The present service was acquired by Napoleon I in July 1812 at a cost of 5890 livres, as documented in the entries of the Registre pour inscrire toutes les pièces peintes et décorées livrées au garde Magasin [Vu 1, p. 139 V, ligne 14]:
Dejeuner fond vert portrait de la famille Imperiale colorié etc :
4 Tasses en forme Jasmin anse en vermeille 700 (each) 2800
1 Theyere Asselin 1500
1 Pot a sucre Volute 1000
1 Pot au lait Grec 450
1 Boite 140
A sealed letter written by comte Philippe Paul de Ségur (1780-1873) and dated Rome May 30, 1855, attesting to the inheritance of the service by the Emperor's great niece accompanies this lot. In it, he states (in translation):
"I the undersigned, Chargé d'Affaires for His Majesty the Emperor Napoleon III, liege lord, and known as a representative of the duc de Cambacrès, tutor of Princes and Princesses Bonaparte, minor children of their majesties Prince Charles and Princess Zanaïde Bonaparte, having witnessed the division of effects which belonged to His Majesty the Emperor Napoleon I, declare that Madam the Comtesse of Campallo, born Princess Marie Bonaparte, obtained through the path of Fate objects of which a list follows:
1: A set of china with portraits of the Bonaparte family
2: A pair of socks
3: A white handkerchief
In witness whereof, I have signed and affixed the seal of my family's Arms -
Rome May 30, 1855
Cte de Ségur" [Philippe Paul, Comte de Ségur]
Marie Desiré Eugénie Josephine Philomène Bonaparte was one of twelve children born to Napoleon's nephew Charles Lucien Bonaparte (son of Napoleon's younger brother Lucien) and to his wife and first cousin Zanaïde Laetitia Julie Bonaparte (daughter of Napoleon's older brother Joseph). On 2 March 1851, Marie Bonaparte married Conde Paolo Campello della Spina. Their son, Conde Pompeo di Campello y Bonaparte, died in 1927. It seems logical that the present service was acquired by the noted New York antique dealers Symons Inc. at some point between 1927 and circa 1935. In an article written early in her career with the New York World-Telegram newspaper, the noted art critic Ellen Genauer illustrates the present service and describes it as being on display at Symons Inc. at their New York showroom on East 56th Street. Ms. Genauer started working for the New York newspaper in 1931 and by 1949 had been made head art critic for the paper. A copy of the article also accompanies this lot.
The portraits on this service were executed by two of the best 'miniature' painters at the factory, Etienne-Charles Le Guay (recorded at the factory 1771-81; 1783-85; 1813-40) and Marie-Victoire Jaquotot (recorded at the factory 1801-42).
Found on the service as it stands today are their portraits of:
Emperor Napoleon I, after Gérard, signed Victoire Jaquotot (teapot)
Empress Marie-Louise, after Isabey, signed Victoire Jaquotot (teapot)
Napoleon François Joseph Charles Bonaparte, the Emperor's oldest legitimate son, styled the King of Rome, unsigned but likely by Le Guay (sugar-bowl)
Caroline Bonaparte, the Emperor's youngest sister and wife of his general, Joachim Murat, signed Le Guay (sugar-bowl)
Maria Anna Elisa Bonaparte, the Emperor's oldest sister, titled S.A.S. la Gde. Desse. De Toscane, signed Le Guay (milk-jug)
Pauline Bonaparte, the Emperor's middle sister, titled S.A.S. la Pss©e Pauline, signed Le Guay d'après Gérard (cup)
Hortense de Beauharnais, the Emperor's step-daughter and later his sister-in-law by her marriage to his brother Louis, titled S.M. la Reine Hortense, signed Victoire Jaquotot (cup)
Princess Catherine Frederica Charlotte of Wrürttemberg, the emperor's sister-in-law by her marriage to his brother Jérôme, titled S.M. la Reine de Venphalie d'après Gérard, unsigned (cup)
Charles Thévenot fils aîné whose incised mark tt appears on many of the pieces in this service, is recorded at Sèvres as a repairer and burnisher 1787-1826.
For a cabaret of similar shapes dated 1808, see Tamara Préaud, et al, The Sèvres Porcelain Manufactory - Alexandre Brongniart and the Triumph of Art and Industry, 1800-1847, Exhibition Catalogue, Bard Graduate Center for Studies in the Decorative Arts, New York, 1997, cat. no. 134.