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Vive La France!

Bonjour! French Antiques at Moorabool, Geelong

Bonjour…. in celebration of today’s French significance, we have a nice array of French items for you to browse, Fresh to Stock at Moorabool.

French ‘close-plated’ tankard (the French version of Old Sheffield Plate) with Revolutionary engraving, dated 1793

This interesting Revolutionary relic celebrates 1793: the year the Revolution ‘crossed the line’, executing the King & Queen, and purging the Ancien-Regime from France. The Cannon and cannonballs show the militant direction the revolution took, as 1793 was also the year France declared war on pretty well every European nation. Below is an inscription, ‘a ca ira’ – It’ll be OK, or as the Australian slang goes, ‘No worries!’

A ca ira…. It’ll be OK
A ca ira…. It’ll be OK

This is the chorus of a popular French song, ‘Ca Ira’. Ironically, the music is slightly older than the revolution, said to be a favourite of Marie Antoinette who would play it on her harpsichord. The words were put to it around 1790, and came to include a reference to Marie – calling her ‘the Austrian Slave’ ….

It was said to be the great Benjamin Franklin, while in France at the time as representative of the fledgling United States, who inspired the chorus. He had successfully led the revolution to free the people of America from tyranny – inspirational for the French seeking something similar. When asked for an opinion on France’s revolution, he would reply in broken French “Ça ira, ça ira” (“It’ll be fine, it’ll be fine”).

It was a ‘working song’ for the preparations for the first Fête de la Fédération, held on the 14th July 1790, being the one year anniversary of the storming of Bastille – and still celebrated 232 years later…..

Ca Ira’ is repeated after every verse: the verses were elaborated on and changed as the revolution progressed; an earlier version goes:

“An armed people will always take care of themselves.
We’ll know right from wrong,
The citizen will support the Good.

Ah ! It’ll be fine, It’ll be fine, It’ll be fine
When the aristocrat shall protest,
The good citizen will laugh in his face,
Without troubling his soul,
And will always be the stronger

Ah! It’ll be fine, It’ll be fine, It’ll be fine…”

By the end of the revolution, as the blood of the nobles flowed, the words used were:

”aristocrats to the lamp-post
Ah! It’ll be fine, It’ll be fine, It’ll be fine
the aristocrats, we’ll hang them!

If we don’t hang them
We’ll break them
If we don’t break them
We’ll burn them…..

We shall have no more nobles nor priests
Ah! It’ll be fine, It’ll be fine, It’ll be fine
Equality will reign everywhere
The Austrian slave shall follow him
Ah! It’ll be fine, It’ll be fine, It’ll be fine
And their infernal clique
Shall go to hell
Ah! It’ll be fine, It’ll be fine, It’ll be fine….”

1793 was the year ‘The Terror’ began. After Louis XVI and Marie Antionette lost their heads, the purge of the ancien regiem gathered pace as more and more privileged aristocrats came under suspicion of not being loyal. Heading the purge was Georges Jacques Danton. As head of the ‘Committee of Public Safety’, he was able to remove all opposition, using that French favourite, the guillotine. Until one day, he himself met the same fate for not being radical enough! The ‘character jug’ below is French, of the Revolutionary period – and looks just like him. Read More to follow our attribution of this character to the feared Georges Danton.

Georges Jacques Danton? head jug, c. 1795 - Moorabool Antiques, Australia

Often mis-labelled a ‘Toby Jug’, this is an early version of a comical jug that becomes popular in the latter 19th century, sometimes identified as ‘Puck’. We believe this head jug is a distinctive character, and as it belongs to the period of the French Revolution, his identity must be found in that timespan. His appearance matches that of Georges Jacques Danton (17591794), an important public figure of the late 18th century in France, and the perfect candidate for a slightly humorous head mug like this. 

