Porcelain

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Image features circular gilt bronze clock mounted on head of seated figure of Pu Tai Ho-Shang (Chinese god of contentment) in white porcelain, the whole on a scrolling Rococo style footed base. Please scroll down to read the blog post about this object.
A Search for Contentment in France
This clock does not merely depict a portly man enjoying a good laugh. The soft-paste porcelain figure portrays Pu-Tai Ho Shang, a Chinese folklore deity. “Pu-Tai” means cloth sack, and the figure is usually shown with one; here, the sack supports the seated figure’s left arm. The jolly but poor deity uses the small sack...
A Very Functional Form
This verrière defines the classification of objects we call decorative arts: something that is both beautiful and functional. The function of the verrière is to cool wine glasses by inverting them and resting the feet and stems on the curved rim of the vessel, with the bowls immersed in cold water or ice. This type...
How to Keep Your Cool
In the days before under-counter wine fridges, seaux à bouteilles, buckets made of earthenware or porcelain, were filled with ice water and used to keep bottles of wine cool. Their use continues to this day in the form of metal ice buckets used to keep white wine chilled table-side at fancy restaurants. When these objects were made,...
Café
Café from the Service des Objets de Dessert, dated 1819-20, was drawn by Jean-Charles Develly as part of a table service for the Royal Sèvres Porcelain Manufactory. The factory was founded in Vincennes in 1740 and later relocated to Sèvres in 1756. In 1800, Alexandre Brongniart (1770–1847) was chosen as the administrator of the factory...
A Cabinet Fit for a King
The theme of this Royal Jewel Cabinet from France, dated 1824-26, is no doubt indulgence in all forms – especially love and extravagance. Its rich iconography displays symbols of love and jewels, where antiquity is mixed with early-nineteenth century depictions of flowers.[1] The cabinet is constructed of porcelain plaques in a gilt-bronze armature. A golden...
Image of Christine Germain-Donnat at Cooper Hewitt podium, giving a lecture about Sèvres Porcelain
Design by Hand | Sèvres’ Christine Germain-Donnat
For our seventh Design by Hand series, Christine Germain-Donnat, Director of the Department of Heritage and Collections for the Sèvres Porcelain Manufactory, is the featured speaker. She discusses the extraordinary history of Sèvres porcelain.
Checkmate for the State
Take one look at these chess pieces and you’ll notice that they are not your typical roundup of pawns, knights, and rooks. These exquisitely hand-painted figures have distinct personalities and the subsets on either side are the board have decidedly opposite characterizations. Among the red pieces, representing the Communists, the harvester pawns assume prepared positions....
Ceramic Seashells at the Seashore
Against a bright seascape, the type that reminds one so strongly of a summer day at the beach that it is almost possible to smell the salty air, oversized and misshapen shells are scattered haphazardly.  They fill the foreground of Royal Copenhagen’s poster like beached whales: awkward, commanding, and strangely beautiful.  The storied Danish ceramics...
Egyptomania in Egypt
Throughout the 19th century, Egypt was considered to be nominally a province of the Ottoman Empire, although both France and Britain worked to assert influence and control in the country. Isma’il Pasha was a young man when succeeded his uncle as Khedive (Viceroy) of Egypt in 1863. Isma’il presided over the country as it was...