Ewer and basin

Manufactory Sèvres Manufactory French
Ground decoration and gilding by Gilbert Drouet French
Flower decoration by François Antoine Pfeiffer French

Not on view

For the Sèvres porcelain factory, the years of the French Revolution were difficult ones. The majority of the aristocratic clientele that had traditionally purchased its products were either killed or driven into exile, and the demand for luxury products such as porcelain was much diminished in the ruinous economy created by the Revolution. Despite these challenges, however, the Sèvres factory managed to survive, and some of its most original products date from this period. This ewer and basin reflect several stylistic currents at the forefront of fashion in the last decade of the eighteenth century. The spare, elegant lines of both the ewer and basin embody the austerity of the most up-to-date Neoclassical taste, and the contemporary fascination with hardstones can be seen in the imitation porphyry surfaces that decorate the exterior of the basin and the bottom half of the ewer. Lapis lazuli, marble, and porphyry were among the surfaces imitated by the painters at Sèvres; the complex speckled patterns and the deep purple hue of porphyry must have been especially difficult to achieve, for this type of decoration is rare even on expensive objects such as this ewer and basin.

Ewer and basin, Sèvres Manufactory (French, 1740–present), Hard-paste porcelain, French, Sèvres

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Ewer (.158a) and basin (.158b)