The center finely painted with a spray of flowers and berries, the border with three shaped oval panels of flowering vine edged in distinctive gilt scrollwork and floral garlands
1014 in. (26 cm.) diameter
Louis XV (1710-1774), château de Versailles, the delivery recorded 31 December 1754.
Acquired from Dragesco - Cramoisan, Paris, 2018.
Sale Room Notice
Please note that this plate was delivered to Louis XV (1710-1774) at the château de Versailles on 31 December 1754.
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Lot Essay

This plate belonged to the magnificent bleu céleste service made for Louis XV, King of France, for his personal use at the château de Versailles.

Commissioned in 1751, the service was delivered to the King in three stages, on 24 December 1753, 31 December 1754 and 31 December 1755. The service was remarkable for its complex, innovative new forms, its bold, newly-introduced turquoise ground color and its impressive size. Production began in 1753, the year after Louis XV had become a quarter shareholder in the factory, and the creation of the service marked considerable technical and artistic advances at Vincennes. The brilliant turquoise or bleu céleste ground colour, initially called ‘bleu Helot’ and ‘bleu ancien’ in the factory records, was well suited to the soft paste porcelain body and was to become one of the factory’s most successful ground colors. The color was probably invented especially for the service by the factory's chemist, Jean Hellot, who later described it as 'le bleu du roy ou bleu turquoise du service complet de sa Majesté trouvé en 1753 par moi'.

The King’s service extended well beyond the size of any earlier service produced by the factory and saw the introduction of many new dinner and dessert ware shapes. Many components of the service were especially designed by Jean-Claude Duplessis père, a goldsmith, sculptor and gilt-bronze worker, who was brought in to supervise the modeling workshops at Vincennes from 1748. He soon became the creative driving force behind many new models. In its original form, the service included plates, fruit-dishes of various different shapes, sugar-bowls, ice-cups, juice-pots, salts, mustard-pots, stew and soup-tureens, bottle-coolers, bowls, trays and baskets. Many of Duplessis’s detailed design drawings for these components are preserved in the archives at Sèvres.

In the years following the first three deliveries, the King placed several more orders for additional pieces via the marchand-mercier, Lazare Duvaux, with two of these supplements recorded in 1756 and 1757. Duvaux had arranged a public display in Paris of the first part of the service and was responsible for its delivery to the King at Versailles. In May 1757, Louis XV sold part of the service through Duvaux to Etienne-François de Choiseul, comte de Stainville, future duc de Choiseul-Stainville and protégé of the King’s mistress, Madame de Pompadour. The comte purchased 72 of the original 112 plates, 13 of the 30 fruit-dishes, and 12 of the 35 corbeilles, to form a dessert-service. A substantial number of dessert-dishes and plates, probably originally from the comte’s acquisition, are now in the collection of the Duke of Buccleuch at Boughton House in Northamptonshire.

The principle part of the service remained with Louis XV. Further supplements purchased in 1766, 1767, 1771 and 1773, suggest the service may have been moved to the château de Bellevue, former home of Madame de Pompadour. However, an inventory of Sèvres porcelain stored at the château de Petit Trianon dated 16 June 1778 records a large service with close parallels to the Louis XV service. Finally, in 1784 and 1787, the marchand François-Charles Bazin purchased bleu céleste service wares, which were most likely part of the Louis XV service. It can perhaps be inferred from the Bazin purchases that, by the 1780s, Louis XVI had disposed of the rest of the service. There are no apparent supplements in the Sales Registers after 1779.

The service is mentioned by the duc de Croÿ his Court journal entry of 4 February 1754, following a dinner at Versailles: Louis XV ‘nous occupa à déballer son beau service bleu, blanc et or, de Vincennes, qui l’on venait de renvoyer de Paris, où on l’avait étalé aux yeux des connaisseurs. C’était un des premiers chefs-d’œuvre de cette nouvelle manufacture de porcelaines qui prétendait surpasser et faire tomber celle de Saxe’.* Distinguished by its restrained flower painting, mottled, intense turquoise ground and gilded husk borders around the reserves, the Louis XV bleu céleste service clearly made a great impression on the Court at Versailles and on subsequent generations of noble collectors.

*Duc de Croÿ, Journal inédit du duc de Croÿ (1718-1784), I, pp. 230-1, entry for 4 February 1754. Louis XV ‘kept us busy unpacking his beautiful blue, white and gold service from Vincennes, which had just arrived from Paris, where it had been exhibited for the connoisseurs to admire. This is one of the first masterpieces of this new porcelain factory which hopes to surpass and topple that of Saxony’.

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