- Museum number
Jug and Basin (pot à eau ordinaire et cuvette); soft-paste porcelain; pear-shaped jug with flat cover attached by means of a silver-gilt mount; yellowish-green ground, painted with exotic birds within two oval reserves surrounded by a gilt border with a tooled crossed-ribbon motif; tooled oak and acorn gilding interrupted by ribbon bows above and below the miniatures; lip outlined with gilding (also found near the foot and rim) and ornamented with a gilt flower wreath depending from a ribbon bow; cover decorated with a bird carrying an olive branch within a laurel leaf and berry wreath; gilt flowers and leaves decorate the border of the cover; basin similarly decorated, having a panel of birds at each end of the inner surface and at either side of the exterior; maker's mark and names of birds on bases.
- Production date
Height: 21.90 centimetres (jug)
Length: 29.90 centimetres (bowl)
- Curator's comments
- Dawson 1994
The shape is first recorded in December 1751 when a silver-gilt mount for a Vincennes ‘pot à eau’ was sold to Madame de Pompadour by Lazare Duvaux.³ The original (undated) drawing and models for three sizes are preserved at the factory,⁴ although according to Bellaigue four sizes ranging from 12 cm to 22.5 cm were produced.⁵ This example represents the first (i.e. largest) size. Water jugs and basins were used on dressing-tables, and were intended for display, and also for use in the garde-robe which in eighteenth-century French royal and aristocratic circles was developing into a proto-bathroom.⁶
The registers of painters' and gilders' work show that Aloncle was paid 36 livres on 20 September 1780 for painting birds on “1 Pot à l'eau et Jatte” of the first size with a green ground.⁷ Aloncle, who was born in Versailles on 15 February 1734, was a painter in Paris before joining Sèvres in May 1758. He died at Sèvres on 25 February 1781, having married Françoise-Felicité Bulidon one week before his death.⁸ As early as 1766 he was employed in painting named exotic birds on the Razoumovsky service now at Waddesdon Manor, Buckinghamshire.⁹
The names of the birds are given in blue enamel: on the jug ‘cardinal de la louisiane et tangara du Brésil and lory, des indes-Orientales. et Martin pecheur de ternate’; on the basin ‘le couliavan, de la cochinchine gobe Mouche d'amérique et sa femelle; Les Bengali; Merle à gorgenoire de St Domingue et les gobe-mouche du Sénégal; grinpereau du brésil idme et la laongue queue de cap de bonne Espérance.’ ¹⁰
The jug dated 1781 in the Frick Collection¹¹ bears the same incised mark as the British Museum example.¹² Both have metal mounts of similar form. The gilding on the Frick and British Museum pieces is not identical but the quality and arrangement on the New York piece suggest that it is also by Prévost (active 1757-97). The mark incised on the basin has been traced on plateaux of around 1779-1787/8 and has been tentatively ascribed to the repairer Nicolas Brachard père, who worked at the factory from 1754 until 1800/9, but was occupied either with bas-reliefs or sculpture when the basin was made.¹³
The identity of the original owner of this jug and basin has not yet been discovered, as they cannot be traced in the factory's sales records.
3. L. Courajod, ‘Livre-journal de Lazare-Duvaux, marcband-bijoutier ordinaire du roy 1748-1758, précedé d'une étude sur le gôut et le commerce des objets d’art au milieu du XVIIIe Siècle’, 2 vols. Paris, 1878, Vol. II, p. 104, no. 964. The mount (garniture) cost 27 livres.
4. Brunet, Marcelle and Préaud, Tamara, ‘Sèvres, des origines à nos jours’, Fribourg, 1978, no. 214. The form is discussed in detail by Savill, Rosalind, ‘The Wallace Collection, Catalogue of Sèvres Porcelain, London’, London, 1988, II, pp. 692-5, and the drawing reproduced on p. 693.
5. Sir G. de Bellaigue, Sèvres in ‘J. Pierpont Morgan, Collector, European Decorative Arts from the Wadsworth Atheneum’, ed. L.H. Roth, Hartford, Conn., 1987, no. 71, p. 184.
