The best of the Sèvres porcelain produced in the mid-nineteenth century displays an originality of conception unmatched by the other European ceramic manufactories of the period. This inventiveness is reflected in the unusual subject matter and bold ornamental patterns employed in the decoration of this service. Each of the scenes depicts an aspect of the cultivation of cacao or the preparation of hot chocolate, and the various stages of production and the utensils employed are rendered with a surprising degree of historical accuracy. The scenes were both conceived and painted by Jean-Charles Develly, one of the most prolific and creative artists at the Sèvres factory. A different hand was responsible for the colorful borders and motifs that, though entirely fanciful, were intended to evoke ancient Aztec designs. This coffee service was purchased in 1986, when the collecting of nineteenth-century Sèvres porcelain by American museums was uncommon, and it remains one of the cornerstones of the Museum's nineteenth-century ceramic holdings.
Signature: Signed at lower left: C Develly 1836
Inscription: Below scene: Culture et Recolte du Cacao
Marking: Printed in blue on bottom:  crowned LP, SEVRES 1836 (factory mark 1834–45); incised under glaze:  script Le (mark of J.C. Leguiller, 1778–ca. 1848, mouleur sur l'ovale);  31-5 (production mark for May 1831).