Tea set

ARTIST / MAKER: Decambos (gilder)
Jean-Jacques Pierre (painter)
Sèvres porcelain factory (manufacturer)
DATE: ca. 1781 (made)
PLACE: France (made)
MATERIALS AND TECHNIQUES: Porcelain, with painted enamel and gilt decoration

In 1756, the French porcelain manufactory Vincennes was transferred to larger quarters at Sèvres, a town on the other side of Paris. It was bought shortly afterwards by Louis XV at the request of his mistress, Madame de Pompadour. Sèvres quickly became the most important French porcelain manufactory, excelling in the production of soft-paste porcelain which lent itself to the decorative effects of enamel painting and gilding, with the manufactory being considered responsible for starting the trend of using porcelain for dinner services, instead of silverwares.

Small tea services, or déjeuners, were first produced at Vincennes in 1753. A personal table ware used in the intimacy of private rooms, they were considered something of a novelty when first produced. They vary greatly in shape and size, with styles named after the design of their trays, this being the Déjeuner Duplessis after Jean-Claude Duplessis (ca.1695-1774), the Italian goldsmith and artistic director at Vincennes. Responsible for sculptural models at the factory, the undulating sinuous lines of the tray are characteristic of his work. The cornflower as a decorative motif was adopted by many Paris manufactories at the end of the 18th century, owing to its postion as a favourite flower of Queen Marie Antionette. Sèvres produced a cornflower design variation that bore her name in 1782, proving instantly popular with aristocratic ladies who wanted to own a service honouring the Queen. This set was painted by Jean-Jacques Pierre le jeune, who entered the factory in 1763 age 22, and specialised in flower painting, particularly producing detailed cornflowers, roses, daisies and pansies.