Sèvres Manufactory (French, 1740–present); Decorated by Jean-Marie-Ferdinand Régnier (French, active 1812–48)
H. of coffeepot 7 1/2 in. (19.1 cm); L. of tray 19 5/8 in. (49.8 cm)
Gift of Helen Boehm, in memory of her late husband, Edward Marshall Boehm, 1969 (69.193.1-.11)
The various shapes employed for this exuberant service evoke both China and the Near East, the origins of tea and coffee respectively. The Sèvres factory described the service as a "Déjeuner Chinois Réticulé," or a Chinese service with openwork decoration, but its fidelity to Chinese models is slight. The shape of the tray with its scrolling feet is based upon Chinese lacquers, and the double-walled forms with openwork exteriors appear to have been inspired specifically by Chinese porcelains sold in Paris in 1826. Additional Chinese-inspired elements include the simulated bamboo handles and the painted Chinese emblems, but the profusion of decorative motifs and the color scheme of white, pink, and gold are entirely European in character. This blending of Asian forms with European decoration reflected one aspect of the taste for exoticism in mid-nineteenth-century France.
It is not clear if services of this design were intended primarily for display or for use, but it is known that several were given as diplomatic gifts by Queen Marie-Amélie, who purchased at least seven examples between 1835 and 1843. The double-walled, openwork construction was very difficult to produce, and the factory's obvious success demonstrated its considerable technical expertise.