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Work "Ordinary" wine cooler

Department of Decorative Arts: 18th century: neoclassicism

Seau à bouteille

© 2005 Musée du Louvre / Peter Harholdt

Decorative Arts
18th century: neoclassicism

Author(s):
Muriel Barbier

This wine cooler was commissioned in 1782, under Louis XVI, as part of a service for the Gobelet du Roi, the department of the royal household responsible for the bread, fruit, and drink served at the king's table. Deliveries were made until 1790, helping the Sèvres manufactory to carry on despite the revolutionary upheaval. The shape of this "ordinary" or everyday wine cooler was designed by Jean-Claude Duplessis. The painted decoration of the example in the Louvre is by Geneviève Taillandier.

An "ordinary" wine cooler

A wine cooler containing crushed ice was used to cool bottles of wine before serving. The shape of this "ordinary" wine cooler was designed at the Vincennes manufactory in the early 1750s by Jean-Claude Duplessis (d. 1774). The Louvre wine cooler is cylindrical in form and rests on a low foot whose edge is painted with a thick gold fillet. It has two scrolled handles picked out in gold and a wide mouth whose rim has a gold saw-tooth decoration. This shape had a lasting success at Sèvres, remaining in production until the 1790s. A hole was made in the bottom of the Louvre wine cooler at some point, no doubt to turn it into a flower-pot holder.

The "Gobelet du Roi"

The Gobelet du Roi was one of seven departments making up the Maison-Bouche, the royal kitchens. With the Cuisine-Bouche, the Gobelet belonged to the Bouche du Roi, the body responsible solely for the tables of the King and the royal family. The officers of the Gobelet were divided again into two sub-departments, the Panneterie-Bouche and the Échansonnerie-Bouche, each under its own head, assisted by twelve chefs who served at court on a quarterly basis, and by assistants and storekeepers. The former laid the table and provided the bread, salt, table linen, and fruit; the latter served drinks and refreshments. The Gobelet du Roi service was thus mainly used for serving cold drinks, ices, sorbets, and spirits.

Decoration by Geneviève Taillandier

The Gobelet du Roi service was commissioned for the Château de Versailles by Louis XVI in 1782. Delivery was made from 1783 onward, in several stages. The Louvre wine cooler is one of a series of sixteen delivered in 1783. In total, 588 pieces were delivered that year. Many others would follow in 1786, 1787, 1788, and 1790. The painter Geneviève Taillandier, active at Sèvres from 1774 to 1798 and married to the flower painter Vincent Taillandier, was responsible for the decoration of the cooler. Its body is adorned with a garland of cornflowers (pinks), naturalistically rendered, which entwine a red line. The entire service had this same decoration. The Thiers Collection in the Louvre has other pieces from the service: a sugar pot of 1786, painted by Jacques Fontaine; a plate of 1788, decorated by Marie-Anne Gérard; a glass cooler of 1788, also by Geneviève Taillandier; and a round compotier of 1790.

Bibliography

Nouvelles acquisitions du département des Objets d'art (1995-2002), Paris, RMN, 2003, p. 150.
Versailles et les tables royale en Europe, Catalogue d'exposition, Versailles, 1993, p. 292.

Technical description

  • Manufacture royale de porcelaine de Sèvres

    Seau à bouteille

    1783

  • Porcelaine tendre

    H. : 25 cm. ; D. : 20 cm.

  • Don de Monsieur John Whitehead, 1999

    OA 11927

  • Decorative Arts

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Additional information about the work

Painted marks: in red, two Ls interlaced; date letters ff for 1783; hard-porcelain mark (crown); partly obliterated mark of the painter Geneviève Taillandier (fleur de lys)