Sèvres

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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.
Gold Swag
Designated as the “Royal Porcelain Manufactory” during the mid-eighteenth century under the reign of Louis XV, the Sèvres Porcelain Manufactory needs little introduction as one of Europe’s most innovative and influential porcelain manufacturers during the eighteenth century. Eight years before Sèvres manufactured this cup and saucer in 1780, Louis XVI had become king, and the...
An Inherited Innovation
This plate was designed by Joseph-Theodore Deck, who worked at Sèvres as a designer before eventually becoming director in 1887 until his death in 1891. Prior to becoming director, Deck was part of the Council of Improvement and helped to establish aesthetic and technical directives for the manufactory at the end of the nineteenth century....
Philosophers don’t condescend
I fell in love with this model the first time I saw it, and every time I see it I still smile. With its sophisticated use of materials, including that of Sèvres busts, and the humor of juxtaposing the two great French philosophers of the eighteenth century, Voltaire and Rousseau, it displays itself as a...
Oval tray with raised and everted rim. Decorated with outer border of interlaced triangular geometric motifs in lapis blue against brown background, surrounded by thin gold rims; then a border of tooled gilding with 16 roundels painted in polychrome of exotic birds, alternating with the smaller roundels with butterflies. Around central oval a wide band of trompe-l'oeil coffering. Center painted with arrangement of seashells, coral, and pearls against a faux marble background.
Like Father, Like Son
This oval tray represents the unique collaborative effort between Alexandre Brongniart, the director of Sèvres appointed in 1800, and his father, the designer Alexandre-Théodore Brongniart. The younger Brongniart’s passion for the natural world is reflected by the scientific precision of the biological species represented in finely painted enamel. Small roundels of exotic birds and butterflies...
Flat marli. Concentric bands, in gold: plain, advancing wave motif, and scattered stars; enclosing view of the Sèvres porcelain factory in colors.
Sèvres Self Portrait
This plate shows a picturesque view of the Manufacture de Sèvres, the prestigious French porcelain factory first established under Louis XV. The manufactory was more than just a workplace; many employees lived within the building or in nearby housing. The surrounding pastoral countryside had plots of land where workers could garden. The plate’s figure sitting...