The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
Seaux 'à bouteille'
  • Two Wine-bottle Coolers
  • Seaux 'à bouteille'
  • Manufacture de Sèvres
  • Louis-Simon Boizot (1743 - 1809), Designer
    Charles-Nicolas Dodin (1734 - 1803), Painter, (trophies, C474)
    Jean-Pierre Boulanger (1722 - 1785), Gilder, (C474)
    Possibly Michel-Gabriel Commelin (1746 - 1802), Painter, (flowers, C474)
    Possibly Jacques-François-Louis de Laroche (1740 - 1800), Painter, (C474)
    Possibly Claude-Gilles-Guillaume Buteux (born 1763), Painter, (trophy, C475)
    Possibly Vincent Taillandier (1736 - 1790), Painter, (flowers, C475)
  • Sèvres, France
  • 1778 - 1779
  • Soft-paste porcelain, painted and gilded, hard-paste porcelain cameos and gilt-copper
  • C474, Object size: 19.6 x 25 cm
    C475, Object size: 20 x 24.3 cm
  • Factory mark: Interlaced Ls enclosing 'AA' the date letter for 1778
    Painter's mark: 'K' for Charles-Nicolas Dodin
    Gilder's mark: 'B' for Jean-Pierre Boulanger
    Factory mark: Interlaced Ls enclosing 'bb' the date letter for 1779
    Painter's mark: 'VB' underlined, probably for Claude-Gilles-Guillaume Buteux
    Incised mark: probably 'gn' for the répareur Charles Godin
  • C474-5
  • Study
Commentary
History
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • From 1776-9, the manufactory worked on their hitherto most challenging commission, a service for 60 place settings, which encompassed 797 pieces and was ordered by Catherine II of Russia. Reflecting the Empress's personal taste, it was the first service made at Sèvres in the newly fashionable neoclassical style and thus required the creation of entirely new shapes and moulds. It was to become one of the most expensive services ever produced in a European factory. The total cost of over 330 000 livres was not paid until 1792, closely averting the manufactory’s bankruptcy.
    The plates alone were redesigned eight times and 3,000 pieces were produced to ensure that the ones required were of sufficient quality. The service was divided into three sections: a dinner and dessert service, a tea and coffee service, and a biscuit centrepiece of 91 figures, which featured a bust of Minerva – representing Catherine – surrounded by the Muses.

    The dinner and dessert service included eight wine-bottle coolers, two of which are now at the Wallace Collection. The urn-shaped bucket has handles formed by caryatid figures, a band of leaves, lines of pearl beading, and elaborate cameo heads which were produced separately and cut from hard-paste porcelain. On the front, they would originally have flanked Catherine's monogram, which is now concealed by a later additional cameo.
    Both pieces are decorated with a turquoise-blue (bleu céleste) ground colour, which was the most expensive colour at the time, and specifically requested by the Empress. The decoration also includes painted military tophies in grisaille, garlands of flowers, and generous gilding.

    The service would have been used by Catherine for state functions, and when not in use perhaps displayed on a table. Replacement pieces were ordered from the Imperial porcelain factory during the reigns of Nicholas I (1825-1855) and Alexander III (1881-1894).
    Part of the service, looted during a fire in the Hermitage in 1837, arrived in London and was acquired by Lord Lonsdale. In 1856 he appears to have sold most of his pieces to the 4th Marquess of Hertford, who kept for himself the six pieces in the Wallace Collection today (see the four ice-cream coolers C476-9), and sold the remainder back to Alexander II. Today, nearly 700 pieces remain in the Hermitage.
    In the nineteenth century, gilt-bronze mounts (a stand, collar and cover) were added, probably in England.