- Museum number
Two-handled Toilet Pot, Cover and Stand ('tasse à toilette et soucoupe'); soft-paste porcelain; deep saucer with central well, cup with straight sides swelling from small foot; uneven dark blue ground ('bleu lapis') decorated in gold with a flower spray on a white ground enclosed by flowers and reeds in two reserves on each component part; partly gilded scroll-form handles and twig finial on domed cover terminating in leaves; gilt dentil rims and foot; maker's mark.
- Production date
- 1753-1754 (circa)
Diameter: 12.70 centimetres (stand)
Height: 8 centimetres (pot and cover)
- Curator's comments
- Dawson 1994
Marked discoloration of the porcelain of the cover and patchy overtired glaze suggest the possibility that the cover may have been decorated some time after it received the initial biscuit firing.
The shape, known as ‘tasse à toilette’, is mentioned in the factory inventory of October 1752.(1) Forty-nine glazed examples were listed at 4 ‘livres’ 10 ‘sols’ each. The precise purpose of this form is still uncertain. Its domed cover was probably intended to prevent powder used during the ‘toilette’ from falling into the broth or hot drink held in the cup. Savill, who discussed its function in 1988,(2) has kindly drawn to the author's attention a passage in Diderot's ‘Encyclopédie(3) concerning a medicinal potion concocted from orange flowers which might have been drunk from a covered cup like this.
A drawing for this shape dated 19 February 1753 is preserved in the factory archive (see fig. 72a).(4) Only one size was made. These pieces may have been in the sixth enamel firing of the second series between November 1753 and January 1754 sold to Lazare Duvaux for 48 ‘livres’ on 31 December 1753,(5) as the absence of a date-letter does not necessarily indicate a date of production before 1753.
The incised mark ‘3’ is listed by Savill.(6)
(1) Hallé, Antoinette and Préaud, Tamara, ‘Porcelaines de Vincennes, les Origines de Sèvres’, Grand Palais, Paris, October 1977 – January 1978, p. 113, MNS, Archives de Sèvres, E 7.
(2) Savill, Rosalind, ‘The Wallace Collection, Catalogue of Sèvres Porcelain, London’, London, 1988, II, p. 719.
(3) D. Diderot and J. d'Alembert, ‘Encyclopédie ou Dictionnaire raisonné des Sciences, des Arts et des Métiers’, Paris, 1757 80, Vol. II (1765), p. 558.
(4) Hallé and Préaud, ‘Porcelaines de Vincennes’, p. 113. MNS, Archives de Sèvres R1 dossier 2, laisse 2, f. 1.
(5) MNS, Archives de Sèvres, Vy 1, f. 30V, described as 'bleu ancien et or'.
6. Savill, 1988, III, pp. 1125 -6.
There are no comparable examples.
Literature: King, William, Etude anglaise sur les porcelaines de Vincennes, ‘Bulletin de la Société des Amis de Vincennes’, March 1939, no. 15, p. 196.
- Not on display
- Saucer warped in firing.
- Acquisition date
- Britain, Europe and Prehistory
- Registration number