Sèvres Manufactory (French, 1740–present); Decorated by Jean-Charles Develly (French, active 1813–47)
H. of coffeepot 7 1/2 in. (19.1 cm); L. of tray 17 5/8 in. (44.8 cm)
Purchase, The Charles E. Sampson Memorial Fund and Gift of Irwin Untermyer, by exchange, 1986 (1986.281.1ab–4)
All of the scenes painted on this coffee service reflect activities connected with the cultivation of cocoa and the preparation of hot chocolate. The scenes are set in Mexico, and each composition includes specific references to some aspect of the growing, harvesting, and sale of cocoa beans, or the steps involved in transforming the beans into hot chocolate. The scenes provide a wealth of detail about these various activities, and the depiction of the preparatory steps as well as the utensils employed reflects a surprising degree of historical accuracy.
The scenes were conceived and painted by Jean-Charles Develly, one of the most prolific and creative artists at the Sèvres factory in the first half of the nineteenth century. A different artist was responsible for the ornamental borders and motifs that, although entirely fanciful, were intended to evoke ancient Aztec designs.