The Nursing Mother
Statues & Busts
Modeler: Josse-Francois-Joseph Leriche (1741-c. 1812)
After: Louis-Simon Boizot (French, 1743-1809
Year: c. 1850
Medium: Biscuit porcelain
Marks: Stamped “A.F.” and inscribed “Meyer No. 11”
Size: Height – 7 3/4”, Length – 7 3/4”
Original Location: Most likely the Lower Stair Hall
Provenance: Adelicia Acklen to her son Joseph Hayes Acklen to his daughter Jeannette Acklen Noel to Ellen Stokes Wemyss by bequest to Belmont Mansion Association
BMA 2001.04.05 Gift
This statuette is one of a pair of small figural groups copying eighteenth century French hard-paste biscuit porcelain. The companion piece in this group is The Nursing Mother. These genre or domestic groups were all the rage by the mid nineteenth century just as they had been a century earlier. This piece continues another theme found in Adelicia Acklen’s collection – the caring mother and children. When this piece was first made around 1775 by Sèvres it reflected the new teaching, in the Age of Enlightenment, of upper class families having more of a role in the rearing of children. The upper-class mother is in her dressing gown with her children for breakfast. The upper-class mother is breast feeding her baby when prior to this the French aristocracy had sent their children to the country with wet nurses to raise the child. Adelicia’s America also saw an increased interest in child rearing by the upper class.
The French style was the most prominent influence in furniture and interiors in the western world by the time Belmont was being built. The love of French porcelains, particularly in the American south, is seen in the Acklens’ choices for Belmont. In addition to its appeal as a French scene, it is likely that Adelicia would have known the association these pieces had with Marie Antoinette. This group and the companion group by Sèvres were used in the dining room of Marie Antoinette’s small apartment on the second floor of the Palace of Versailles. They remain at Versailles today.
The manufacturer of the pieces owned by the Acklen’s remains a mystery. While both pieces are marked, the marks are unidentified. They both are extremely accurate copies of pieces done by Sèvres Porcelain Manufactory. The originals were from sculpture groups by then well-known French artist Louis-Simon Boizot. They were modeled at Sèvres by Josse-Francois-Joseph Leriche who worked at Sèvres from 1757 to 1801 making the clay reduction models that were used to cast the porcelain pieces. He was the head of the sculpture workshop from 1780 till 1801. As a student of the eminent French sculptor Falconet he also had an artistic career as a sculptor and as a painter.
 Frenchsculpture.org, a project by Laure de Margerie, funded by the Nasher Sculpture Center, the Institut national d’histoire de l’art, the Muséee d’Orsay, the Muséee Rodin, and the Ecole du Louvre , accessed 02/21/2019