Read more about the Danton Jug here >>

The ‘French Room’ at Moorabool Antiques

Moorabool Antiques, Geelong - French Room
Moorabool Antiques, Geelong – French Room
Jean-Baptiste Perronneau pastel portrait 1751 at Moorabool Antiques, Geelong, Australia
Jean-Baptiste Perronneau pastel portrait, signed & dated 1751

In the upstairs centre of our Geelong premises we have constructed a ‘French Salon’. The walls are the basis, being a series of rare surviving early 19th century wallpaper panels. They were never used – they still have the trim marks along the edges, usually cut-off when installed.
The fabrics you see are all rather special – Aubusson weavings, including large floor carpet, wall panels, large & small upholstery panels, curtain pelmets, and even a pair of shield-shape fire screens…. all unused, purchased in France on the eve of WW1, shipped out, and left in the boxes until now. In other words, brand-new Antique fabrics, ready for the keenest of French decorators…. we’re hoping they will sell as a complete group, otherwise there will be a split-up into groups. Email if this sounds interesting.
There’s also a series of rather special French pieces, some already online, with more to be added shortly.

Note the portrait in the centre: this is signed & dated pastel, a portrait of Jeanne-Marie- Malles, aged 18, as ‘Dianna the Huntress’. It’s by the pastel master, Jean Baptiste Perronneau (1716-83), regarded by leading scholar in the field, Neil Jeffares, as one of the two ‘best pastel portraitists‘ of the 18th Century (alongside M. de La Tour 1704–1788).

See this exciting freshly identified piece here >

French Furniture

There’s a strong French Connection with Australia: we could well have been a French colony…..
This interesting map shows just the top left of Australia,

As a footnote, I can’t resist posting a pair of rare hand coloured French ‘Australiana’ lithographs. They reflect the French interest in Australia – just days after the first British colonists arrived at Botany Bay in 1788, the French appeared, having travelled along the southern coast and then arriving right at the spot the British had chosen for their new colony. Coincidence? Not quite – Louis XVI was very interested in the idea of a colony in the South Seas, to compete with the British, and had instructed Lapérouse to report on the British actions on the Great Southern Land.

Note ‘An VII’ – Year 7 …. the Revolutionary fresh start to date years began in 1791, making this map 1798.
Nouvelle Holland, on the 1792 map – depicting Lapérouse’s exploration, up to the moment he sailed direct to ‘Port Jackson’ and encountered the fledgling British colony in 1788. He left his dispatches and charts – luckily – as after leaving the coast, he was never seen again. No outward-plot of his voyage is shown….

Of course, the Revolution soon took hold back in France – but science & exploration still carried on. In 1785, Jean François de Galaup, comte de Lapérouse was put in charge of a mission to the Pacific. The voyage of Lapérouse took a keen interest in the Great Southern Land, made keener by the colonising actions of their main competition, the British. They had arrived on the 18th January, after 252 days sailing from Britain. Lapérouse had been exploring for several years, but in one of those serendipity occurrences history throws up, arrived at the same point as the British just 6 days later! They stayed for six weeks, and then sailed off never to be seen again….

Baudin's Map of South Australia, note the names!
Baudin’s Map of South Australia, note the names!

Nicolas Baudin was the next Frenchman to explore the South Pacific. He was selected by Napoleon in 1798 to explore the southern coast of Australia, or ‘New Holland’ as it was known. While the right-hand portion was the British colony of New South Wales, there was so much more promising land as-yet unclaimed. The tension between the French & the English is illustrated by the events at ‘Encounter Bay’, now in South Australia: Mathew Flinders was completing the first-ever complete navigation of Australia when he stumbled across Baudin’s ship heading the other direction… with the same intent! They cautiously approached, uncertain if they were meant to be enemies or allies, as when Bourdain had left France, they were at war. However, in the name of science, they met peacefully and proceeded on their way. While Baudin died on the way back to France, the charts made it and were published, including all the French names he had given to the features he mapped – ‘Napoleon’s Land’ features ‘Gulf de Napoleon’ next to ‘Gulf de Josephine’, for example. Unfortunately, Mathew Flinders had already mapped & named the same areas, giving them good British names like ‘Spencer Gulf’, names which were officially published a little later, and which remain to today.

