Glass cooler

seau a verre

about 1720–30
Made at Saint-Cloud Manufactory (France)


Overall: 11 x 14.3cm (4 5/16 x 5 5/8in.) Other (Overall): 12cm (4 3/4in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Soft-paste porcelain decorated in polychrome enamels and gold

On View

Charles C. Cunningham Gallery (Gallery 247)





The cylindrical pots are thrown on the wheel. Each has two grotesque mask handles, molded and applied, near the top. Above the masks, just below the rim, and below the in-curved base, just above the foot ring, are two moldings of hand-tooled gadrooning. The masks are in the form of a human head wearing a helmet-like headdress with a band with live indentations over the forehead and wing-like flaps over the cars; the eyes are bulging, the nose sharply pointed, and the mouth open, showing the upper teeth and the tongue, which is extended. The tongue and lips are colored with red enamel, the eyebrows and pupils in black. The coolers, which are creamy in tone, are decorated with the same two scenes delineated in black, red, and gold, and colored with blue, gray-blue (manganese?), turquoise green, and yellow. On one side six Chinese figures stand in groups of three on either side of a circular table. On the left a man wearing a long gray-blue robe and a conical blue hat with a brim stands behind a boy wearing a green robe and holding a red box; a woman (?) wearing a blue garment with a red cord at the waist over gray-blue trousers, turns her head to her right, and holds a green and gray quadrangular fan on a pole. On the yellow table, which has a red molding and four wavy legs, is ajar with a cover and a red flask. The figures at the right all look toward the left group. The man on the left is bareheaded, with two tufts of hair; he wears a long green robe with red and blue ties and holds a yellow umbrella ornamented in red over the head of a man wearing a red and blue hat, a gray-blue robe ornamented with a red band across the chest and gold-dotted circles; his left hand is at his belt, and he wears blue trousers. The woman (?) at the right has a high headdress and holds a red fan with a yellow ornament in her right hand; she wears a short, light green robe over a dark blue gown, with blue, gold, and red ribbons, two of which extend to either side, about knee height. Groups of three red dots and red stippling mark the ground under each figure and under the legs of the table. The details are slightly different on each piece: the heads on no. 52b are rounder than on no.52a; the faces and hands are more carefully drawn; and the article in the boy’s hands on no. 52b is possibly a square tray.
On the reverse side of each piece is a lake scene with, at the left, three Chinese figures seated in a blue, red, and gold boat; two of the figures sit side by side on the left, one holding a pear-shaped fan and wearing a blue garment, his companion in green; at the other end of the boat a figure in green holds a paddle or steering device. Above are two birds flying toward each other, their bodies red and their wings green and gold; the bird on the right has elaborate tail feathers. Next, to the right, there is a large building in blue, red, yellow, and gold, on six yellow piles. Attached to this and extending to the right is a long gallery with a yellow tile roof and, behind this, trees in green, gold, and red. At the right is a large island with a group of smaller houses; the grass is blue, with green and gray-blue rocks, green and gold trees, red palm trees and flowering shrubs, and, at the far right, a small fence. The water is shown by wavy red lines, swirling at the ends of the boat, around the piles, and at the front of the island. Again, the details of no. 52b are more precise than those of no. 52a, so that the feeling for the form of the boat, the movement of the birds, and the form of the houses and rocks is more successfully conveyed. The glaze has a slight orange-peel texture, and there are scattered, minute black imperfections and some evidence of the flowing of the colors, especially the copper green, under the gold outlining and ornamental hatching. The foot rings, which are setback under the lower gadrooned molding, are unglazed, perhaps intended for mounting in metal or wood. The pieces show a greenish translucency, with moons, by transmitted light.


By 1967, Gilbert Lévy, Paris; November 23, 1967, sold by Gilbert Lévy at Hôtel Drouot, Paris, lot 84, and most probably bought by Pablo Weill [see note 1]. December 1967, given by Pablo Weill to Frits Markus, Chatham, MA, and New York, NY; 1982, gift of Rita and Frits Markus. (Accession date: January 12, 1983)

[1] See note in MFA curatorial file.

Credit Line

Gift of Rita and Frits Markus