- Museum number
Plate (assiette); hard-paste porcelain; shallow profile with broad flat rim; painted in green, blue, purple, yellow and iron-red with a garland of flowers in the oriental taste, outlined and heightened in gold; the rim decorated in gold and platinum on a black ground with three groups of figures, animals and vegetation in the Chinese style; rim and edge of well gilded; maker's mark.
- Production date
Diameter: 24.60 centimetres
- Curator's comments
- As Brunet and Préaud pointed out, 'M. de Semonville Ambassadeur was the first to purchase a service described in the Sèvres factory sales records as 'fond noir Chinois en ors de couleurs et platine, fleurs émaillés', delivered on 6 May 1791 (MNS, Archives de Sèvres, Vy 11, f. 69).
Chinese-style decoration on a black ground probably based on the designs of Jean Pillement (1728-1808) but in most cases not copied exactly from them (For a motif copied from Pillement, Cahiers de balançoirs chinois ..... on a plate of this kind in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, see T. Preaud, 'Sèvres, la Chine et les "chinoiseries" au XVIIIe siècle'. Journal of the Walters Art Gallery, 47 , p. 48, figs. 16.17), continued to be used for services throughout the Revolutionary, Consulate and Imperial periods, both with and without the addition of enamelled flowers. Even chamberpots with this type of decoration, clearly imitating lacquer, are recorded as having been sold from the factory in Messidor l'an XIII, or 1805 and 1806 (MNS, Archives de Sèvres, Vy 16, f. 30, 7 Messidor l'an XIII , Pour le service du palais de Lacken [sic], 1 id. [pot de chambre rond] fond noir et chinois en or, 66 frnacs; ibid., Vy 17, f. 23v, 6 September 1806, à Madame Toutan, 1 pot de chambre fond, noir en or, 60 francs). Three seaux à glace coupes, or icecream coollers, dating from 1804-12 in the Metropolitan Museum, New York, are similarly decorated. The technique of outlining in gold oriental flowers painted on a white ground can be seen on a pair of vases Paris in the Wallace Collection, London, made around 1779 (Savill, 1988, 1, pp. 442-6 and R. Savill, 'A Pair of Sèvres Vases: From the Collection of Sir Richard Wallace to the J. Paul Getty Museum, J. Paul Getty Museum Journal, Vol. !4/1986, p. 141, fig. 7, and p. 138, where it is stated that Antoine d'Albis has discovered that around 1779 gilding on the hard-paste was applied before the enamel colours, the decoration being first outlined in gilding then coloured subsequently. The author is grateful to the late David Cohen for drawing her attention to this aspect of the decoration of the BM vase). A recipe for overglaze black is given in documents preserved at the factory (MNS, Archives de S2vres, C2, liasse 5, f. 13). Twenty-seven parts of glaze for hard-paste porcelain, six parts of terre d'ombre which had been calcinated in the upper chamber of the hard-paste kiln and three parts of Swedish cobalt were heated unti the 'sulphur of arsenic' had been driven off. These ingredients were mixed and 'treated like the blue ground'. The 'bleeding of dark blue into the white area of the plate, a characteristic noted on other similarly decorated pieces, may be due to the presence of cobalt in the glaze (The author is indebted to Rosalind Savill for this suggestion, more plausible than her own original belief that the black was applied over an underglaze blue ground)l
- On display (G47/dc7)
- Noticeable firing defects, especially on the base; rim repaired.
- Acquisition date
- Britain, Europe and Prehistory
- Registration number