Hobart, during the stop-over of the Astrolabe, 1827
Hobart 1821
Hobart, during the stop-over of the Astrolabe, 1827

The fine French views of Hobart were published in 1833, the result of yet another French expedition to the region: confusingly, in a ship named in honour of the lost Lapérouse expedition: another Astrolabe, under Dumont D’Urville. He was instructed by the re-instated French monarch, Louis-Phillipe, to head south & claim the South Pole for France!

He left France on his first voyage in 1826, and was away for three years in total, visiting Hobart in 1827 to re-supply, when the sketches that were used for these lithographs were made. His voyage was published in ‘Voyage de la corvette “l’Astrolabe’, 1833, from which these come.

He was also responsible for solving the mystery of the disappearance of Lapérouse and his Astrolabe – which he did, discovering relics of the wreck on Vanikoro, in the Solomon Islands.

So Australia has a fair share of French History to celebrate!

Vive la France, tout le monde!

French Fresh stock for Bastille Day….

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Some Stunning Sèvres

Sèvres lotus-moulded dish, compotier rond, flower sprays, dated 1764

There’s a splendid pair of Sèvres dishes fresh to Moorabool.

Sèvres Porcelain, 1764
Sèvres Porcelain, 1764

This shape is a compotier rond, and was a component of the large services, used alongside other shaped serving dishes in the centre of the table. A setting for a dozen might have two compotier rond, while the larger services, such as the massive Service Camaïeu Carmen de Fontainebleau (used by the Royal Family) had several dozen of this elegant dishes available.  

Sevres 1764. Moorabool Antiques, Australia
Sevres 1764. Moorabool Antiques, Australia

The moulded pattern allows the beauty of the moulded porcelain to show in a way the more painted patterns cannot. 

The elegant lotus flower design is borrowed from Chinese Export origins, where lotus-moulded dishes were a common sight in the early 18th century. 

Sevres 1764. Moorabool Antiques, Australia
Sevres 1764. Moorabool Antiques, Australia

One of the dishes simply has the crossed ‘L’s’ mark, enclosing the date letter ‘L’ for 1764. The other example is the same, but also has a painter’s mark: ‘L’. This allows us to put a name on the painter of the flowers: Louis-Françoise Lécot . He appears in the factory wages lists in 1763, after possible earlier unpaid work as a pupil from about 1761. He worked as a flower painter in 1764 – but is then absent from any reference the following year, giving him the working period 1763-4…. a perfect match for this dish. He does re-appear, after spending 6 years somewhere else, when he is documented as a hard-paste artist in 1771 (as opposed to the soft-paste that was the only body available at Sèvres in the 1760’s). His work is then remarkable and distinct, specialising in dramatic imitation lacquer pieces, with gilt or platinum/silver chinoiseries painted in the highest Rococo manner, or the exotic ‘Etruscan’ grotesques inspired by discoveries in Italy during the 1770’s.
These styles were the latest fashion for the French aristocrats, and bring to mind the lavish productions of the high-end Paris firms competing with Sèvres for the top-end customers. As Sèvres was the King’s factory, he enforced a monopoly on the industry, where colours & gilt decoration was exclusive to his own factory; the loop-hole found by eager factory owners was to attract an aristocratic patron to protect them – Clignancourt was under the protection of the Comet de Provenance (the future Louis XVIII) and Rue Thiroux was under the protection of the Queen, Marie Antoinette. Both produced very high quality hard-paste products in the 1770’s, and would have eagerly employed a Sèvres-trained artist such as Lécot. Locré & Russinger, otherwise known as La Courtille, was another such factory, minus the aristocratic protection; they ran afoul of the King’s Sèvres monopoly, with 2,000 pieces of illegal coloured & gilt porcelain being seized in 1780 – indicating they were producing a large amount of high quality hard-paste wares. Despite this set-back, they continued to make superbly decorated pieces as if nothing had happened….

