Details
The borders painted in imitation of lacquer, exquisitely gilt and enriched in platinum with Chinoiserie scenes, the center of the tray and the sides of the cups each with a garland of exotic flowers and edged in gilt in imitation of cloisonné enamel
1318 in. (33.3 cm.) wide, the tray
Provenance
From the service delivered on May 6, 1791 to Charles-Louis Huquet de Sémonville, extraordinary envoy to Genoa from July 14, 1791 to October 10, 1792.
Acquired from Dragesco - Cramoisan, Paris, 2018.
Literature
D. Peters, Sèvres Plates and Services of the 18th Century, Little Berkhamsted, 2005, vol. IV, pp. 925-927, no. 91-4.
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Lot Essay

Although a concentrated dark blue ground which the eye reads as black was developed at Sèvres in the early 1780s, it was not until 6 May 1791 that the first of a series of services recorded in the factory records as "fond noir Chinois en or de couleurs et platine fleurs mail" was delivered to "A.M. de Semonville Ambassadeur" (see D. Peters, Sèvres Plates and Services of the 18th Century, Little Berkhamsted, 2005, vol. IV, pp. 925-927, no. 91-4). Subsequent services include that sold to Monsieur Milmes (sic) in 1792 (Peters, op. cit., no. 92-4) and a third large group of wares and sets of plates to the dealer Citoyen Empaytaz & Cie (Peters, op. cit., vol. V no. 94-11).

Interest in this style of decoration may have been spurred on by the production of some important suites of lacquer furniture delivered to the royal family at the palaces of Versailles, Saint-Cloud, Compiègne and Bellevue in the 1780s. The use of platinum in place of silver was introduced at this time, the main advantage being that the platinum did not tarnish.

See Selma Schwartz, "Chinoiserie Decoration on Black-ground Sèvres Porcelain", Schwartz Porcelain - The Lacquer Craze and its Impact on European Porcelain, Exhibition Catalogue, Museum für Lackkunst and Schloss Favorite near Rastatt, 2003, vol. III, pp. 98-107 for an analysis of the factory's production - the different permutations in which black ground gilt and platinum Chinoiserie decoration appears on teawares, service wares, and vases at Sèvres, a discussion of the likely sources for the decoration, and the 18th century European taste for Japanese lacquer that prompted its production.

See also C.C. Dauterman, The Wrightsman Collection, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1970, vol. IV, pp. 223-324, no. 91 A&B; M. Brunet and T. Préaud, Sèvres, Des origines à nos jours, Paris, 1979, p. 224, nos. 300 and 301; S. Eriksen and G. de Bellaigue, Sèvres Porcelain, London, 1987, p. 352; and A. Sassoon, Vincennes and Sèvres Porcelain, Catalogue of the Collection of the J. Paul Getty Museum, pp. 154, 156, notes 37 and 38 for a detailed discussion of extant pieces with similar decoration created by Sèvres in imitation of Chinese and Japanese lacquer.

A Chinois noir service formerly in the collection of Prince Nicolay Borisovich Yusupov (1750-1831) is retained in the Hermitage. See Nina Birioukova and Natalia Kazakevitch, La porcelaine de Sèvres du XVIII siècle, St Petersburg, 2005, pp. 189-193, nos. 946-954, where they state that the pieces were most probably part of the service fond noir, figures et fabriques chinoises imitant le laque en or jaune, or vert et platine, sold in 1794 to the merchant Empaytaz. See also Kira Butler, 'Sévres for the Imperial Court', Apollo, June 1975, p. 457. Most of these pieces were decorated by Etienne-Charles Le Guay, Jean-Jacques Dieu, Bulidon, Commelin and Vincent the younger.

Compare the example of the other octagonal tray from this service, sold in the Tallec Collection, Tajan, Paris, 8-9 November 1990, lot 850.

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