6. The use of the water jug and basin is extensively discussed by Savill, 1988, II, pp. 691-2.
7. MNS, Archives de Sèvres, Vj' 1, f. 3.
8. A detailed biography is given by Savill, 1988, III, pp. 995-6.
9. Eriksen, Svend, ‘Sèvres Porcelain, the James A. de Rothschild Collection at Waddesdon Manor’, Fribourg, 1968, no. 75.
10. Most have been traced in G. Le Clerc, comte de Buffon, ‘Histoire Naturelle des Oiseaux’, Paris, 1770-86; Vol. V, 1778, p. 33, pl. 127, fig. 2; Vol. VII, 1783, pp. 104-5, pl. 119; Vol. VII, 1783, p. 72, pl. 116; Vol. V, 1778, p. 254, pk. 566, figs. 1, 2; Vol. IV, 1777, pp. 280-2, p. 284, pl. 115, figs. 1, 3; Vol. IV, 1777, p. 102, pl. 559; Vol. V, 1778, p. 29, pl. 567, figs. 1, 3, inaccurate; Vol. Vi, 1783, pp. 358-60, pl. 83, fig. 2; ibid., fig. 1. Some of the birds appear in volumes published after 1780, but Buffon himself states in his 'Plan de l'Ouvrage' which prefaces the first volume (1770) that he had issued nearly 500 plates in the preceding five years. A volume recently discovered at the factory entitled ‘Collection d'Oiseaux Dess. et Gravés par Martinet’, dated 1771 and costing 552 livres 'en 8 Cahiers', may have been the source used by the factory painters.
11. M. Brunet, ‘The Frick Collection, VII, Porcelains’, New York, 1974, P- 290.
12. The mark may correspond to one noted on a cup by Savill, 1988, III, p. 1126 as 37a. It is unidentified.
13. Savill, 1988, III, p. 1088.
1) Paris, Hôtel Drouot, Couturier Nicolay, 15 June 1988, Lot 5, first size, green ground, birds by Evans, RE mark, unmounted, formerly Bensimon Collection.
2) USA, New York, see M. Brunet, ‘The Frick Collection, Vol. VII, Porcelains’, 1974, pp. 284-9 turquoise ground, with flowers and fruit, 1776, and pp. 290-4 turquoise ground with marine scenes, 1781.
Literature: Savage, George, ‘Seventeenth and Eighteenth-Century French Porcelain’, London, 1960, pl. 44b.
- On display (G46/dc21)
- Inside of base has an extensive firecrack; pinholes in the gilding suggest it was over-fired.
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- 2nd Marchioness of Hertford, 1834, recorded at Hertford House, London, in her Sitting Room on the Principal Floor, Inventory 203, p.14, valued at £25. 3rd Marquess of Hertford, recorded in the inventory of the effects of St Dunstan's Villa made on his death, 1842, and in the inventory made by his executors of the 'China & C removed from the Regent's Park villa to Dorchester House, Park Lane, London'. 4th Marquess of Hertford at Hertford House, London, recorded in the inventory made after his death, 1870. An undated 'List of Effects removed from Manchester House', probably drawn up around 1871 (Warwick County Record Office, CR 114A/720/7), lists 'A superb green ewer and font of the rare old Sevres with six medallionns of birds and trees with their names, most beautifully painted and enriched with gold laurel and oak borders' in the 'Marchioness's Private Sitting Room. East Corner'. (Aileen Dawson is indebted to John McKee, Richard Beresford, Susan Newell and Rosalind Savill of the Wallace Collection, London, for their help in unravelling the provenance of the jug and basin.)
5th Marchioness of Hertford, removed from Ragley Hall, Alcester, Warwickshire, sold Christie's, June 30 1921, Lot 10 for £100 to Mallett. Bequeathed by Sir B. Eckstein, Bt., 1948.
- Britain, Europe and Prehistory
- Registration number