Imperial Sèvres factory
Hard-paste porcelain, polychrome and gold decoration
Gift of Gustave Thomas, 1906
Inv. 12876 A-E
Tray: purchase, 1934
© Les Arts Décoratifs / photo: Jean Tholance
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The “breakfast service” was used for a light morning meal. This one, made by the Sèvres porcelain factory in 1813, was delivered to Empress Marie Louise for the Château de Saint-Cloud. It comprises a large oval tray, six cups and saucers, six egg cups on dolphin stands, an egg-shaped teapot, a milk jug and a sugar bowl. The present tray came from another service; the original one was made of varnished sheet metal.
The chemist Alexandre Brongniart, director of the Sèvres factory from 1800 to 1847, introduced hard-paste porcelain in 1804 and revived the forms and decorations of the factory’s output. During the Empire, the whiteness of the paste that had earned porcelain its reputation in the eighteenth century was hidden beneath polychrome and gilt grounds, giving porcelain the appearance of precious metal.