Could Lécot have spent his time in some such Paris porcelain manufacture, learning the technique for decorating the hard-paste porcelain body? While he was away, Sèvres purchased the recipe for pâte tendre (hard paste) from Pierre-Antoine Hannong, the youngest son of Paul-Antoine Hannong, whose father had established the faience works in Strasbourg in the early 18th century . As often happens with generations, Paul-Antoine made a success of the firm when he introduced the first hard-paste porcelain production in France, in the mid-1750’s. He died in 1769, and his son, Pierre-Antoine became head. Two years later, he sold the secret of Hard-Paste to the Sèvres factory. They took a while, but once the right ingredients were sourced, Hard-Paste was made (alongside Soft-Paste) from the mid 1770’s onward.

Lécot decorated garniture, 1775-6 Christies 2000
A Lécot decorated Sèvres garniture, 1775-6 – sold at Christies NY in 2000 for $1.1 million US….

When he returned in 1771, Lécot was able to paint on the new Hard-Paste body. He worked on some truly impressive hard-paste orders, and all major collections seem to feature his dramatic 1780’s Chinoiseries. This early example of his Soft-Paste work from his brief appearance at Sèvres in 1763-4 is a lovely rarity.

ref. Rosalind Savill, The Wallace Collection Catalogue of Sèvres Porcelain, London, 1988, Vol. III, pp. 1043-4 for more on Leçot.

Jean Bouchet, active at Sèvres 1757-93

Sèvres coffee can & saucer, scenic panels by Jean Bouchet, dated 1781
Sèvres cup & saucer, scenic panels by Jean Bouchet, dated 1781

This lovely cup and saucer are a ‘recently married’ pair. While the saucer has been in the Rosenberg Reference Collection in Geelong for a while as a fine example of Sèvres, the cup is a recent acquisition; remarkably, it is the same artist at work at Sèvres in the same year, 1781. While there is a difference in the details, the overall harmony makes them a delightful rarity. And of course, they have a story to tell…..

The artist is Jean Bouchet. He used a pictorial mark, a ‘tree’. While in the factory records – and the subsequent publications that used this as their source for what the marks looked like – he carefully drew a realistic tree with roots, trunk and layered foliage, while in practice he simplified it into something that looks like a furry lollypop…. This would have taken much less time & concentration!

The cup and the saucer are both 1781, dated with the same ‘DD’ in a distinct cursive script, the hand-writing of Jean Bouchet; there is also his distinct mark, a tree symbol. He is recorded as active at Sèvres 1763-93, a painter of human figures, landscapes, and flowers. He is very well represented in major collections, with his small landscapes being very appealing to original customers and present-day connoisseurs alike.

Jean Chauvaux jeune‘s ‘bead’ borders

The cup has another painter’s mark also – ‘IN’, the mark of Jean Chauvaux jeune, a gilder active 1765-1802. As there is not a great deal of gilding on the cup, we would suggest he was responsible for the unusual ‘bead necklace’ painting of the borders, where they are given highlights & shadows to make them appear rounded.

The incised workman’s marks 36 & 48a are both recorded by Saville in the Wallace Collection’s catalogue, vol III pp1130&1133. ’36’ is recorded 1770-90’s, while ’48a’ is recorded 1777-92. There are no names associated with these individuals.

In the British Royal Collection, both ’36’ and ’48a’ are present in several assemblages, including a set of very similar cups & saucers from the same period.

