Sèvres. Large soft paste porcelain litron cup and its saucer with arabesque decoration. Dated 1788
Soft paste Sèvres porcelain litron cup and its saucer, second grandeur dated 1788 with polychrome and gilt decoration of arabesques. The saucer’s decoration is painted with a blue lapis medallion and embellished with gilt dotted waves; the interior is painted with a patio where diverse fruits have been placed. Around this scene, are two birds on the look out within a network of interlacing and foliage. The inner rim and the gobelet have the same decoration with urns.
Royal Manufacture of Sèvres, soft paste porcelain mark with two intertwined Ls, letter-date LL for 1788.
Painter’s mark « L. » for Denis Levé, flower and bird motif painter, active from 1754 to 1793 and from 1795 to 1805.
Marked 40 in the hollow under the gobelet and the saucer.
Height of the gobelet : 7 cm (2.7 in.) – Diameter of saucer: 13.3 cm (5.2 in.)
Etiquette bearing the sale n° 2138.
Minor not thorough hairline crack on the gobelet’s interior. Some wear on the gilt.
This decoration, described in the Sèvres archives as « arabesques » is more commonly known in the decorative arts under the name « décor Salembier » by the name of the ornamentalist Henri Salembier (1753-1820) who published from 1777 diverse decoration works, which were an enormous success. He was also the leader of the creation of the Louis XVI style. His compositions, decorated with arabesques, trophies, garlands, and draperies are of an exceptional elegance and are an inspiration for Sèvres and Paris porcelain manufacturers.
Some decors are known as « arabesques and blue zones » in the Sèvres archives. This probably corresponds to the description of the gobelet presented here by Expertissim.
Denis Levé was born in Saint Germain in 1731 and became active in Vincennes in 1754. He was a flower and ornaments painter and left the manufacture in 1805. In 1755, he married Marie Thevenet, the daughter of Louis-Jean Thevenet, the famous painter of the Vincennes-Sèvres manufacture. In the 1770s, he was one of best-paid painters of the factory. He participated notably in the creation of the Laiterie de Rambouillet service (Rambouillet Dairy Service) in 1788, the same year as our gobelet and previously in Catherine II of Russia’s service (Christie’s NYC, October 24th, 2012, lot 210.) In 1789, he decorated pieces from the service of the Count Artois, the brother of Louis XVI.
At the end of 1780s, he specialized in arabesque decorations. He was a member of the Saint Luke's Academy in 1792.
For a milk jar, particularly similar to this litron gobelet, with a decoration of arabesques with birds, patio with fruits and blue zones, painted by Denis Levé, and also dated 1788, consult Piasa 10 June 2009, lot 184, sold for 3300 Euros.
Some important museums and collections hold pieces by Denis Levé : The Fontainebleau Castle (a salad bowl from the camaïeu carmin service of Louis XV and Louis XVI, inventory n° F.1987.10.26.)
The Louvre museum (a plate from the Service of Attributes and gooseberries of Louis XVI, TH1158),
The Gardiner Museum in Toronto (a tea service with decoration of arabesques against a yellow ground.)
The Metropolitan Museum in NYC (for porcelain plaques of a bonheur du jour for the apartments of Madame Barry in Versailles).
The British Museum
Waddesdon Manor (James of Rothschild)
The Adrien-dubouché Museum in Limoges etc.
Sèvres porcelain, also painted by Denis Levé is presented in the collections of Her Majesty the Queen of England.
The arabesque service of Louis XVI
The king Louis XVI ordered in 1782 an « arabesque service » also called « Masson service « from Sèvres manufacture. It was studied for a long time by David Peters in his publication of Sèvres plates and services of the 18th century, Little Berkhamsted, 2005, Vol. V, 95-6, pages 1085 to 1095. The service was never delivered or finished (its production stopped around 1787) due to revolutionary events. It was finally delivered by order of the Comity of Salut Public to Karl-August Freiherr von Hardenberg, Minister of State from Friedrich Wilhelm of Prussia in 1795, by way of thanks for his assistance during the signature of the Basle Treaty of 5th of April 1795.
-Patricia Capozzi-Roff, Le décor d'arabesques sur la porcelaine de Sèvres à la fin du XVIIIe siècle, 2002.
-Aileen Dawson, French Porcelain: A Catalogue of the British Museum Collection, 2005. -Eriksen, Svend, The James A. de Rothschild Collection at Waddesdon Manor – Sèvres Porcelain, 1968, p. 330.
-Préaud and d’Albis, La porcelaine de Vincennes, 1991, p. 210.
-Geoffrey de Bellaigue, French porcelain in the collection of her Majesty the Queen, p. 1177.
For other litron gobelets with rare arabesque decorations (and photos of their marks), consult the sales catalogue from the Charles-Otto Zieseniss collection.
(Christie's, Paris, 6 December 2001)
Condition report :