Plaster of Paris model of Maison Carrée attributed to Jean-Pierre and François Fouquet, £9000 at Sworders.

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Sworders’ Fine Interiors sale on June 11 included three Grand Tour-era plaster of Paris models of classical temples. Dated c.1820, they were attributed to Jean-Pierre and François Fouquet, best known as the makers of many similar models in the collection of the Sir John Soane’s Museum.

Estimated at £6000- 8000 each, they sold to the same London buyer for prices between £8500 and £9500 (plus 25% buyer’s premium).

Scale models such as these - based on prints and drawings - were used as prototypes by architects and inspiration for their own designs with visitors to their places of work encouraged to associate the great buildings of classical antiquity with the improvements being made to Britain’s cities at the time.


Plaster of Paris model of the Temple of Hera II at Paestum attributed to Jean-Pierre and François Fouquet, £9500 at Sworders.

According to the records held by the museum, Soane paid £100 for 20 architectural models in 1834 that had been acquired directly from Fouquet et Fils by the architect Edward Cresy who worked in Paris from 1829-35.

Sworders’ models came for sale by descent from the collection of Ben Weinreb (1912-99), an antiquarian bookseller and architectural historian. Weinreb believed they once belonged to Sir Robert Smirke (1780-1867), the English architect responsible for the design of the British Museum, and it is plausible that he acquired them from the architect John Nash (1752-1835). Nash owned a series of models of Greek and Roman buildings, including those he displayed in the Gallery of Architecture at his house in Regent Street, some of which are now in the Victoria and Albert Museum.


Plaster of Paris model of Ilisos Temple, £8500 at Sworders. 

The buildings depicted in these models are the Roman Corinthian order temple known as Maison Carrée in modern-day Nîmes (£9000), the Temple of Hera II at Paestum on the south-west coast of Italy (£9500) and the small Ionic order Ilisos Temple on the south bank of the Ilisos in Athens (£8500).

Each raised on a 19th century mahogany stand with Perspex cover, they were in relatively good condition, save some small chips and knocks and a few areas of repair.