Sevres Cup & Saucer By Bouchet 1781
Sevres Cup & a Saucer by Jean Bouchet, 1781. Moorabool Antiques, Geelong

See our cup & saucer here >>

A complete déjeuner by Jean Bouchet, in the V&A Museum, London

It’s rare to see a complete group of porcelain from this era still together. This set in the Victoria & Albert Museum, South Kensington, is a fascinating rarity to study. It was bequeathed to the museum in 2015, and leading expert Rosalind Savill has identified it as one of four déjeuners bought by Christian IV, Duke of Zweibrücken, on the 14th June 1775. This was just 3 days after the event of the decade in France, the coronation of Louis XVI which the Duke naturally attended. Their cost was 840 livres, the equivalent of tens-of-thousands in today’s currency…. an expensive souvenir!

Marks correspond to the piece above. Note no date letters, and only a single artist’s mark. See this at the V&A Museum here >>
1777 Sevres Plate by Michel - explainer -©
1777 Sevres Plate by Ambroise Michel- see below. ©

The marks on Sèvres should follow the rules and be very logical, but in practice they can be quite random. The system was there to provide the company with a way of tracking the various production steps and those responsible for the work: in a perfect scenario, the répareur, or workman who puts it all together, incised his particular mark, and both the artist and the gilder would include their mark. Then the factory mark, the crossed ‘L’s’ for Louis were painted, and inside them the code for the year it was decorated.

As you can see in the dejéuner set examples above, this isn’t always the case: of the nine components of the existing set, just a single example has a painter’s mark, here the ‘tree’ of Jean Bouchet, and none have a year mark! It is only the monogram found on the tray, along with the factory records recording Bouchard’s work on the commission, and the solid provenance that allow this remarkable set to be dated. This helps explain the number of non-conforming Sèvres items we come across, which have no date code or artist’s mark. They were quite probably part of a set where only a few items were marked.

Reference:  Savill, Rosalind: A Sèvres Porcelain Tea Service in the Victoria and Albert Museum with Surprising Credentials, French Porcelain Society Journal, Vol. II, 2005, pp. 39-46.

Of course, fraud is always a concern, and later-decorated pieces can often be non-conforming – but usually, a date code is part of the deception, with the first years ‘A B C’ for 1754, 55 & 56 being the favourite – the trouble is, the style of decoration & object type was often not yet invented at that date, a dead giveaway!

Our Sèvres Stock

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Fresh! Variety & Value….

Welcome to our first Fresh Stock for October 2022.
Today, we have a great variety to offer, from Furniture to Children’s Plates, from the useful to the ‘whimsical’.
Over the next few weeks, there will be a large number of fresh items uploaded, so keep an eye on our ‘Latest’ gallery.


Natural History

There’s a number of fresh pieces of ‘Natural History’ – including dinosaur parts under $50 (terrific gifts!) , minerals, and the amazing ‘Zebra Stone’, unique to a small area in the Northern Territory.

Furniture Wax

We stock ‘Gilly’s’ furniture polish.
This is an Australian made wax, produced in Western Australia, and offers a number of different products for different situations.

‘Cream’ is the product that gives a fine finish to Antique timber. It is a whitish paste, and our stock has a lemon scent, nice & fresh. After application with a rag, it can be buffed after a few minutes, resulting in a layer of wax with a remarkable lustre: it really brings a piece to life.


‘Restoring Polish’ is the most-used in our business, being the best for antique pieces that have a few scuffs & scratches.
It fills any scratches and makes them disappear, giving a uniform appearance.
The ‘Dark’ option is perfect for any dark finishes, the ‘Clear’ for everything else.

‘Cabinet Maker’s Wax’ is the product that gives a finish to raw wood.
We use it on pieces that have been very neglected, and need a serious refresh to their surface. The ‘Dark’ option is terrific on early dark oak pieces, making any raw or faded patches merge with original patination. The ‘Clear’ will not alter the colour, but will provide a good ‘feed’ to any raw wood.

Did you know….. the finishing wax also works on lacquer & tolewares? We used it on the black toleware tray in today’s ‘Fresh Stock’, which started out quite dull & streaky – and came up beautifully.

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The Ultimate Irony? Danton lampooned in pottery.

Danton's Last Words banner
Danton's Head?
Danton’s Head?

