FOR THE EMPEROR’S USE AT THE PALACE OF LAEKEN
Hard-paste porcelain cup of litron shape and its saucer, ornate with several ornaments painted in brown on a beautiful pink ground, in the Antiquity style with chimeras, musical horns and palm leaves after drawings by Asselin (see the last picture).
The cup is ornate at the center with a rare black ground lozenge containing a grisaille head of a Gorgon, surrounded by two friezes of polychrome garlands of grapes. Gilt rims with a few restorations at the gilding.
Good condition, a few wear.
Sèvres porcelain national factory, an XI (23/09/1802 to 22/09/1803).
Marked with the red stamp “Sèvres //” and with incised marks at the reverse.
Height : 6,5 cm – Diameter : 13 cm.
“Napoléon Ier & la Manufacture de Sèvres. L’art de la porcelaine au service de l’Empire”, cabaret n°2 p. 308.
For us and for the authors of the previous book, this cup and saucer are part of the 16 pieces cabaret bought by the Emperor on 7 messidor of the Year XIII (June 26th 1805), delivered for Their Majesties’ use at the Imperial palace of Laeken (Belgium).
As we do not have found the cabarets n°5 and 13, our cup and saucer could also come from one of these two sets. But the black color of the lozenge is so rare at Sèvres that we think it could substitute the pink ground in the brief cabaret description : “fond noir guirlandes de raisins”. The n°5 is described “fond noir grappes de raisins”, but our cup has garlands and not grapes. The n°13 is described “fond rose miniature”.
Several drawings of the Sèvres Archives made by Charles-Eloi Asselin (1743-1804) could correspond with these 3 cabarets, we have illustrated here the most close one (inv. 2011.3.1117 © Sèvres, Sèvres-Cité de la céramique, © Direction des musées de France, 2013).
The castle of Laeken, located in the municipality of Brussels, capital of the French department of Dyle under the Empire, became an imperial residence in April 1804.
The Emperor, wishing to have a foot-to-earth during his visits to the “united departments of Belgium,” came to restore and refurnish the castle on his arrival in the summer of 1804 and it is in this context that Sèvres delivered this coffee set the following year.
Napoleon stayed there occasionally until 1810 and then he put the castle available to Joséphine since he took back the Elysée Palace where she stayed until 1812.
But although the first Empress imagined plans for the park of Laeken, especially to accommodate her plants, she never stayed there, preferring Malmaison.
These cup and saucer are the only witness to our knowledge of this imperial cabaret to the faithful Consulate decor style that characterized the period between Revolution and Empire at Sèvres, making it a particularly rare and interesting relic, especially for history of Belgium.