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Work "Vessel" Pot Pourri

Department of Decorative Arts: 18th century: rococo

"Vessel" Pot Pourri

© 2013 Musée du Louvre / Thierry Ollivier

Decorative Arts
18th century: rococo

Author(s):
Barbier Muriel

This "vessel" pot pourri in the shape of a ship bears "Chinese" decoration on a pink ground. The shape was created by Jean-Claude Duplessis (circa 1695-1774) and the decoration painted by Charles-Nicolas Dodin (1734-1803). This object, which was part of the mantelpiece garniture in the chamber of Madame de Pompadour (1721-1764) at the Hôtel d'Evreux, is emblematic of the Rocaille style and the taste of the king's "favorite" for "Chinese"-style decoration on a pink ground.

A shape created by Jean-Claude Duplessis

The pot pourri "vessel" shape, which evokes the goldworked 'nefs' (or 'ships') of the royal tables, is one of the most famous and original shapes of the Sèvres Manufactory. It was created by Jean-Claude Duplessis, who was responsible for a considerable number of models at Sèvres in a new repertory that was marked by the Rocaille style. The plaster model is still conserved at the manufactory. This pot-pourri comprises two parts: a vase in the form of a ship set on a scroll-footed base and an openwork lid simulating the mast of a ship. Each extremity is decorated with a lion's head in relief, a bowsprit protruding from the mouth. Nine other examples of this model are known, now in the British royal collections, the Wallace Collection in London, Waddesdon Manor, the Frick Collection in New York, the Walters Art Gallery in Baltimore, and the J. Paul Getty Museum in Malibu.

Decoration attributed to Charles-Nicolas Dodin

The decoration of this pot pourri, attributed to Charles-Nicolas Dodin (1734-1803) like the "dolphin" pot pourri that accompanied it, stands out against a rare pink ground, a color that appeared at Sèvres in 1757, here heightened with blue and green. An oblong space was left in reserve on each face, forming a cartouche encircled by green palms and combed gold. The scene on the cartouche is of Chinese inspiration; it represents three figures sitting on a terrace, undoubtedly playing the game of "go" at a round table. The cartouche on the reverse contains flowered branches of Oriental inspiration. Between 1760 and 1763, Dodin painted at least twenty-five pieces with Chinese decoration, a type of decoration that Madame de Pompadour seems to have greatly appreciated. The scene on the pot-pourri in the Louvre is an interpretation of an engraving by Gabriel Huquier père (1697-1772), after a work by François Boucher (1703-1770), The Tea. Like most of the pieces with Chinese decoration created at Sèvres, this work is quite fanciful.

A garniture from the Hôtel d'Evreux

The Hôtel d'Evreux, built in the Faubourg Saint-Honoré by Armand-Claude Mollet between 1718 and 1720 for Henri Louis de la Tour d'Auvergne, count of Evreux, was acquired by Madame de Pompadour in 1753. It was a large townhouse that the king's favorite had transformed, refurbishing the decoration in contemporary style. There in particular she kept an important collection of porcelain. In her chamber was a mantelpiece garniture comprising the Louvre's "vessel" pot pourri, a pair of "fountain" or "dolphin" pot pourris conserved at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, and two "girandole" or "sconced" pot pourris, of which the present location is unknown. This garniture was delivered to her on May 30, 1760, along with two candelabra, which are also conserved in the Louvre.

Bibliography

Madame de Pompadour et les arts, Versailles, Editions de la Réunion des musées nationaux, 2002, p. 443.
Un défi au goût, musée du Louvre, Paris, Editions de la Réunuion des musées nationaux, 1997, p. 75.

Technical description

  • Sèvres ManufactoryJean-Claude Duplessis (circa 1695-1774)Charles-Nicolas Dodin (1734-1803)

    "Vessel" Pot Pourri

    Circa 1760

    Bed chamber of Madame de Pompadour, Hôtel d'Evreux (currently the Palais de l'Elysée), Paris, France

    Sèvres, France

  • Soft-paste porcelain

    H. 37 cm; W. 35 cm

  • Purchased 1984

    OA 10965

  • Decorative Arts

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Additional information about the work

Mark painted in blue: mark of the Sèvres Manufactory, two intertwined Ls.Hand-written label: P.48.418.