Like most pieces in porcelain used at table, the form of this tray was based on the great contemporary silver services. This circular piece has a foliate rim, a short, central foot, and is decorated with reserves on a dark blue ground enriched with motifs in gold. The reserves, painted by Charles-Éloi Asselin, depict mythological scenes copied or inspired by contemporary engravings and drawings. Sometimes mistaken with a fruit-bowl, the tray may have been used as a support for other pieces or small objects.
This piece was part of the famous service that Louis XVI ordered from the Sèvres Royal Factory and is now almost completely in the English royal collections. As it was intended for use in his private chambers in Versailles, Louis XVI was closely involved in its production, which began in 1783 and was only interrupted by his execution in 1792. This was probably one of the last pieces to be produced, as it was included in the last delivery to Versailles immediately after the king’s death.
Robert Napier Collection; John Cockshut Collection. Acquired by Calouste Gulbenkian, through Agnew, at the sale of the Cockshut Collection, Christie’s, London, 11 March 1913 (lot 82).
H. 37 cm; Diam. 22.7 cm
Geoffrey de Bellaigue, Sèvres Porcelain in the Collection of Her Majesty The Queen. The Louis XVI Service. Cambridge: 1986, pp. 54, 251–2.
Geoffrey de Bellaigue, 'Le Service de Louis XVI', in Versailles les tables royals en Europe, exhibition catalogue. Versailles: Châteaux de Versailles et de Trianon, 1993, pp. 293–8.
Chefs-d’oeuvre du musée Gulbenkian de Lisbonne. Meubles et objets royaux du XVIIIe siècle français, exhibition catalogue. Versailles: Châteaux de Versailles et de Trianon, 2000, p. 82, no. 23.
Calouste Gulbenkian Museum. Lisbon: Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, 2001, p. 152, cat. 128.
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