Often mis-labelled a ‘Toby Jug’, this is an early version of a comical jug that becomes popular in the latter 19th century, sometimes identified as ‘Puck’. We believe this head jug is a distinctive character, and as it belongs to the period of the French Revolution, his identity must be found in that timespan. His appearance matches that of Georges Jacques Danton (17591794), an important public figure of the late 18th century in France, and the perfect candidate for a slightly humorous head mug like this. 

Contemporary French depictions of Denton give you a good idea of his appearance:

Danton was President of the Committee of Public Safety, a part of the Revolutionary Government whose purpose was to protect it’s seat of power. As such, he was able to achieve dictatorial power for the committee; however, he soon found himself in trouble as the whole scheme got away from him. He be came noted for his corruption, and mocked by the general population. The infamous ‘Reign of Terror’ was fatal for him; beginning in 1793, preemptive executions of anyone suspected of being an enemy of the government took place, directed by the sinister Robespierre. Danton became a moderate, disgusted by the slaughter, and tried to calm things down. However, this very action led to his arrest and trial on April 3rd, 1794.

Hauled before the Revolutionary Tribunal with several other political moderates, he put up such a fight that it was feared he would sway the tribunal with his rhetoric. However, the decision had already been made. The acused were denied the right to have witnesses appear on their behalf, and then two days later the verdict was passed in the absence of the accused, who had been removed from the courtroom to prevent unrest among the trial’s observers. Their execution was scheduled for the same day.

Danton's Execution 1794
Danton’s Execution, with his head fulfilling his last wish, 1794

Dragged to the guillotine with several others, he was executed.

“I leave it all in a frightful welter,” he said;

“not a man of them has an idea of government.

Robespierre will follow me; he is dragged down by me. Ah, better be a poor fisherman than meddle with the government of men!” 

The reference to a poor fisherman’ was probably a reference to Saint Peter, as Danton had reconciled to Catholicism. His last words to the crowd were, “My only regret is that I am going before that rat Robespierre.” 

Danton’s true last words, however, were addressed to his executioner:

“Don’t forget to show my head to the people – it’s well worth seeing” !

Danton’s Last Words

Events went as Danton foresaw. The committees presently came to quarrel with the intense opinions of Robespierre. Just three months after Danton’s execution, The Reign of Terror was ended when Robespierre was himself executed. His assent to the execution of Danton had deprived him of the single great force that might have supported him against the Revolutionary committee.

This remarkable head mug dates to this period of political upheaval. He wears the red, white & blue around his neck, in the high collared fashion of the time.

How ironic that his last words were lived out in clay, with an enterprising potter making a mug of his head, for all to see and remember the remarkable Danton, the moderate who tried, and failed to tame the Revolution.

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A Fresh Discovery – 1751 Pastel by Perronneau, finest portraitist of his day.

Regarded by the leading expert Neil Jeffares as one of the two ‘best pastel portraitists’ of the 18th century, Jean-Baptiste Perronneau (1716-1783) is rarely seen outside collections. We were very excited to find a previously unrecorded portrait in Melbourne recently.

Close-up of Jeanne-Marie Mallès, aged 18.

It had an inscription on the back which gave us enough clues to find the original sitter, and we were delighted to discover the signature in the top right corner:

Pernooeau’s signature & the date 1751, signed in lead.

There was a modern label to the back covering, with a few details – probably copied from the previous covering. From this we can identify her: Jeanne-Marie Mallès, later Mme Tobie Clarke (1733–1821).

 Jeanne-Marie Mallès was from a seafaring family, her father being a Captain in the East Indies Company. However, he died in 1744; Jean-Marie was fatherless when this portrait was done in 1751, and it was 7 years later she was married to Toby Clarke (1733–1821), merchant of Nantes. They had several children, and a daughter, Marie, married François-Claude de Karuel de Merey, capitaine d’infanterie, who died in 1804 – the year Napoleon crowned himself Emperor – probably no coincidence, with the war with England and Spain raging.

