- Museum number
Teapot (bouillotte); hard-paste porcelain; globular thrown body with grooved moulded spout terminating in a dolphin's head; ebony and silver-gilt handle fixed to the pot at either side by means of a screw and nut attachment; a similar attachment retains the metal finial to which is fixed a gilt chain leading to the handle at one side only; porcelain decorated in brown sprinkled with gold and on the body, neck and cover with chinoiseries in two colours of gold, carefully tooled, and silver; on one side a Chinese lady seated by a bird on a stand and being offered bottles on a tray by a Chinaman; on the other, a Chinese figure kneels by a fountain before two other figures, one seated, one standing; behind them a tree and a pagoda; maker's mark.
- Production date
Height: 18.30 centimetres (to top of handle)
- Curator's comments
- Dawson 1994
Exhibited: 'Documentary Continental Ceramics from the British Museum', exh., Inetrnational Ceramics Fair and Seminar Ltd., London, June 1985, no 47, catalogue compiled by A Dawson.
1) Sèvres, Musée national de Céramique, inv. MNCS 23260, illus. Brunet, Marcelle and Préaud, Tamara, ‘Sèvres, des origines à nos jours’, Fribourg, 1978, p. XLIX, p. 109
2) Sotheby's, 5 December 1989, Hector Binney sale, Lot 146, gold ground, painted with flowers by Parpette, 1779
3) Denmark, Copenhagen, David Collection, inv. 24/1978, illus. Eriksen, Svend, ‘The David Collection, French Porcelain’, Copenhagen, 1980, no. 62.
4) Switzerland, Geneva, Sotheby's, 14 November 1989, Lot 3, wine-red ground, painted with flowers by Bulidon, 1782.
5) USA, Boston, Museum of Fine Arts, inv. 1975. 658, dated 1779, painted by Castel with an exotic bird in a chinoiserie landscape on a white ground.²
6) USA, Hartford, Conn., Wadsworth Atheneum, roses in pink on a white ground, date-letter effaced, inv. 1917.1156.
7) N. Ikodinovic & Co., S.C., exh. at International Ceramics Fair and Seminar Ltd., London, June 1990, illus. Handbook, p. 65, dated 1779, chinoiserie figures in gold and enamels on a salmon-pink ground, no painter's mark, now in a private collection, USA.
The brown ground-colour sprinkled with gold corresponds with a ground referred to in a document written in 1781 on the subject of colours for hard-paste porcelain³ as avanturine. Under the heading ‘Ors en couleur’, the method of achieving the effect is described as follows:
Avanturine: Pour faire l'avanturine sur des fonds bleus ou bruns, carmins ou violets, on se sert d'une brosse de crin fin, dont on trempe le bout des crins dans de l'or preparé comme pour être employé au pinceau, et en ratissant les crins de cette brosse avec un petit Baton, on en fait jaillir des goutelettes sur la piece [sic] qu'on veut aventuriner. (Aventurine: to produce aventurine on blue, brown, pink or violet grounds, a fine brush is used which is dipped in gold prepared as if for use with a paintbrush. By tapping the hairs of the brush with a small stick, droplets are made to fall on the piece which one wishes to decorate with an aventurine ground.)
