This silver-gilt teapot is decorated on each side with finely chased medallions depicting the Autel de l’Amitié, or Altar of Friendship, a composition originally created by artist François Boucher (1703-1770) representing a mythological subject and an allegory of friendship. The work relates to Jeanne-Antionette Poisson, or the Madame de Pompadour’s cult of friendship, a movement promoted after 1754 following her separation as mistress from the King, Louis XV. A popular theme throughout the century, a young maiden stands surrounded by three cupids and crowns a heart with a wreath on an altar draped with garlands. Such Rococo motifs characterised Boucher’s work with similar plaques usually produced for gold snuff boxes, rather than for use in silverware. The lid continues the decorative theme with a cast relief decoration of a cupid in a pastoral landscape and the base is inscribed with the phrase ‘The King lives forever’ in Latin, reinforcing the relationship between Louis and the Duchess-Marquise of Pompadour.
Although little is known about François Joubert, he attained the level of master Goldsmith in 1749, producing in both the Rococo style and more restrained Louis XVI. A skilled craftsman, Joubert enjoyed the patronage of Madame de Pompadour and Marie Antoinette.