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Porcelain dessert plate

 

Diameter: 26.400 cm

Bequeathed by Sir Bernard Eckstein, Bt.

M&ME 1948,12-3,13

Room 46: Europe 1400-1800

    Porcelain dessert plate

    Sèvres factory, Sèvres, France, AD 1778

    Part of a dinner service of the Empress Catherine II 'the Great' of Russia (1729-1796)

    This soft-paste porcelain plate formed part of an extensive dinner- and dessert-service for sixty people, which consisted in total of 800 pieces. The service took three years to make, and was sent to Russia in 1779, the final cost being 331,317 livres. It is among the most well-documented services produced by the factory, with a record of the design and estimates for each item. The service was especially designed for the Empress, and adopts a classical style. The crowned monogram, 'E' for Ekaterina, is placed between a laurel and myrtle wreath, while the rim is decorated with alternating mythological scenes and cameo heads, each painted in grisaille within a red-brown oval.

    The mythological scenes depicted on this plate are: 'Pan leading his herd of cattle and sheep; Aesculapius and a centaur'; and 'Hercules with the Erymanthian boar'. The cameo heads, which represent classical deities, were transfer-printed onto the plate, and then filled in with colour by hand. The richly gilt and tooled scrolls are based on the decoration of the Theatre of Marcellus in Rome. The turquoise colour of the central well and the band around the rim is known as 'bleu céleste'.

    A. Dawson, A catalogue of French porcelai, revised paperback edition (London, The British Museum Press, 2000)

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    Ilustrated collection of French drawings, £15.00

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