X-ray fluorescence analysis has confirmed that the white metal used over the avanturine glaze is silver, the yellow gold almost pure gold, and the remaining gold an alloy of silver and gold.⁴ A teapot and cover (‘théière Bouillard’) measuring around 12 cm in height with similar decoration dated 1781 is in the Metropolitan Museum, New York.⁵
The shape, which was thrown and turned (body) and moulded (spout) is, like most Vincennes/Sèvres teapot shapes, a pleasing one. However, the handle is poorly designed. Its metal parts have a tendency to bend because of the weight of the pot, a feature which is common to the Sèvres, Boston and British Museum examples, all examined by the writer. This may help to explain why the form first introduced in 1774⁶ under the name 'bouilloire' or 'bouillotte pour la toilette' (an example was first sold in December 1776)⁷ never apparently caught on. It seems to have been made in one size only but also in a gadrooned version.⁸
Dieu, who specialised in chinoiserie scenes is recorded in the registers of painters' (overtime) work as having decorated on 9 November 1778 “2 Bouillotes Une brune L'autre Couleur de Bellevue”⁹ for which he was paid 42 and 60 livres respectively. On 16 November “1 Bouillote fond brun” decorated with 'chinois' by Dieu is recorded in the enamel kiln register,¹⁰ and on 25 November it went for burnishing.¹¹ Four bouillottes were sold for 360 livres each in December 1778¹² but the sales records give no details of the decoration, nor of the purchasers. A year later one was sold to the Queen for 360 livres¹³ and another to the King at 312 livres.¹⁴
The source of the chinoiserie decoration, which is the style associated with Pillement, remains unknown.
A silver teapot of related form by the Paris goldsmith Jean-Louis Dieudonne is dated 1785.¹⁵
2. See J. H. Munger, A ‘Bouillote’ in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, in ‘Mélanges en Souvenir d'Elisalex d'Albis 1959-1998’, privately printed, 1999, pp. 103-9.
3. MNS, Archives de Sèvres, C2 liasse 2.
4. BM Research Laboratory 23080 X.
5. Inv. 54.147.16A and B, mark in blue crowned, date-letters AA and LG below, incised [?]Rd. The author is grateful to Clare Le Corbeiller for bringing this piece to her attention.
6. First documented in the register of the ‘travaux des pâtes’ - MNS, Archives de Sèvres, Va' 2 under the names of Pépin, Choulet and others. The author is grateful to Tamara Preaud for this information.
7. MNS, Archives de Sèvres, Vy 6, f. 125, sold for 72 livres at Versailles on 5 December 1776.
8. A ‘bouillotte 'a Gaudron'’ is mentioned in the factory records in March 1779, MNS, Archives de Sèvres, Va 4, Godin, quoted Savill, Rosalind, ‘The Wallace Collection, Catalogue of Sèvres Porcelain, London’, London, 1988, II, p. 563, f.n. 7. Only one example has been recorded (whereabouts unknown, seen by David Cohen, 1987, photographs kept at the Archives de Sèvres), which is undated, and bears the mark of the gilder Chauveaux. A drawing for this shape is preserved at the factory.
9. MNS, Archives de Sèvres, Vj'1, fol. 119V°.
10. MNS, Archives de Sèvres, Vl'1, f. 32.
11. MNS, Archives de Sèvres, Vl'1, f. 33V.
12. MNS, Archives de Sèvres, Vj'1, f. 120, f. 125V, 128V, f. 169, 179 on 26 December, on 12 December.
13. MNS, Archives de Sèvres, Vj'1, f. 179.
14. MNS, Archives de Sèvres, Vj'1, f. 178.
15. L. Reau, ‘L'Art en France au XVIIème Siècle, style Louis XVI 1760-1789’, Paris, 1952, fig. 213, Puiforcat Collection.
Literature: Dawson, Aileen, Europaïsche Keramik im British Museum, ‘Weltkunst’, 1 July 1985, pp. 14-16, fig. 4.
- On display (G46/dc21)
- Spout restored.
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- R Bernal, MP. sale Christie's, 5 March 1855, lot 468; note in ms in catalogue kept in British Museum 'Bought by Bale at Bernal Sale for £30. "Mr Bernal purchased this remarkable piece of hard paste of Mr Durlacher for eight guineas".' ; C S Bale sale, Christie's, 23 May 1881, Lot 1332, 10 guineas; C Beckett-Denison sale, Christie's, 8 June 1885, Lot 183, £6; Bequeathed by Sir A W Franks, 1897.
- Britain, Europe and Prehistory
- Registration number