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Work Chinese reticulated service

Department of Decorative Arts: 19th century

Déjeuner "chinois réticulé"

© 1987 RMN / Daniel Arnaudet

Decorative Arts
19th century

Author(s):
Muriel Barbier

This Chinese reticulated service belonging to Queen Marie-Amélie (1782-1866) was one of the finest pieces to come out of the Sèvres porcelain factory during the reign of Louis-Philippe. It consists of a tray with everything needed to serve tea, coffee, or chocolate. The openwork decoration is exceptionally delicate and the bright colours are characteristic of the period.

The purpose of the service

The service includes everything needed to serve a small number of guests with tea, coffee, or hot chocolate - pots and cups. Such services sometimes also included egg cups and salt cellars. Marie-Amélie's service consists of a total of ten items: the tray, a bowl, a coffee-pot, a tea-pot, a milk jug, a sugar bowl, and four cups and saucers. The bowl is presented on a sort of pedestal in the centre of the tray, while the other items are arranged on the tray itself.

A technically innovative service

The Chinese reticulated service was one of the most technically innovative pieces made at Sèvres during the period when Brongniart was in charge of the factory (he was appointed in 1800). The service, inspired by late Chinese designs, was the work of Hyacinthe Régnier, a sculptor and modeller in the factory's employ. The coffee-pot, tea-pot, milk jug, sugar bowl, cups, and saucers all have a double thickness of porcelain for the inner walls and an openwork outer wall, hence the term "reticulated", which describes a net pattern. The handles and lips of the pots and jug resemble brown bamboo - another reference to China. The technical virtuosity of the forms is matched by the different coloured grounds. The ground of the tray is yellow edged with green, as is that of the bowl, which, like the tray, is decorated with alternating cartels of birds and flowers on a black ground. Around the neck of the pots and jug is a black strip painted with brightly coloured flowers. These were the work of Pierre Huart, who was employed at the Sèvres factory from 1811 to 1846.

Making the service: a long process

Brongniart took great care over this service, revealing his deep interest for the design. He presented it at several exhibitions at the factory at a number of stages in its manufacture. The first pieces were shown at the factory exhibition in 1832. At the 1833 exhibition, he showed just a few pieces on a simple wooden tray. By 1835, 9 of the finished pieces were displayed on an oval tray.Finally, in 1838, the whole service was unveiled. Brongniart's interest in the service is confirmed by his inclusion of the design in his Traité des arts céramiques of 1844, in which he explains the various stages of production. Such Chinese reticulated services were very popular. Queen Marie-Amélie ordered no fewer than seven. She purchased the service now in the Louvre in 1840. It came with a box, which suggests that she ordered the services to give to friends as gifts.

Bibliography

Catalogue d’exposition : « Un Âge d’or des arts décoratifs 1814-1848 », Paris, Éditions de la Réunion des musées nationaux, 1991, p. 279
Catalogue d’exposition : « Nouvelles acquisitions du département des objets d’art 1985-1989 », Paris, Éditions de la Réunion des musées nationaux, 1990, pp. 272-275.

Technical description

  • Manufacture de Sèvres

    Déjeuner "chinois réticulé"

    1840

    Sèvres

  • Porcelaine dure

    Plateau : H. : 20 cm. ; D. : 50 cm.

  • Don de M. et Mme Jean-Marie Rossi, 1986

    OA 11098, OA 11099, OA 11100, OA 11101, OA 11102, OA 11103, OA 11104, OA 11105, OA 11106, OA 11107, OA 11108, OA 11109, OA 11110, OA 11111

  • Decorative Arts

    Richelieu wing
    1st floor
    Chenavard
    Room 80
    Vitrine 1

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