Siriès, Louis

(c. 1686—1766)

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(b Figeac-en-Quercy, c. 1686; d after 1766). French gem-engraver, hardstone-carver and goldsmith, active in Italy. He was an Orfèvre du Roi to Louis XV (reg 1715-74), for whom he carved a crucifix of lapis lazuli and a cameo of the symbol of the arts and sciences (both untraced). In 1722 he settled in Florence, where he became Director of the imperial gallery, the Real Galleria di Firenze. From 1749 he also became Director of the Galleria dei Lavori pietra dura factory, a position that was subsequently occupied by members of the Siriès family for four generations. He was also employed as a die-cutter at the mints of Florence and Pisa. His work can be dated from c. 1734 to c. 1760. He was renowned for his microscopic figures engraved in low relief, some of which required a magnifying glass to be viewed distinctly, and for his delicate and painstaking technique. In 1757 he published the Catalogue des pierres gravées par Louis Siriès, Orfèvre du Roi de France, présentement directeur des ouvrages en pierres dures de la galerie de S.M. Impériale à Florence, from which the empress Maria-Theresa bought all 168 gems. The largest of these, an oval three-layered onyx cameo in brown, white and brown (c. 1756; Vienna, Ksthist. Mus.) portrays Maria-Theresa and the emperor Francis I surrounded by the imperial family. It is signed lvd. siries scalp. fior. Most of his gems are now preserved in Vienna (Ksthist. Mus.). A jasper intaglio of Achilles Weeping for the Death of Patroclus is in the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris. Various of his gems, chiefly of Classical subjects, were reproduced by James Tassie (examples in Edinburgh, N.P.G., and St Petersburg, Hermitage). Siriès is also known to have made cups, trinkets and particularly snuff-boxes in lapis lazuli. Other signatures are l.s; l. siries; Lovis Siries and Louis Siries, sometimes with a date or place added. His son Cosimo Siriès (fl 1759-89), grandson Luigi Siriès (b 28 June 1743; d 15 Oct 1811) and great-grandson Carlo Siriès (d 29 Oct 1854) were gem-engravers and hardstone-carvers. His daughter Violante Beatrice Siriès (1709-83) was a painter.

From The Grove Encyclopedia of Decorative Arts in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Decorative Arts, Furniture, and Industrial Design.

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