Sugar bowl

French
1761
Made at Sèvres Manufactory (France)


Object Place: Europe, France

Dimensions

9 cm (3 9/16 in.)

Accession Number

1983.213a-b

Medium or Technique

Soft-paste porcelain

On View

Charles C. Cunningham Gallery (Gallery 247)

Collections

Europe

Classifications

Porcelain

The tray, which gives its name to the service, is molded in a form sometimes described as “cartouche-shaped, ” with two symmetrically placed, applied twisted foliate handles. The teapot has an ovoid body with an applied ear-shaped handle, a slightly curved spout (repaired at the lip), and a low-domed cover with a flower finial. The sugar bowl is pear-shaped with a low-domed cover and a flower finial (cf. no. 61). The three-legged milk jug has a pear-shaped body flaring slightly at the rim, which is scalloped and notched and rises upward and outward at the front to form a spout; a rustic handle, at the rear, rises from the rim, loops back, and joins the body at its fullest bulge. Flowers and foliage applied in relief grow upward from each of the three short, rustic feet and from the attachments of the handle. The cups are pear-shaped, with interlacing branch handles (cf. nos. 66 and 67), and the saucers are bowl-shaped (cf. no. 67).
All the pieces in this service are decorated with one or more rural landscapes in reserved panels, which are shaped generally to conform with the shapes of the pieces. Each panel is framed with a gold band with a chased pattern of triangles, within a narrower dark puce band, and is set against a pink ground (fond rose) ornamented with a trellis pattern in blue, dark puce, and gold. The trellis consists of scrolling, blue, feathered leaves rising upward to right and left from puce bosses; on the tray the bosses have a central gold dot and an outer circle of gold dots and on the smaller pieces only a central dot; there is a gold dotted line marking the center of each leaf. In the diamond-shaped interstices are square rosettes with blue centers and puce petals touched with gold. On the tray the diamonds are consistent in size and larger than on the other pieces; on the teapot and jug the diamonds are larger at the bulging part. The gold dots were applied with the rest of the gilding, as the last stage of decorating, and it is probably not unusual to find some missing (on the cover of the sugar bowl they are lacking from two leaves; on the teapot, one boss lacks its central gold dot; and on the tray, one leaf is without dots, and one boss lacks the outer circle).
A variety of landscapes, painted in natural colors by an unidentified artist, completely fill the reserved panels. On the tray, on the banks of a river a shepherd wearing a red coat with a blue sash and holding a staff is looking back to a group of three sheep; a group of buildings with an obelisk, a grove of fruit trees, and a circular building with a dovecote and a bird weathervane (?), are at his right; in the left foreground, on a grassy knole, there is a tree stump with one sturdy branch bearing green and brown leaves reaching upward into the central arch of the panel; a stone footbridge with two arches, overgrown with ivy, is at the right foreground; the background, painted in pastel tones, includes a round tower at the left and a village among hills in the center, there are many birds in the sky, which, as on all the pieces, is uncolored and without clouds.
The teapot has two circular panels indented at the top. The scene on the obverse is of a large group of farm buildings on the shore of a lake or river, a man in blue, wearing a hat, with a sack on his back and a staff in his right hand, walks in from the left; in the foreground is a rocky, grassy knole with a tree and a stump, the brown leaves filling the center of the sky area; smoke is rising from the nearest of the three chimneys of the largest building; in the distance is a large church with two towers and a domed crossing. On the reverse, two trees intersect in the foreground, one with yellow green leaves, the other brownish; a farm building at the right has a smoking chimney; in the center, the river is spanned by a triple-arched stone bridge over which two figures arc crossing, there are green trees at the left of the bridge and birds in the sky above; in the background are pastel hills and buildings.
The sugar bowl and cover each have two panels; on the obverse of the bowl, a man wearing a blue coat, red trousers, and a hat is fishing in the left foreground; beside him a tree with green and brown leaves, on a grassy knole, curves to the right over a building with an arched entry (a chapel?), to the right of which is a buttressed round tower on which a red banner is flying, in the left background are a small church and hills and birds in the sky above them. On the obverse of the cover is a small farm building with a large square door, a chimney at the right, and a fence; there is a grove of trees at the left and, at the right, a single tree arching to the right, with hills in the distance. The scene on the reverse of the bowl differs from the others in that the central element is a monument: an obelisk overgrown with ivy, with an orb at the peak; there are four statues on pedestals around it; on the grassy mound in the foreground a man wearing a red coat, holding a staff, is reclining; a V-shaped tree with yellow-brown and green leaves is at the left, and, at the right, there is a small group of buildings among trees and shrubs; there are birds in the sky and very distant, low hills. On the reverse of the cover, a tree at the left of center arches to the center, which is open to the distant hills; a simple building with a smoking chimney is at the right.
