In 1825, Alexandre Brogniart, then director of the Sèvres factory, proposed the sevice des Départements in celebration of the coronation of Charles X. The present plate may be a trial for its decoration. Please visit www.christies.com for a detailed discussion of the present plate as it relates to this royal commission.
In 1825, Alexandre Brogniart, then director of the Sèvres factory, proposed the sevice des Départements in celebration of the coronation of Charles X. The first item noted on a list of projects submitted to the vicomte de La Rochfoucauld in his position as directeur des Beaux Arts under the new king, the proposed service included 86 plates, each painted in the center with a site considered of utmost importance in the respective region. The border, as designed by Jean-Charles-François Leloy, was to include portraits of sons of the region, names of other noteworthy citizens and references to local agricultural and cultural interest, all between or within rich swags of local flora.
At Sèvres is a watercolor dated 1824 depicting a plate in the realized service, a Nankin yellow used for the border ground color in place of the reddish-brown found on the present plate, the colors chosen for the border ornament correspondingly variant. Given these differences and the fact that it is also dated 1824, the present plate is most likely a sample made in preparation for the full manufacture of the service.
The new king showed little interest in this painted encyclodepia of France and production moved slowly. With Louis-Philppe's arrival on the throne three years later, things did not improve. After the king's abdication, this porcelain document was delivered to the Assemblée Nationale on 2 September 1848. Returned 20 July 1850 in favor of a less elaborately decorated set, the service languished at Sèvres for four years until delivered to the ministry of foreign affairs in 1852.
The border of the present plate includes includes cameo portraits of the military strategist Jean Charles, Chevalier de Folard (1669-1752), Petrarch's muse Laure de Noves, and bishop, man of letters and orator Esprit Flechier (1632-1710) alternate with medallions inscribed with the names of the painter (Claude Joseph) Vernet (1714-1789) and L'Abbé Poulle, of the Protestant turned Catholic mathematician (Joseph) Saurin (1659-1737) and the Cistercian abbot and crusader l'Abbé Arnaud, of whom all are associated with the Vaucluse and of whom many were born or lived in Avignon.
See Tamara Préaud, The Sèvres Porcelain Manufactory, Alexandre Brongniart and the Triumph of Art and Industry, 1800-1847, The Bard Graduate Center Exhibition Catalogue, 17 October 1997 - 1 February 1998, fig. 63 for a watercolor on paper and an extensive discussion of the service des Départements including the words of Brongniart who states, 'It is to be desired that such a service appear on the King's table, and I dare add that this is a possibility judging from a few words uttered by his Majesty when he saw it'. Also compare an example at the Metropolitan Museum, Purchase, Mrs. Sid R. Bass Gift, in honor of Mrs. Charles Wrightsman, 2002 (2002.57), sold anonymously, Christie's, New York, 10 October 2001, lot 80.
See also Samuel Wittwer, Rafinesse & Eleganz: Königliche Porzellane des frühen 19.Jahrhunderts aus der Twinight Collection New York, Munich, 2007, cat. no. 106 a&b for plates in this preeminent collection depicting the Département des Bouches-du-Rhône and the Département Côte d'Or.