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Work Covered dish (porringer) with the arms of the Grand Dauphin, son of Louis XIV

Department of Decorative Arts: 17th century

Écuelle emblazoned with the arms of the Grand Dauphin, son of Louis XIV

© 1988 RMN / Daniel Arnaudet

Decorative Arts
17th century

Author(s):
Barbier Muriel

Very few pieces of silverware have come down to us from the seventeenth century: many were melted down to support war efforts or because they had gone out of fashion, or were simply destroyed or stolen. This remarkable dish is particularly interesting as it bears the arms of the person for whom it was intended: the Grand Dauphin, son of Louis XIV. The piece, by Sébastien Leblond, tells us much about the decorative conventions of the second half of the seventeenth century.

Porringers

Porringers (individual covered bowls or dishes) of this type were never intended for use as tableware. They were used solely for drinking broth at breakfast time, upon waking. People drank by lifting the dish directly to their lips, hence the decorative horizontally-placed handles and small spout or extension, which made drinking easier.

A form characteristic of the seventeenth century

Flat-bottomed porringers of this type are directly descended from the forms of medieval vessels. During the course of the seventeenth century, two symmetrical handles were added, together with a lid which could be removed by means of a ring on the top. The Louvre bowl is very simple in shape, being slightly flattened with a groove on the lid forming a small parapet: this form was extremely common in the seventeenth century, and a small number of similar dishes have survived. In silver gilt, it is reminiscent of the gold tableware used by Louis XIV. Its sober shape enhances the play of light on the surface of the metal.

Personalized decoration

Each of the handles, which have been cast separately, chased and attached to the bowl, is in the form of two dolphins set around a single shell, with a compartment containing overlapping shells. This ornamentation alludes directly to the Grand Dauphin. The flat lid has a groove around the edge and a chased frieze with shells and scrolls on an unpolished, matt background. In the center of the lid, Leblond has designed a large rosette of intertwined fleurons, palmettes and foliage, also on a matt background. The Dauphin's monogram is engraved to either side of this central rosace: two intertwined "Ls" forming a fleur-de-lys, framed by two dolphins. Finally, the quartered arms of France and the Dauphiné feature on the body of the bowl, combined with the chains of the Orders of St Michael and of the Holy Spirit. The dish was clearly made for the personal use of "Monseigneur", as the Grand Dauphin was known. It does not appear on any of the contemporary lists of French royal commissions for objets d'art, and was evidently intended as an item of purely personal property.

Technical description

  • Sébastien LEBLOND (master in Paris in 1674)

    Écuelle emblazoned with the arms of the Grand Dauphin, son of Louis XIV

    1690-92

  • Gilded silver

    H. 6.50 cm; W. 29.80 cm; Diam. 18.50 cm

  • Gift of Corroyer, 1937

    OA 7757

  • Decorative Arts

    Display case 11

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