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
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • From 1776-9, Sèvres 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. It was the first service made in the newly fashionable neo-classical style and thus required the creation of entirely new shapes and moulds.

    The spectacular service consisted of 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. In total, over 3,000 pieces were produced to ensure that the ones required were of sufficient quality. It was to become one of the most expensive services ever made at a European factory with a total cost of over 330 000 livres which was not paid until 1792, closely averting Sèvres' bankruptcy.

    The dinner and dessert service included eight wine-bottle coolers, two of which are now at the Wallace Collection. The Empress was closely involved in the design process and specifically requested the turquoise blue 'bleu céleste' ground, the most expensive colour at the time, while the caryatid handles, trophies and mythological scenes reflect her passion for the antique. Some of the cameo-heads are in relief and were cut separately in hard-paste porcelain.

    Part of the service was looted during a fire in the Hermitage in 1837 and subsequently came onto the British art market. The pieces were bought by Lord Lonsdale who later sold the majority to the 4th Marquess of Hertford. Hertford in turn only kept the six pieces which are in the Wallace Collection today (see also the four ice-cream coolers C476-8) and sold the remainder back to Alexander II. Today, nearly 700 pieces of the service remain in the Hermitage.