THE PROPERTY OF A LADY
LE SERVICE DE L'ARCHICHANCELIER
Grand Duchess Stephanie of Baden
painted 1806/1807 by François Gérard
(Private Collection, exhibited
Karlsruhe, Badisches Landesmuseum,
Stephanie Napoleon, Grossherzogin von Baden,
29 april - 30 July, 1989, cat. no. 13)
Gift of Napoléon Ier to Archchancellor Jean Jacques Régis to Combacérès, 1807
Acquired in France, circa 1947
Purchased by the present owner's father at the auction of the previous owner's estate, circa 1970
Dr. Rosemarie Stratmann-Döhler, "Zur Hochzeit von Stephanie de Beauharnais - Höfische Geschenke aus der kaiserlichen Porzellanmanufaktur Sèvres", Weltkunst, no. 1, January 1995, pp. 16-19
The following 18 lots are from a dessert service presented by Emperor Napoléon I to Jean Jacques Régis de Combacérès upon the occasion of the wedding of Stephanie de Beauharnais. The adopted daughter of the emperor, Stephanie was married on 7 April 1806 to Charles Frederick, Grand Duke of Baden. Napoleon presented gifts of Sèvres porcelain to those attending the wedding including Combacérès, his arch chancellor. This wedding was politically of great importance to Napoleon, who used members of his family to solidify his position in Europe through marriage into ruling families across Europe. The Grand Duke joined the Confederation of the Rhine in 1806. With the help of Napoleon, by 1810 had united the surrounding separately ruled margravates and ecclesiatical states into the state of Baden as it stood until 1945.
Jean Jacques Régis de Combacérès (1753-1824) served as second consul under Napoleon I and as archchancellor of the Empire. He is perhaps best remembered as the leader of the commission which drafted the Code Napoléon, put into use in 1804 and still the cornerstone of French jurisprudence. In 1808, he was made duke of Parma. He returned to political power in 1815 to serve as Minister of Justice during the Restoration until 1818.
The Sèvres records noting service entry into the magazin de vente on 29 July 1807 describe it as decorated on a purple ground with landscapes, fables and imperial palaces. The delivery records (fig. 2) itemize it as comprising 72 plates, 8 dolphin-footed compotes, 8 footed dishes, 2 footed bowls, two eagle-headed sugar-bowls, 2 baskets with snake handles, and 24 plates to be mounted (assietes à montées). 34 of the 72 plates are being offered as lots 101-117. 2 of the dolphin-footed compotes, four of the footed dishes, both of the footed bowls and 18 of the 24 plates, all of which are decorated with scattered insects, are being offered as lot 118.
This service is well-documented in the Sèvres archive and, although few painters' marks appear on the plates, careful study of the payment records for the service has made it possible to attribute most of the painted vues to the hands of Caron, Lebel, Robert and Swebach. Documentation also exists for those who applied the ground color, burnished the gilt decoration and inscribed the names of the scenes on the backs of the plates. Brief biographies of the major contributors follow:
Charles-Marie-Pierre Boitel was active as a gilder at Sèvres 1797-1822.
Christophe-Ferdinand Caron, fils was active as both a painter and a gilder at Sèvres 1792-1815. Although still young, he retired in 1815 due to failing eyesight.
Nicolas-Antoine Lebel was active at Sèvres as a landscape painter 1804-1845. A signed example of his work is being offered as lot 97.
Jean-François Robert was active at Sèvres as a landscape painter 1806-1834 and 1836-1843.
Jacques-François Swebach, also known as Fontaine or Swebach-Desfontaine, was active at Sèvres as a painter of landscapes and military scenes 1802-1813. He is recorded as having also worked on the service Encyclopédique and on the service particulier de l'Empereur.
It has also been possible to trace the print sources for many of the topographical scenes. They are based on engravings found in Voyages pittoresque de Naples et de Sicile by L'Abbé de Saint Non and Vues d'Italie by Charles Bourgeois, copies of which are to be found at Sèvres. See fig. 1 for the print source upon which the first plate in lot 108 is based.
The invaluable assistance of Mme. Tamara Préaud, archivist at the Sèvres factory, in researching this service and other examples of Sèvres porcelain offered in this sale is gratefully acknowledged.
Post Lot Text
Delivery order for the Service de l'archichancellier
(MNS Vbb2 for 17 Aout 1807)