Correspondence with Mr Jeffares has resulted in the authentication of the signature, making it a ‘signature piece’, and it is now added to the online ‘catalogue resonné’ of Perronneau, listing of every example authenticated, part of the amazing record freely accessible on Mr Jeffares site, .
You’ll find it as part of the following document:

An interesting note in Jeffares’ comments is that he sometimes dropped – or added – an ‘n’ to his name. Our example is the shortened version, Perroneau.
There are also several other examples of his sitters ‘as Dianna’ , obviously an interesting option to choose when having your portrait done. How fascinating, this beautiful young lady who had lost her father aged 11, had this portrait done showing her as the strong Goddess of the Hunt in 1751, and only married 7 years later. You can see her character in the twinkle of her eye..

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Stunning Sèvres discovery, by Antoine-Joseph Chappuis (l’âiné), 1765

Sevres socketed cup & saucer with birds by Chappuis, 1765-15584



The Royal French porcelain manufactory at Sèvres was well patronized by the French court, and the pieces they created were meant to be the most flamboyant and impressive luxuries imaginable. This pink ground cup & saucer certainly qualifies.

Sevres socketed cup & saucer with birds by Chappuis, 1765-0
Sevres socketed cup & saucer with birds by Chappuis, 1765
Sevres socketed cup & saucer with birds by Chappuis, 1765-15598
Sevres socketed cup & saucer with birds by Chappuis, 1765

Important Sèvres cup and saucer, goblet et soucoup enfoncé, premiere grandeur , superbly painted by Antoine-Joseph Chappuis (aîné), with four panels of birds in landscapes, framed within rich tooled gold borders against a ground of blue and gold oeil-de-perdrix on a pink ground.

Crossed ‘L’s’ mark,

also date letter ‘M’ for 1765,

‘cp’ for artist Antoine-Joseph Chappuis (aîné),

incised cup repairer’s mark ‘00’ & ‘ae’

Madame de Pompadour was probably responsible for the inception of this unusual form of saucer, with its deep well ensuring the cup cannot be easily upset. The form appears in 1753, and as she was failing in health with tuberculosis, a socketed saucer negated the risk of spilling her drink due to a shaking hand or coughing fit. Factory records show that all examples of this type made were purchased by her until her death in 1764. The next recorded sale was in October 1765 to Princess Louise-Marie of France, youngest daughter of Louis XV. Its present whereabouts are unrecorded, and this example has a high possibility of being the goblet et soucoup enfoncé, premiere grandeur in question.


Sevres socketed cup & saucer with birds by Chappuis, 1765
Sevres socketed cup & saucer with birds by Chappuis, 1765

They were one-off products, and examples vary wildly in decoration. An example in the Getty Museum is thought to have belonged to Madame de Pompadour. It has a saucer with an unknown repairer’s mark (00), the same as on this cup. The gilding appears on numerous examples from this period, often with small inconsistencies such as can be seen in the above detail, where the gold doesn’t quite cover the ground.

The artist Chappuis ‘l’aîne’ was a long-term employee at Sèvres, being apprenticed as a répareur (maker) in 1756, became a painter in 1761, became the deputy ‘head of kilns’ in 1782 , and  in charge of the kilns for the final year of his life in 1787.

His wonderfully vivid birds are distinct amongst the Sèvres artists repertoire, and a piece such as this important  goblet et soucoup enfoncé, premiere grandeur show Sèvres at its best.


Provenance: The Antique Porcelain Company, NY


Similar gilding can  seen on a can & saucer in the British Museum, #110 in Dawson’s book ‘French Porcelain in the British Museum’, also #112.

An écoulle, cover & stand with the same decoration was sold as part of the Giuseppe Rossi collection, Sothebys London 1999 lot 518

A coffee can & saucer with similar ground, also with birds by  Antoine-Joseph Chappuis (l’âiné), 1766,   at the Victorian & Albert Museum, South Kensington

Similar items at auction:

A cup & saucer with the same ground, very similar birds by another artist, Aloncle, 1765, at Christies London 2015.

