The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
Goblet 'litron' et soucoupe of the first size
  • Cup and Saucer
  • Goblet 'litron' et soucoupe of the first size
  • Manufacture de Sèvres
  • Etienne-Henry Le Guay, The Elder (1719 - 1799), Gilder
  • Sèvres, France
  • c. 1778 - 1780
  • Soft-paste porcelain, painted and gilded
  • Cup, Height: 7.6 cm
    Saucer, Diameter: 14.8 cm
  • Factory mark: Interlaced Ls Painted in greyish blue
    Gilder's mark: 'LG' for Entienne-Henry Le Guay Painted in greyish blue
    Incised mark: '6'
    Incised mark: '40'
  • C350
  • Study
Commentary
History
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • The European cup for drinking tea evolved gradually during the first half of the eighteenth century, adapted from the Chinese porcelain tea bowls in which tea was originally drunk when it became fashionable in Europe at the end of the seventeenth century. By 1752, the Vincennes manufactory (the early name for Sèvres) was making a wide range of tea wares, many models of the early 1750s remaining in production for the rest of the century. Most cups and saucers could be used for tea, coffee or chocolate, often being sold with matching teapots or, more rarely, coffee pots.
    From the 1760s there was a fashion for collecting differently decorated examples. Examples of this shape of cup and saucer, the 'gobelet litron et soucoupe', which were elaborately decorated or were made in miniature size were probably made for display rather than use. It is a measure of the success of Sèvres that domestic items were considered works of art as soon as they left the factory.
    This is an example of the cups and saucers that were made to commemorate a person or an event, an early precursor of our souvenir mugs today. Decorated with an overglaze blue 'beau bleu' ground, it is painted with medallions in grisaille. The cup has a portrait of Benjamin Franklin and the saucer shows a trophy of an Native-American head-dress alongside attributes of France and America. Franklin was the American Envoy to the Court of France during the American War of Independence, arriving in 1776. Louis XVI finally recognised the American cause in 1777 and received Franklin at Versailles in 1778; official recognition of the man already popularly regarded as an apostle of liberty led to the rapid spread of his image. Sèvres produced fourteen cups and saucers decorated with his portrait, small busts, and a biscuit portrait medallion which was copied throughout Europe and made his face ‘as well known as that of the moon’.
    The trophy on the saucer marks the Franco-American alliance of 1778.