Clémence Isaure

Charles Lepec1865

Musée d’Orsay, Paris

Musée d’Orsay, Paris
Paris, France

Trained by the painter Hippolyte Flandrin, Charles Lepec began his career by exhibiting his paintings at the Salon from 1857 to 1859. But in 1861 he began to concentrate on painted enamel, studying the technique with enthusiasm before presenting his first attempts at enamel on copper and gold. He was one of the first to use gold as a support, obtaining beautiful glossy effects.

Lepec's career is largely international; he caught the eye of the English in 1862 when he exhibited at the World's Fair in London and achieved glory during the Universal Exhibition in Paris in 1867 where he received a gold medal in the gold work category for his presentation of a set of vases, cups, and nef of painted enamel and showpieces.

At the Salon of 1866, he caused a sensation by presenting this work, a sort of a shield of ambitious dimensions since it measures over 1.8 m. The object is dedicated to Clémence Isaure, a legendary figure who was thought at the time to have established the poetry contests known as the Jeux floraux in Toulouse in the late Middle Ages.

Like the large Renaissance enamels by Pierre de Courteys that Lepec may have seen in the Musée de Cluny, this panel is an assemblage of enamelled plates. Clémence Isaure is portrayed in profile, dressed in 16th-century costume, and the frame refers to the decorative and ornamental vocabulary of the Renaissance. The brilliantly executed panel may have been fired by the enameller Dottin.

English customers snatched up Lepec's work and this panel was very quickly sold by a great London jeweller to the ironmaster Bolckow.


  • Title: Clémence Isaure
  • Creator: Charles Lepec
  • Date Created: 1865
  • Provenance: Bought in 1982
  • Physical Dimensions: w1110 x h1800 cm
  • Credit Line: © RMN (Musée d'Orsay) / Daniel Arnaudet
  • Type: Decorative panel: enamel painted on copper, copper
  • Rights: © RMN (Musée d'Orsay) / Daniel Arnaudet
  • External Link: https://www.musee-orsay.fr/en/collections

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