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Work Tea, coffee, and chocolate service offered by Louis XV to Queen Marie Leszczynska after the birth of the dauphin in 1729

Department of Decorative Arts: 18th century: rococo

Nécessaire offert par Louis XV à la reine Marie Leczinska, à l'occasion de la naissance du Dauphin en 1729

© 2008 RMN / Jean-Gilles Berizzi

Decorative Arts
18th century: rococo

Author(s):
Barbier Muriel

This tea, coffee and chocolate service, which originally bore the arms of Queen Marie Leczinska (1703-68), commemorates the birth of the Dauphin (father of Louis XVI, Louis XVIII and Charles X) in 1729). Most of the pieces, by Henry-Nicolas Cousinet, are in gilded silver, and they bear witness to the emergence of the rococo style. Other pieces, in Chinese, Japanese and Meissen porcelain, show the fascination for this material in the first half of the eighteenth century.

A service for all occasions

The service Queen Marie Leszczynska received after the birth of the dauphin comprises numerous pieces for taking tea, coffee, or chocolate, beverages considered exotic at the time and hugely popular at court. The chest contains objects in gilded silver: a tea caddy, a coffee caddy, a chocolate pot on a lamp stand, a spice box (it was customary to add spices to hot chocolate), a coffee grinder, a small, seashell-shaped cream jug, a candlestick, a tea strainer, a bell, a funnel, sugar tongs, and a long-handled spoon. There are also porcelain pieces: two tea bowls with saucers, a teapot, two cups and two stands set in silver gilt, and a sugar bowl. The service was kept in the queen's large study at Versailles and could be used while traveling.

The silver-gilt pieces

The pieces in silver gilt are stamped with the hallmark of the silversmith Henry-Nicolas Cousinet, who later became sculptor to the Prince de Condé. The gentle, bulbous, dissymmetrical forms of these pieces and the choice of decoration bear witness to the emergence of the rococo style in official art. The small, seashell-shaped cream jug has a highly curved rim and a scribed handle. The chocolate pot with a dolphin spout has a stand with three dolphin legs - allusions to the birth of the Dauphin - and is decorated with small garlands; the lid is surmounted by a tiny bouquet of flowers. The finely detailed chasing is highly emblematic of the rococo spirit and of Cousinet's craftsmanship. The dolphin theme reappears several times on other objects in the service, as do reeds, waves, seashells, and flowers, all recurrent motifs in the rococo repertoire.

The porcelain pieces

The bowls, saucers, cups, and teapot are from different sources. Some of the pieces are Chinese and Japanese, others are from the Meissen manufactory in Saxony, whose intial production attempted to imitate Chinese porcelain. The two bowls and their stands and the teapot are decorated with flowers and landscapes evoking Chinese motifs. The two cups are plain white porcelain set in silver gilt. Chinese white porcelain was greatly appreciated and was imitated by European manufactories. For this reason, it was customary to set them, like most far-eastern works, in gilded bronze or in more precious metals, as is the case with the Louvre service. The presence of such objects in Queen Marie Leszczynska's service illustrates the near-fantastical interest in the Orient in the eighteenth century.

Bibliography

"Vingt ans d'acquisition au Musée du Louvre 1947-1967", Paris, 1967-1968, p. 78.

Technical description

  • Henry-Nicolas COUSINET (? - 1768)

    Nécessaire offert par Louis XV à la reine Marie Leczinska, à l'occasion de la naissance du Dauphin en 1729

    1729 - 1730

  • Argent doréPorcelaines de Chine et du Japon

  • Provient du grand cabinet de Marie Leczinska à Versailles, dévolu, après la mort de la reine en 1768, à la maréchale de MouchyDon de la Société des Amis du Louvre et M. Stavros S. Niarchos, 1955 , 1955

    OA 9598 b

  • Decorative Arts

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Additional information about the work

Hallmark of Paris, under the control of Farmer General Cottin, 1729Hallmark of Henry-Nicolas Cousinet