Sèvres at the Wallace Collection, London

Sèvres-marronnièreAt the Wallace Collection, located a few streets north of Selfridges in London, there are fine displays of Old Master paintings, 18th-century French art, arms and armour and a treasure trove of Sèvres 18th-century porcelain.

The Wallace Collection is a national museum, but as these artworks are held and displayed in a majestic, London town house, the exhibits are enhanced by being placed within elegant, well-proportioned rooms.

In particular, the extensive world-renowned collection of French 18th-century Sèvres porcelain benefits from being displayed within these rich domestic interiors of a former private residence.

This porcelain is known as Sèvres as Sèvres, Hauts-de-Seine, France is where the royal factory was relocated to in 1756 and where it remains to this day. Although originally the factory had been founded and supported by King Louis XV in Vincennes in 1740 to produce china in direct competition with Meissen porcelain produced in Saxony.

Sèvres china is made from soft-paste porcelain which is extremely fragile in the kiln. Many of these pieces have been fired five or more times depending on the complexity of the glazing, the painted decoration and their final gilding.

sevres cup and saucer Micaud
Sèvres cup and saucer porcelain, 1767. Decorated with a rich frieze of roses, garlands and rosettes by Jacques-François Micaud. Acquired by 1834.

The displays include the expected tea wares as well also porcelain vases, candelabra, the odd inkstand and even an ice-cream cooler, but it was specifically the beautiful, delicate cups and saucers that I found most charming. Originally they would have been used for tea, coffee or chocolate and what a delightful treat to have sipped a thick sweet chocolate from one of these.

Sèvres porcelain cup and saucer, 1765, (height 8.3cm, diameter 15.3cm), with a rare and an unconventional shell-like decoration. A design that reflects the thirst for novelty which inspired much innovation in the decorative arts of 18th-century France. The shell-like pattern was probably painted by Méreaud le jeune.

Author: agnesashe

Artisan, blogger and passionate East Anglian working from home.

4 thoughts on “Sèvres at the Wallace Collection, London”

  1. These are just astonishingly exquisite. I also am always respectful of the work and skills needed to produce such work. Porcelain clay is notoriously hard to handle. I’d love to see these in person.

    1. They are amazing. I am an enthusiast for beautiful china, but these really, really are amazing pieces. If you’re in London it’s well worth a visit.

  2. I haven’t been to the Wallace Collection in such a long time. It’s a calm, peaceful place compared with the busyness of say the National Gallery (at least I hope it still is). Next time I visit, I’ll make sure I give these Sèvres wares my full attention. I’ve always tended to concentrate on their collections of paintings.

    1. It was definitely quieter than the big galleries especially as we arrived just after it opened, but quite quickly parties arrived for guided tours. I managed to stay ahead of the wave so as to speak to get some empty rooms and clear shots. Lots more info available about most of the Sèvres in folders dotted around, but me and my camera were already in the way by the time I had finished photographing these lovely blue pieces.

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