A Soft-Paste Sèvres Porcelain Plate made for Madame du Barry, 1773
With the factory mark enclosing the date-letter U for 1773, painter’s mark a star for Antoine Caton (active at Vincennes and Sèvres 1749-98), gilders’ marks VD for Jean-Baptiste-Emmanuel Vandé, known as Vandé père (active at Vincennes and Sèvres 1753-79) and LG for Etienne-Henry Le Guay (active at Vincennes and Sèvres 1748-49, 1751-97).
This plate was produced in 1773 as part of a service intended for Louis XV’s last mistress the comtesse du Barry. The pattern is the same as the one for the service given in December 1773 by Louis XV to Maria Carolina, Queen of Naples, one of Marie-Antoinette’s elder sisters. For that service, the central initials are CL, reflecting either two of Maria Carolina’s names (Carolina Luisa), or the conjoined initials of her and her infant daughter Luisa, since the service was presented on the occasion of young Luisa’s baptism, for which Louis XV stood godfather.
But Louis XV died on 10 May 1774, before Madame du Barry’s service had been completed, and she was immediately sent into exile, and the service was never delivered to her.
Only a very few pieces had actually been fully decorated before Louis XV’s death, including this plate and a small number of others: one in the collection of the Duke of Buccleugh at Boughton House, one in the Victoria and Albert Museum, and one in the Pompey collection, sold Christie’s New York, 23 May 2002, lot 47.
A large number of incomplete components of this service remained in the Sèvres manfactory’s storerooms until the Revolution, when they were sold off to dealers who had the painted decoration competed, or gilded them to their own designs often with unfortunate results. One plate of this type was in the Ziesseniss collection, sold Christie’s, Paris, 6 December 2001, lot 232. Some of the painting on that plate is clearly original, as is the floral initial B, but there is no gilded D and the gilding of the border is much simpler.
The later-decorated plates generally have simpler gilding and often added spurious marks. The mark of the gilder Vandé who left the factory in 1780 is another indication of the authenticity of this plates.
Whilst it was made for Madame du Barry, it was probably never delivered to her.