A Pair of Soft-Paste Sèvres Porcelain Half-Decanter Coolers made for the Comtesse d’Artois, 1789
Interlaced Ls, date-letter MM for 1789, on one painter’s mark L for Denis Levé (active 1754-93, 1795-1805), gilder’s mark a circle of dots for Boileau (first name unknown, active 1783-89), on the other painter’s mark nq for Nicquet (first name unknown, active 1755-1807), gilder’s mark fm for François Mirey (active 1787-92)
The service from which these seaux come was delivered to the Comtesse d’Artois, wife of Louis XVI’s youngest brother the Comte d’Artois, who subsequently reigned as King Charles X from 1824 to 1830.
The decoration is identical to that on a service ‘riches en couleurs, et riche en or’ which was personally chosen by Marie-Antoinette in February 1784 from the factory’s watercolour pattern book. After the Queen ordered her service she was asked if it could be given to King Gustav III of Sweden, who was due to come to France in July, and she agreed on condition that another identical service should be made for her as quickly as possible, which it was by late August.
At some point, probably mostly in the 19th century parts of these services became combined. A sale at Parke Bernet auctions, New York, in 1948, contained a group which included pieces from the Gustav III, Marie-Antoinette and Comtesse d’Artois services. Much of this large group belongs to a Brazilian family collection.
This service included 8 seaux à demi bouteille, costing 144 livres each. Because of the imprecise descriptions and size notations in sale catalogues it is difficult to follow the whereabouts of pieces of this shape at auction.
The factory’s artists’ ledgers record on 28 February 1789 that Denis Levé painted two seaux à demi bouteille, and on 17 February 1789 that Nicquet (first name unknown) painted four – that accounts for our two examples. Two more are recorded on 2 March 1789 as painted by Vincent Taillandier.