Collection online

saucer / milk-cup

  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Description

    Milk Cup, Cover and Stand (gobelet à lait couvert et soucoupe); soft-paste porcelain; thrown; cup of bucket form with two ear-shaped handles, moulded with a central ridge and terminating in leaves; domed cover with flower knop; deep saucer with flared sides; painted within a richly gilt and tooled reserve on either side of the cup are two allegorical scenes: a) young woman in landscape, clothed in a pink classical-style robe which leaves her arms and left upper body uncovered, steps up with her right foot to arrange a garland around full-length statue of Aesculapius, behind her is a bird, perhaps a pelican; b) young girl seated on grassy bank wearing pale blue classical-style robe which leaves her arms uncovered, caresses a white dog standing on hind legs, with her left foot she crushes a human mask, beside which is a snake; on the cover is a French ducal coat of arms and monogram beneath a ducal coronet, each within a richly gilt and tooled reserve; saucer is decorated with three panels of flowers on the border in reserve; in the centre allegorical trophies, including a bundle of fasces, the scales of Justice, Mercury's thyrsis entwined with two green serpents, and Aesculapius' rod entwined with a green serpent; gilt dentil rims to each piece; handles partly gilt, terminals gilt, gilt line near foot of cup; maker's mark.


  • Producer name

  • School/style

  • Date

    • 1759
  • Production place

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 15.5 centimetres (cup and cover)
    • Diameter: 21.6 centimetres (saucer)
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Type

      • Inscription Position

        cover within a gilt reserve
      • Inscription Content

      • Inscription Type

        maker's mark
      • Inscription Position

        base of saucer
      • Inscription Comment

        Interlaced 'LL' enclosing date-letter 'G' for 1759, and four dots arranged vertically, painted in blue enamel; suspension hole.
      • Inscription Type

        maker's mark
      • Inscription Position

        base of cup
      • Inscription Comment

        Interlaced 'LL' enclosing date-letter 'G' for 1759 above painter's mark 'k' for Charles-Nicolas Dodin in blue enamel; 'T' incised.
  • Curator's comments

    Dawson 1994
    The form, made in two sizes of which this is the larger, is known at Vincennes in 1752 and was still in production in the 1780s. It is fully discussed by Savill(2) who illustrates two drawings of 1753, and quotes recipes given in the 'Encyclopédie' (1772) for milky drinks and diets. The saucer was used for cooling the drink, or for slices of bread.
    The decoration on these pieces is exceptional. The significance of the two allegorical scenes on the cup has not been precisely determined, although one is clearly a sacrifice to Aesculapius, perhaps for the health of a child.
    The other scene concerns (? the reward of) fidelity, symbolised by the dog, and the defeat of deceit and false appearances represented by the mask and the snake. The trophies on the saucer are almost certainly connected with scenes on the cup.
    The key to the iconography rests in the identification of the arms and monogram on the cover. The arms have been traced(3) to a member of the Grollier family, Pierre-Louis, marquis de Grollier et de Trefort, comte de Maisonseule, vicomte de Thil, etc., who was born in Lyon in 1730, married Charlotte-Eugénie-Sophie de Fuligny-Damas (1742-1828) in 1760 and was executed on 26 December 1793. The arms are described and illustrated in W. Poidebard, 'Notices généalogiques'.
    No trace has yet been found of the cup and saucer in the factory records to confirm that it was made at or near the time of the Grollier/Fuligny-Damas wedding, but it is possible that such special commissions were recorded elsewhere than in the surviving sales registers, especially as no record has been found of reg. no. 1948,1203.4. Despite the poor quality of the cover, the pieces were certainly decorated at the factory. In later life the marquise de Grollier achieved a considerable reputation as a flower-painter. A pupil of Spaendonck, she was called by Canova the 'Raphael des fleurs'. After the Restoration she opened a studio at Epinay and was once thought to have worked at the Sèvres factory.(4)
    Little is known of her early life, so that interpretation of the scenes on the cup must remain incomplete.
    For biographical details of Dodin, see Savill.(5) The incised mark T is discussed by the same writer.(6)

    (1) The author is most grateful to Lady Cynthia Postan for assistance in tracing the history of this piece.
    (2) Savill, 1988, II, pp. 667-9.
    (3) The arms were identified by Monsieur Philippe Palasi, and the author is indebted to Bernard Dragesco for kindly communicating this information to her.
    (4) There is no evidence for this. The marquise de Grollier was a member of the Société d'Horticulture. A tribute to her by the General Secretary of the Society, Chevalier Soulange Bodin, was published in 'Annales d'Horticulture', December 1828, 'Notice nécrologique sur Madame de Grollier membre de la société d'Horticulture', pp. 348-54. The author is grateful to the staff of Cambridge University Library for making this number of the periodical available to her.
    (5) Savill, 1988, III, pp. 1029-32.
    (6) Ibid., p. 1109, and see cat. 93.

    Literature: Savill, Rosalind, 'The Wallace Collection, Catalogue of Sèvres Porcelain, London', London, 1988, II, p. 673, f.n. 3a

    Exhibited: 1985, 'Documentary Continental Ceramics from the British Museum', London, International Ceramics Fair and Seminar, June 1985, no. 46, cat. compiled by A. Dawson

    Comparable Examples: Listed by Savill, 1988, II, p. 673, f.n. 3.


  • Bibliography

    • Dawson 1985 46 bibliographic details
    • Dawson 1994 97 bibliographic details
  • Location

    Not on display

  • Condition

    Two tiny chips to inner rim of cover (possibly firing damage), discolouration and severe 'bloating' on inside of cover, well of saucer slightly scratched.

  • Subjects

  • Associated names

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Acquisition notes

    Charles Robert, 3rd Baron Carrington (later Marquess of Linclonshire, 1843-1928), recorded 17 March 1864 at 8, Whitehall, London, 'List and Valuation of the Valuable Sevres [sic] Chelsea and Dresden China in the Mansion of the Right Hon. Lord Carrington', Case 57, p.18, when it was valued at £250. Marquess of Lincolnshire, GCMG, deceased, sold at Christie's 5 December 1928, Lot 23, £304-10s. Alfred Hill Collection, sold at Sotheby's 15 May 1942, Lot 50 £210. Bequeathed to the BM by Sir B Eckstein, Bt, 1948.(Dawson 1994)

  • Department

    Britain, Europe and Prehistory

  • Registration number



If you’ve noticed a mistake or have any further information about this object, please email: 

View open data for this object with SPARQL endpoint

Object reference number: MCT13031

British Museum collection data is also available in the W3C open data standard, RDF, allowing it to join and relate to a growing body of linked data published by organisations around the world.

View this object

Support the Museum:
donate online

The Museum makes its collection database available to be used by scholars around the world. Donations will help support curatorial, documentation and digitisation projects.

About the database

The British Museum collection database is a work in progress. New records, updates and images are added every week.

More about the database 


Work on this database is supported by a range of sponsors, donors and volunteers.

More about supporters and how you
can help