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Pair of Seaux à Verres Crénéles. Soft paste porcelain. Length 33.5 cm. Interlaced L’s in underglaze blue, date-letter ‘H’ for 1761, painter’s mark for Dominique Joffroy (painter of flowers and figures 1753-70), 1761. Michele Beiny (stand 272). TEFAF 2015 Antiques (13-22 March 2015)

The seaux are decorated on a dark blue ground with pebbled gilding known as bleu lapis caillouté, with a reserve on each side painted with floral bouquets in polychrome enamels. Two services fitting their description were sold in 1761, and so these monteiths either come from a set delivered to Florent-Louis-Marie, comte du Châtelet-Lomont or from the one delivered to Claude Bonnet, the Paris agent of the Duke and Duchess of Parma.

On 1 August, 1761 the comte du Châtelet purchased a dessert service, painted in lapis caillouté, for 6.642 livres, and which comprised 106 pieces, four of which were seaux crénelés at a cost of 168 livres each.

On 28 November, 1761 a service also described as lapis caillouté was delivered to Claude Bonnet, a Paris dealer and the agent for the Duke and Duchess of Parma (Don Filippo and Madame Elisabeth, Infanta of Spain). This service cost 8.250 livres and comprised 192 pieces, two of which were seaux à verres crénelés, also at a price of 168 livres each.

Part of a dessert service (49 pieces) with the same decoration and dated 1761 is in the British Royal collection: it includes some elements painted by Joffroy. (See French Porcelain in the Collection of Her Majesty the Queen, Vol. II, pp. 583-4, no. 142). Two monteiths with the same decoration are in Waddesdon Manor: one is dated 1761 and is painted by Xhrouuet; the other is dated 1768 and therefore comes from the King Christian VII service (See Waddesdon Manor Catalogue, pp.114-5, no. 39; and pp. 238-9, no. 82). Two small glass coolers, seaux à verre, one of them dated H for 1761, is in the Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore.

According to Sven Eriksen, the shape of this type of cooler is an English 17th-century invention, first made in silver. It received its English name from a Scotsman ‘Monsieur Monteigh’ who ‘wore the bottoms of his cloake or coate so notched UUUU’. When in use the cooler was filled with crushed ice or cold water and the wine glasses were suspended upside down in the notches. At Sèvres, these monteiths were usually part of dessert services but were also sold separately. (See Waddesdon catalogue, p. 114)

Literature: Sir Geoffrey de Bellaigue, French Porcelain in the Collection of Her Majesty the Queen, 2009, Vol. II, pp. 582-585, no. 142; Svend Eriksen, The James A. de Rothschild Collection at Waddesdon Manor. Sèvres Porcelain, 1968, pp. 114-115, no. 39, p. 238, no. 82; Königliches Porzellan aus Frankreich, 1999, pp. 58-61, no. 16; David Peters, Sèvres Plates and Services of the 18th Century, 2005, Vol II, pp. 327-328 and 331-332, p. 431, Vol. IV, pp.933-4 no. 91-7, pp. 979-80, no. 92-19; David Peters et al, exh. cat. Versailles et les Tables Royales en Europe, Versailles 1994, ‘Les Services de porcelaines de Louis XV et Louis XVI’, pp. 115-6, and nos. 288-291, p. 176

Michele Beiny Inc. Director: Michele Beiny. 53 East 82nd Street, New York City, NY 10028, United States. T  +1 212 794 9357 – M   +1 917 319 7102 – F  +1 212 772 0119. By appointment