Jean-Charles Develly, active at Sèvres from 1813 to 1847.
Antoine-Gabriel Boullemier, active at Sèvres from 1803 to 1842.
Déjeuners of this exceptional quality were generally produced for the use of Louis Philippe and his consort as gifts to visiting sovereigns or to members of their court. It is intriguing to speculate how or why such an important service should have been sold to a visiting Englishman.
The present lot was painted by one of the most proficient artists at Sèvres and each piece bears the AB mark for the gilder Antoine-Gabriel Boullemier, the leading gilder of the day. Long lost to scholars of Sèvres porcelain (but frequently cited in the literature) the déjeuner is clearly documented in the factory archives along with preparatory studies for the subjects on the various elements which make it up.
Jean-Charles Develly (1783-1849), was one of the most remarkable talents employed at Sèvres in the first half of the 19th Century. Fortunately, Alexandre Brogniart, the Director of the factory, recognised both his talents and the necessity of keeping him employed even when demand was low. The result of this was the Service des Arts Industriels of the 1820's which was produced without any particular client in mind, but was eventually presented to Prince Metternich by King Louis Philippe in 1834. Substantial elements of this service were sold in these Rooms on 14th June 1994, lots 117-131. The same process may well have applied with the present lot. It was produced between 1836 and 1838, but was only sold in 1841. The care devoted to its preparation by Develly is borne out by the number of preparatory drawings for the service still preserved in the Sèvres archives.
The same meticulous care was taken by Develly in the execution of this déjeuner, as he made numerous versions of preparatory drawings for the Oriental scenes, some of which are illustrated (also see the preparatory drawing for the plateau entitled 'Caravanne de la Mekke' sold by Ader Picard Tajan in Paris on 9th November 1990, lot 1020). The subject matter 'la vie publique et privée d'un Arabe' is redolent of the mid-19th Century passion for the Oriental. The view of Mecca presented on the plateau would appear to be a brilliant figment of Develly's imagination, since no infidel had by that date been allowed anywhere near the Holy City. The year 1838 also witnessed the production of a Vase Arabe. This whole Orientalist climate was no doubt inspired by the French interventionist policy with regard to the North African seaboard during this period.
The forms used for this déjeuner, as their individual names would imply, were designed by Alexandre Evariste Fragonard, the dominant personality in the creation of shapes at the factory throughout the period of 1820-1840.
Fortunately, the majority of the pieces in this déjeuner have retained their original labels from the Sèvres manufacture. The sums inscribed on these correspond to the prices for which they were in fact sold. Rarely do works of art of the 1830's survive both with concrete evidence from factory records of their selling price and the original price labels still affixed.