The panel on the milk jug is centered under the spout and between two of the three feet. At the left is the end of a castle wall with turreted corners and buttresses; there is a river in the center with two trees, one with gray-green and the other with brown leaves, forming a V on its left bank; a fence is in the foreground; a pavillion with a straw roof is at the right; in front of this is a kneeling figure wearing a white cap, a blue blouse, and a pink skirt, washing clothes; a pink mountain and pastel trees are in the background.
The oval panels on the cups are opposite the handles. On one, e, a tree with yellow-brown leaves grows from a brown mound in the center foreground, bisecting the panel; to the left are smaller trees and a mound of pinkish rock with waterfalls emptying into a pool; at the right, on a yellow meadow, a fisherman walks toward the center: he is wearing a hat, a yellow jacket, pink breeches, and gray stockings and has his rod over his shoulder; there is a ruined church facade in the distance behind him and hills beyond. On the other cup, g, on the river bank in the foreground a fisherman in a brown hat, red jacket, and blue trousers stands facing left toward the center, his line in the water; at the left a tree with brownish green leaves leans over the center; at the left, behind the tree, is the ruin of a church or wall, with a large arched entry, and in front of it a small house; on a grassy mound at the right is a fence, and in the distance behind it are pink hills, a tower, and a house; there are birds in the sky.
Both saucers have circular panels with river or lake scenes. On one saucer, f, crossing trees with gray-green, brown, and yellow-green leaves, and smaller bluish green trees and grasses grow on the bank in the foreground to the left of center; a clump of broad leaves is at the base of the trees, dwarfing the fisherman wearing a black hat and red jacket who is seated on the bank just behind to the right, his line in the lilac-colored water; across the water is the remnant of a stone bridge, one arch remaining, with a towered house on it; there arc pink and lavender rocky hills in the distance. On the other saucer, h, there are two trees on a grassy bank in the foreground to the right of center, one with a gray trunk and brownish green leaves growing vertically, the other, with a brown trunk and brownish green leaves, arching to the right and back to center; at the left is a thatched cottage with a central chimney and a few smaller trees growing next to it; a fisherman wearing a black hat and red jacket is seated on the bank to the right of the cottage; a building on a mound at the left in the middle distance has an arched door and a round tower, and some pastel buildings are at the right on a bank; in the far distance at the center can be seen the spire and tall facade of a church; there are birds in the sky.
The gilding of the trellis decoration and around the panels has already been noted. In addition, each piece is edged with a string of rounded gold dentils, and each foot ring has a plain gold band. On the milk jug the pink ground continues on the underside, but this is an undecorated area encircled by a gold band outlined on both sides in dark puce. The handles of the tray, the teapot, and the cups are white, accented in gold, as are the handle and feet of the milk jug. The relief flowers of the jug are also gilded, and there are two sprays of gold flowers and leaves painted on the outside walls of the tray just below the handles, one masking a fire crack, the other for symmetry. The flower finial of the teapot is touched with gold, the flower on the sugar bowl is yellow, and the leaves of both finials are green. A flying bird is painted in polychrome on the lower curve of the spout of the teapot; it has a white head, a blue neck, puce wings edged at the top with orange, a yellow breast, black feet, and a short, orange tail. It may have been added to distract the eye from a slight glaze discoloration at the base of the spout.

Provenance

Collection of Gilbert Lévy, Paris. Collection of Alfred Wenz, Paris. Purchased by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, from Rosenberg & Stiebel, New York, 1983 (Accession Date: May 11, 1983)

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: The object folder contains an unsigned note stating: "Bought by my father I don't know where and sold by him to Mr. Wenz. Acquired by me after the death of Mr. Wenz."

Credit Line

Gift of Rita and Frits Markus