France, 19th Century
Interlaced L's with an S mark and dot underneath
a) 21.25 in (54.1 cm) high
b) 21.5 in (54.8 cm) high
(Set of two)
NON-EXPORTABLE UNREGISTERED ANTIQUITY
Sèvres porcelain, one of the most luxurious brands of ceramics, was a favourite among European royalty, aristocracy and collectors of the 19th and 20th centuries. Originally founded at Chateau de Vincennes, France, in 1738, it relocated to Sèvres in 1756 under the direction of Madame de Pompadour. It was the official porcelain manufacturer to the crown, and Louis XV, the king of France, became its sole owner three years later. Under his and Madame de Pompadour's patronage, it became the preeminent porcelain company in Europe in the second half of the 18th century.
Over time, Sèvres produced both soft-paste and hard-paste porcelain, with exquisite designs and decorations. It also introduced the delicate "biscuit porcelain," a natural-toned, unglazed form of porcelain, often moulded as sculptures portraying scenes from classic mythologies or pastoral life. Sèvres was known for producing dinner sets and coffee and tea services, extravagant vases decorated with exotic flowers and birds on brilliantly coloured backgrounds, embellished with fine detail of curls, scrolls, and trellis patterns in gold.
"The range of Sèvres creations is extensive, varying in shape, historical styles, motifs, and ornamentation. Vases typically feature double round, oval, or elliptical finely painted scenes edged in white, against pastel backgrounds. One side portrays figures, while the other features flower bouquets. Their lavish gilding, a royal touch reserved especially for Sèvres creations, is often embellished with engraved detail, like flowers or geometric motifs." ((Melody Amsel-Arieli, "How Sèvres survived the French Revolution and why it's so hard to avoid fakes and pastiches," Antique Trader, 10 August 2011, online) The company also developed unique colours such as the rose Pompadour, created by chemist Jean Hellot and characterised by its rose-pink ground colour, and bleu de roi, a cobalt-blue enamel.
During the French Revolution (1789-1799), the company suffered financial setbacks and it was no longer a royal enterprise. With the appointment of Alexandre Brongniart (1770-1847) as its director in the beginning of the 19th century, and later Napolean Bonaparte, the industry revived. "Sèvres porcelain regained its former glory under Napoleon Bonaparte, who assumed power in 1804. He promoted elaborately ornamented pieces in the classical style. The Empire's richly decorated, themed dinner sets, for example, were enjoyed by distinguished guests, visiting rulers, and Napoleon himself. These pieces typically feature florals, landscapes, or cameo portraits, framed by solid gold edging accented with stylized palm fronds, the ancient Greek symbol of victory." (Amsel-Arieli, online)
As of today, Sèvres produces both traditional and contemporary porcelain on commission, and continues to hold a prestigious place in the porcelain industry.