes its direction in 1898.
The years 1882 to 1898 have been those of magnificent productions, as the windows of Saint-Aignan Church in Chartres (1887-1891), listed historical monument, or the fourty-five windows of Saint-Aubin Church in Houlgate (Normandy) between 1882 and 1897. The studio, that had become famous, is called for the Universal Exhibition of 1889. There, a stained glass window representing the Sun's chariot decorates the Palais des Machines, a building that was destroyed after the occasion. One can find Lorin stained glasses as far from France as Jerusalem and Saïgon are, so considerable is its reputation.
Saint-Anne Church, Amiens.
Listed as Historical Monument.
We know through the factory's archives that "Leaving for the Hunt" was realized after the artist Julian's sketches, one of the factory's "cartonniers". The combination of several techniques shows the virtuosity and the exceptional quality of the Maison Lorin's works. The glass is painted with enamels, at times doubled and enamelled on both sides, giving the effect of depth. Some parts are enamelled on one side and acid-carved on the other. The details around the characters must have been applied with stencils, whereas the "grisailles" painting, particularly fit for the faces, draws very delicate details, velvety fleshes, textures of cloth. Substantial contrasts are therefore created, between plain colours and subtle details, making an alliance between medieval bright colours and academic drawings inherited from the Classic Age. This stained glass window is therefore a riveting testimony of the Historicist aesthetic, guided by fantasy, which is specific to 19th century.
The great finesse in light and colour work makes this very piece one of the time's best creations, and a Lorin masterpiece.
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