Louis Philippe and Versailles
From 6th October 2018 to 4th Feburary 2019, two royal Sèvres tea sets from the Chitra Collection were on display at the Palace of Versailles as part of a major exhibition devoted to Louis Philippe I. The exhibition shed light on Louis Philippe’s decision to convert the former royal residence of Versailles into a museum dedicated to the history of France.
‘The new King of the French became intent on transforming this monarchist building into a national monument dedicated “to all the glories of France”. He imagined it as a museum open to all with an educational purpose, where paintings could be consulted like a picture book. His aim, truly political, was to reconcile the deeply divided French people but more especially to ensure that his reign left its mark in the country’s history. The exhibition will retrace Louis Philippe’s tastes and the king’s direct involvement in the work culminating in the inauguration of the Historic Galleries on 10 juin 1837.’ (Palace of Versailles)
This tea set (right), which was made by the Sèvres porcelain factory, was purchased by Louis-Philippe in 1846 for his wife Queen Marie-Amélie. The tray and saucers are beautifully decorated with views of the Château d’Eu in Normandy, where the royal couple spent many summers and of which they were very fond. The cameo-style portraits depict royal figures who previously lived at the Château, while the teapot features a portrait of the King himself.
The second set is entitled the Déjeuner Des Chasses Diverses, and was delivered to Queen Marie-Amélie on the verbal order of the King on May 21st 1840. Each piece in the set is decorated with either one or two hunting scenes. Christian iconography is used throughout the service and the cups and milk jug bear motifs including representations of three of the four Christian Evangelists; the Lion of St. Mark, the Ox of St. Luke, and the Angel of St. John. This subject matter would have appealed greatly to Louis-Philippe and Marie-Amélie in particular, who was well known for her piety and charitable work.
Click on this link to open a PDF exhibition brochure.