IMPERIAL GIFT TO THE DUCHESS OF BASSANO
& EMPRESS MARIE-LOUISE
Extremely rare hard-paste porcelain cup “tasse à thé étrusque Denon à pied”, ornate with white falcons which figure the god Horus, surrounded by polychrome Egyptian ornaments as papyriform columns, on a platinum ground (which is one of the earliest and rarest example at Sèvres, the best one is the pair of vases fuseau of the Louvre Museum, 1814, former collection of the Duchess of Berry).
This central frieze is surrounded at the top by a small frieze ornate with white stars on a sky blue ground, and at the bottom by red gadroons lined by gilt rims. The handle is gilt and ornate by gilt patterns on a green ground. The interior is entirely gilt.
A tiny crack on the base but the cup was exceptionally well preserved, particularly for the fresh painting and the gilt inside.
Sèvres porcelain imperial factory, 1813.
Fully marked, painter Deutsch (1803-1817, unmarked).
Ø Height: 4, 8 cm – Length: 8, 6 cm.
One of the six cups of an Egyptian déjeuner, offered as a New Year gift by Empress Marie-Louise, wife of Napoléon I, to her Lady-in-waiting the Duchess of Bassano, born Marie-Madeleine Léjéas-Carpentier (1780-1827?), on 29th December 1813 at the Tuileries Palace (the déjeuner left the Sèvres warehouse on 24th December).
This unique cabaret is the sixth of the seven Egyptian cabarets made under the Empire, and the only with this decoration called “ornements égyptiens coloriés”, and without a blue ground. The first one was delivered to Napoleon I who offered it to the tsar Alexandre I in 1808 (Koskowo Museum), the second one to Josephine in 1808 (Malmaison), the third one for the Tuileries in 1810 at the occasion of the wedding with Marie-Louise (Louvre Museum), the fourth one to Napoléon for Josephine in 1811 (Fondation Napoléon), the fifth one to the Duchess of Montebello in 1812 (Twinight Collection), the sixth one to the Duchess of Bassano (partially lost) in 1813 and the sevenone to the Countess of Lucay in 1813 (lent to Malmaison for an exhibition at the beginning of the XXth century).
Our cabaret was composed of 10 pieces: 6 cups and saucers (90 francs each), 1 tea pot (200 francs), 1 milk jug (125 francs), 1 sugar bowl (150 francs) and 1 fruit bowl (200 francs), all in its original box (140 francs), for a total cost of 1.355 francs. This cup is the only piece of this service known as such, one other cup unidentified is preserved in the United States (see Reference).
[CAT. EXPO. 7], p. 70 et 73.
Archives, Cité de la Céramique (Sèvres), VV1, 11v°-25 (« déjeuner ornements égyptiens coloriés ») et Vbb 5,1 (« Porcelaines déposées au palais des Tuileries et données en présents par LL. MM. à l’occasion du Jour de l’An , le 29 décembre 1813).
[TRUMAN], p. 44, fig. 39, for a similar ornamentation of the plate “à vue de Philoé” (inv. C.124/24-1979 of the V&A Museum): we find the similar Horus eagles and the papyriform columns (Egyptian service offered by Louis XVIII to the Duke of Wellington in 1818).
One other cup and its saucer identified by us is currently in the collection of the National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution, Kenneth E. Behring center (Cat. N° P1069a-b, bequest of Reverend Alfred Duane Pell).
Recently, a sugar bowl from the fourth cabaret was sold at Drouot, Piasa, 30th May 2012, lot 162, for 45 149 €.