|The Bowes Museum 2002||
ROYAL SUGAR SCULPTURE
Ivan was the guest curator of this important exhibition which examined the historical development of sugar as a sculptural medium. Its main focus was a remarkable collection of confectioner's moulds, tools and designs (example above). Dating from between 1780 and 1825, this assemblage had at some time been the property of a confectioner called Prati who worked for the Royal House of Savoie. With the help of Bowes Museum curator of ceramics Howard Coutts, food historian Peter Brears and sculptor Tony Barton, Ivan used the moulds to re-create an Empire plateau dessert (c.1820s).
A view of the corner of the plateau.
Gilded pastillage trophies made from the mould on the right.
The Princess de Lamballe
Some of the earlier moulds in the collection date from the period just before the French Revolution and almost certainly originated in the household of the Princesse de Lamballe, Marie Therese Louise de Savoie-Carignan (1749-92). A favourite of Marie Antoinette, the Princess was murdered during the Terror in 1792. One of the moulds is carved with her coat of arms, another with the ciphers of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette (right). This particular mould also features a cartouche to make sugar table markers and a pastillage basket.
A tiny sugar basket of cobweb delicacy, finer than any ever made of porcelain. Behind is a sugar tazza with gilded dolphin legs.
Baskets were pressed out of moulds like that illustrated above. Excess sugar paste was scrapped off with the little brass tool or with tiny boxwood squeegees. Behind the basket is a boxwood former to wrap the pastillage 'mosaic' round to give it the form of a basket. The leaves and centre of the miniature cauliflower were pressed from another mould and then assembled.
A miniscule pastillage basket on socle with 'jewel fruit' cucumbers.
Another tiny pastillage basket with 'jewel fruit' cauliflowers and cucumbers.
A design for a pastillage pièce montée, from the collection of water colour designs by Prati (1820s). This is actually a kind of sugar paste mobile. The lanterns, parrots and ballettes would have all trembled as the guests touched the table.