Saturday, April 3, 2010


Sevres porcelain is widely known to be both the French porcelain of royalty and the royal porcelain of France. King Louis XV, known as the most notable art patron in modern history, became the major customer and joined as a shareholder of the factory in 1745. The factory had a goal to deliver a superior product in order to compete with the early Meissen, Berlin, and other continental porcelains. By 1752, the king became the major shareholder. He deemed that this porcelain to be designated as royal, or Manufacturer Royale du Porcelaine. He conducted annual sales from his palace grounds at Versailles, encouraged his court and other royalty to buy his product, and even restricted other porcelain factories from using gilding or colored grounds on their porcelains.

When the operation ran into financial troubles in 1759, King Louis XV acquired the factory as royal property. The king took over the manufacturing operations, and considered himself the principal client and salesperson of these extraordinary porcelain creations. The factory was moved to the village of Sevres southwest of Paris; a location near to the palace of Versailles and close to the home of Madame de Pompadour at the Chateau de Bellevue. From that time the porcelain became officially known as Sevres porcelain.

The earliest Sevres had graceful shapes and soft colors. Sevres pieces produced from 1750 to 1770 were decorated with brilliant colors and heavy gilding. Many of these pieces had richly colored backgrounds and white panels painted with birds, flowers, landscapes, or people. Sevres is also noted for its fine figurines of biscuit (unglazed porcelain). The Sevres factory introduced hard-paste porcelain in the 1770s and soft-paste porcelain production ended in 1804.

The artists decorating many modern day Limoges boxes were inspired by the early intricate patterns and elaborate gilding of the Sevres era, thus the creation of pattern commonly known as Sevres. Pictured  is a modern example of a Limoges box from Limoges Imports - a footed urn. Also pictured is an example of what may have inspired the pattern: a Sevres Beau Bleu Dejeuner c1780, which sold for $6000 at Christies, New York in May 2008.

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