A wonderful teapot with the same unknown repairer’s mark (00), also painted by the same artist, Antoine-Joseph Chappuis (l’âiné), 1765, sold by Bonhams London in 2014.

A cup & saucer of the same form, birds by Aloncle, 1763, sold at Christies NY 

Sevres socketed cup & saucer with birds by Chappuis, 1765-15579
Sevres socketed cup & saucer with birds by Chappuis, 1765
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A Yellow Sévres new discovery, 1788

A colourful Sévres coffee can & saucer has a fascinating tale to tell, and is an as-yet unpublished clue that helps to identify a under-appreciated Sévres artist.



The cup & saucer  – a ‘gobelet litron’, third size – is a stunning yellow colour, with a finely painted blue continuous landscape in blue that seems to float on the thick yellow ground. There is a border of dainty colourful scrolling foliage, and in the centre of the saucer, a pinwheel device almost like a

target. It’s fully marked to both pieces, and being unusual – and knowing the way Sévres was so often copied and outside-decorated – a full examination was required to ensure it was authentic. This brought to light some problems, and shows once again the ever-changing field of ceramics research: never believe absolutely what you read in print!


A quick look in the authoritative book on the subject, ‘SÉVRES PORCELAIN’ by Eriksen 1987 (p153 #46) apparently attributes the mark ‘ f B ‘ to a certain Francois-Marie Barrat, active 1769-91, a date that conforms nicely with the date 1788. However, the next entry is more accurate for the mark: #47, a ‘f B’ combination. Eriksen attributes this to Francois-Marie Barrat as an alternate mark, but states ‘….the compilers have never seen mark 47 which may be an incorrect rendering of Barrat’s usual mark.’


I can now demonstrate that this is wrong; there is another artist with a surname starting with B, Bouillat, who came to Sevres in 1758, and remained active there until 1810, a remarkable example of the dedication workmen felt to the factory. His mark was a capital Y, so he is not the artist in question; rather, his marriage in 1768 to a female artist at the factory, Genevieve-Louis Thevenet – (herself the daughter of a Factory artist Louis-Jean Thevenet!) resulted in a son and a daughter, who both became painters at Sévres. The son, or fil in French, began work at the factory in 1786, and left to join the army in 1793. During that time this mark appears on a series of pieces, including this cup & saucer. The lower-case f is obviously a stand-in for fil , and the B for Bouillat. The mark ‘fB’ should now be identified as Francois Bouillat, painter of flowers and landscapes.

On this basis, his work can be found on a service in the Queens Collection, and also a cup & saucer in the Hermitage, Russia. This example is particularly interesting as it has the same fluted colourful pinwheel device to the centre as our cup & saucer. It also bears small panels of the same vivid yellow, overpainted with brown scrolling foliage & urns, and is dated 1789.




There is a second painters mark, set in next to the footrim, consisting of ‘…’   . This mark is that of Jean-Baptiste Tandart, a prolific painter from 1754-1803. He is recorded as a ‘painter of flowers’ , which along with the secondary position of the mark indicates he was responsible for the garlands of flowers in the border.

The landscape decoration is known as ‘paysage circulaire’ (circular landscape) and in this form is extremely rare on Sévres, with the scene in blue painted directly on a brilliant yellow ground. This was technically a feat in itself, and perhaps was not used much due to the issues we see on this cup & saucer: the blue tends to bead into clumps, and the thick yellow enamels shift in the heat of the enamel firings. While the yellow pigment had been a very early Sévres development, the tone seen here appears in the early 1780’s and is not repeated after the Revolution. There are a handful of specimens scattered around the globe in various collections, making this a most rare & desirable item.

Moorabool is pleased to offer this rarity as a part of our 2015 Exhibition & Catalogue, opening in Geelong & online on March 28th.