The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
Seaux 'à glace'
  • Four Ice-cream Coolers
  • Seaux 'à glace'
  • Manufacture de Sèvres
  • Charles-Nicolas Dodin (1734 - 1803), Painter, (flowers)
    Raux (1753 - 1779), Painter, (bas-reliefs and trophy)
    Etienne-Henry Le Guay, The Elder (1719 - 1799), Gilder
    Jean-Pierre Boulanger (1722 - 1785), Gilder
    Charles Buteux (1719 - 1782), Painter, (monogram)
  • Sèvres, France
  • 1778 - 1779 (ice-cream cooler and cover)
  • Soft-paste porcelain, painted and gilded, hard-paste porcelain cameos and gilt-copper
  • C476, Object size: 23.2 x 26 cm
    C477, Object size: 25.2 x 25.7 cm
    C478, Object size: 23.7 x 26.2 cm
    C479, Object size: 24 x 26 cm
  • Factory mark: Interlaced Ls enclosing 'aa' the date letter for 1778
    Gilder's mark: 'B' for Jean-Pierre Boulanger op. 1754-85
    Incised mark: 'Bono Ier' for the répareur Etienne-Henry Bono op. 1754-81
    'D'
    Factory mark: Interlaced Ls enclosing 'AA' the date letter for 1778
    Painter's mark: 'K' for Dodin
    Painter's mark: A circle of dots for Raux
    Gilder's mark: 'LG', in grey, for Le Guay
    Inscription: 'No 1' and 'XX'
    Factory mark: Interlaced Ls enclosing 'aa' the date letter for 1778
    Painter's mark: 'h' for Jacques-François-Louis de Laroche
    Factory mark: Interlaced Ls enclosing 'BB' the date letter for 1779
    Painter's mark: 'FB' for Barrat op. 1769-91, 1795-6
  • C476-9
  • Porphyry Court
Commentary
History
Images & Media
  • 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 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.

    Four of ten ice-cream coolers are now at the Wallace Collection.
    Gilded icicles and fountain handles wittily reflect their use, but the design is also highly functional: they originally had liners for the ice-cream (a semi-liquid sorbet drunk from ice-cream cups) which sat on a bed of crushed ice and salt in the outer bowl. The deep-walled cover also contained crushed ice for further insulation.

    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 kept the six pieces which are in the Wallace Collection today (see also the two wine coolers C474-5) and sold the remainder back to Alexander II. Today, nearly 700 pieces of the service remain in the Hermitage.

    The gilt-bronze mounts were added in the nineteenth century in England. With their prominent French royal emblems, they promoted the mistaken belief that Louis XV had presented Catherine II with the service. They typify not only the delight of English collectors in objects with royal association, but also their passion for embellishing dinner wares to render them more acceptable as ornamental works of art.