• Centuries of Style: Silver, Eu auction at Christies

    Sale 7800

    Centuries of Style: Silver, European Ceramics, Portrait Miniatures and Gold Boxes

    17 November 2009, London, King Street

  • Lot 153

    TWELVE SEVRES BLEU CELESTE ORNITHOLOGICAL PLATES (ASSIETTES A PALMES)

    CIRCA 1768, BLUE INTERLACED LS MARKS ENCLOSING DATE LETTER P, PAINTER'S MARK N FOR FRANCOIS-JOSEPH ALONCLE, CP FOR EITHER ANTONINE-JOSEPH CHAPPUIS OR ROSALIE CHAPPUIS, LOUIS-DENIS ARMAND (L'AINE) AND ETIENNE EVANS, EACH TITLED IN BLACK SCRIPT, VARIOUS INCISED MARKS

    Price Realised  

    Estimate

    TWELVE SEVRES BLEU CELESTE ORNITHOLOGICAL PLATES (ASSIETTES A PALMES)
    CIRCA 1768, BLUE INTERLACED LS MARKS ENCLOSING DATE LETTER P, PAINTER'S MARK N FOR FRANCOIS-JOSEPH ALONCLE, CP FOR EITHER ANTONINE-JOSEPH CHAPPUIS OR ROSALIE CHAPPUIS, LOUIS-DENIS ARMAND (L'AINE) AND ETIENNE EVANS, EACH TITLED IN BLACK SCRIPT, VARIOUS INCISED MARKS
    Painted with studies of birds in landscape vignettes, named to the reverse, within broad bleu céleste borders painted with three oval cartouches of flowers edged with gilt foliage and joined by gilt garlands of flowers, within petal-shaped gilt line rims (some slight flaking to gilding and surface scratching to wells)
    9¾ in. (24.7 cm.) wide (12)


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    It is highly likely that these plates form part of the bleu céleste service received by Louis-Charles-Auguste Le Tonnelier, baron de Breteuil on 16th April 1768. The baron de Breteuil held an important position in Louis XV's Secret du Roi, the King's secret reporting network of diplomats. He remained an influential figure in France into the second half of the 18th century and became ministre et sécretaire d'Etat de la Maison du Roi in 1783 and was the Ambassador to Sweden, The Netherlands, Austria and the Two Sicilies. The baron purchased additional pieces for the service in 1771, although none of these pieces recorded in the Sèvres archives are assiettes à palmes.

    It is possible that these plates then entered the collection of Count A.D. Sheremetev in the 19th century where they formed part of a large selection of bleu céleste service-wares. They were sold in or around 1906 in London by the dealer Asher Wertheimer. David Peters records The Connoisseur article on 'The Chérémèteff Sèvres Porcelain', Vol. XVI, no. LX, 8.1906, pp. 243-248, which notes the 'panels richly painted in enamel colours with birds of brilliant plumage, and foliage with flowers...turquoise blue ground enriched with golden festoons and garlands of miniature flowers...', see David Peters, Sèvres Plates and Services of the 18th Century (Hertfordshire, 2005), Vol. II, pp. 385-386. Several pieces likely to be from the 1906 sale have appeared at auction recently, including six plates from The Property of Sir John Plumb F.B.A., sold in these Rooms on 2 November 1998, lots 257, 258 & 259.

    The ornithological decoration and gilding pattern is almost identical to that on the service purchased in 1767 by either Count Kyrill Grigorevich Razoumovski or his brother Count Alexis, both Marshalls of Russia from the banquiers Bouffet et Dangiard. Count Alexis married Elisabeth, Empress of Russia and both brothers enjoyed extensive power and status. All but five pieces of this Russian service, which is dated 1766-67, are on display at Waddesdon Manor, Buckinghamshire. It is also similar to the service dated 1773 and delivered to Madame Lair, a Parisian marchand-mercier, see the set of six plates from this service sold from the Collections of Hanns and Elisabeth Weinberg and the Antique Porcelain Company of New York sold by Sotheby's New York on 10 & 11 November 2006, lot 398. For an illustration of a plate from the current service see C.C. Dauterman, The Wrightsman Collection (Connecticut, 1970), Vol. 4, fig. 104, which has the same incised marks as several plates in this lot.

    The bird designs are based on the engravings published by George Edwards, A Natural History of Uncommon Birds, which was also published in France as Histoire Naturelle de Divers Oiseaux in 1745 and 1748. The services ordered by the Third Duke of Richmond and Lennox in 1765-66, the Razoumovsky service and the present service are all decorated with Edwards' designs by Aloncle and Chappuis.

    Special Notice

    No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VAT at 15% will be added to the buyer's premium which is invoiced on a VAT inclusive basis.


    Provenance

    Most probably acquired by James, 2nd Marquess of Abercorn (1811-1885), later created 1st Duke of Abercorn in 1868, and thence by descent.