Wine-bottle cooler (seau à bouteille)

Manufactory: Vincennes Manufactory (French, ca. 1740–1756)

Modeler: Attributed to Jean-Claude Duplessis (French, ca. 1695–1774, active 1748–74)

Date: 1753

Culture: French, Vincennes

Medium: Soft-paste porcelain

Dimensions: Overall (confirmed): 7 7/8 x 10 3/8 x 7 13/16 in. (20 x 26.4 x 19.8 cm)

Classification: Ceramics-Porcelain

Credit Line: Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Wrightsman, 1970

Accession Number: 1970.230.4


These wine-bottle coolers (see also 1970.230.5) are among the eight produced for one of the most famous porcelain services of the eighteenth century. The dinner and dessert service was ordered by Louis XV from the Vincennes factory in 1751, and it was delivered between 1753 and 1755, in three major installments because of the large number of pieces involved. The service included many new forms, and, most notably, it was the first time that the ground color bleu céleste (sky blue) was employed for a service. This brilliant turquoise blue was one of the most expensive of all ground colors to produce, and it remained popular throughout the eighteenth century. The technical difficulty in achieving a uniform application of any ground color is evident in the slightly mottled aspect of the bleu céleste of these coolers, but the factory learned to overcome this obstacle several years after this service was made.

Many of the forms, or models, made for the service remained in production throughout the century, as it was prohibitively expensive to design new ones each time a service was ordered. This model of wine-bottle cooler was designed by Jean-Claude Duplessis, director of the modeling workshop at the factory, who was responsible for the majority of the shapes produced at Vincennes and at its successor factory at Sèvres through the 1750s. It is not known which painters at the factory were responsible for the superb vignettes of flowers, but they reflect a remarkable level of skill for an enterprise that had been in active production for little more than eight years when these coolers were made.

[Jeffrey H. Munger, 2010]