Dihl and Guérhard covered cup & stand, fine neo-classical gilt decoration on ‘tortoise shell’ ground, c.1795
Magnificent Dihl and Guérhard covered double-handled cup, cover & stand, the urn-shaped body with spreading foot, richly decorated with a wide band of classical gilding with panels of flowerheads, over a rich mottled chocolate ‘tortoiseshell’ ground, the rims & handles richly gilt.
total height 18cm
Condition: Crack from rim to near the waist of urn now stabilised, minor wear to gilding, replaced knop, hairline crack to saucer, small chip to rim of saucer. Gilt generally good with most wear to the lid, also some touch-ups evident there..
This magnificent covered cup was probably intended for consuming hot chocolate from, in the Continental manner. The gilding is typical of Dihl and Guérhard, and they specialised in recreating precious stones and materials such as this tortoiseshell look.
The firm was established in 1781, under the patronage of the duc d’Angoulême – even though he was only 5 at the time! This Royal Patronage was essential, as the Royal Decree of 1766 had given the monopoly of Gold & Colour decoration to porcelain to the Royal factory of Sèvres. However, any concerns with Royal Patrons were exempt! When the Ancien Regime was swept away in the Revolution a decade later, the firm engaged with the new wealth of the French Republic, producing a superb quality range of luxurious porcelain that rivalled the State–owned Sèvres factory.
Christophe Dihl was a German ceramics expert, and Antoine Guérhard was his French partner with the money. His wife Louise-Françoise-Madeleine was the brains who kept things running. When her husband died in 1793, she ran it alongside Dihl, and 4 years later they were married. She went on to out-live him, and the factory; it found it hard to survive in the age after Napoleon, and went out of business in 1828. Dihl died 1830, Louise in 1831.
No comparable example found.
ref.: V&A Museum coffee can & saucer with the same decoration, described as ‘moss agate’ ground, and ‘probably Dihl and Guérhard’: https://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O99626/cup-and-saucer-unknown/
The British Museum’s Franks Collection has a saucer with a mark, with the same decoration described as ‘tortoiseshell’ : https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/object/H_Franks-431
The Musée national de Céramique, Sèvres, has a footed bowl with this decoration (inv. 26278).