This magnificent Sèvres déjeuner appears to be unrecorded in the literature and therefore can be treated as an important addition to the canon of the Sèvres painter Charles-Nicolas Dodin. All of the painted scenes, with the exception of those on the coffee cans which remain unidentified, are after engravings after works by François Boucher. Dodin used the following as sources:
The tray: The scene is taken from the engraving by Les Charmes de la Vie Champêtre by Jean Daullé (1703-1763), after the 1737 painting by Boucher, which was announced in the Mercure de France in June 1757.i
teapot: to one side, La Pipée by Gilles Demarteau (1722-1776), after Boucher;ii
the reverse, Jeune paysanne assise avec un enfant et un chien by Demarteau, after Boucher;
the sugar bowl: both sides incorporating figures from Bergère garnissant de fleurs son chapeau et berger dormant, by Demarteau, after Boucher;iii
1st saucer: Les Oeufs cassés by Demarteau, after Boucher;
2nd saucer: Le petit dénicheur de merles by Demarteau, after Boucher (figs. 1-6.)
Dodin is regarded as one of the most celebrated painters ever to work at the Sèvres porcelain manufactory. His unusually long career, which began at Vincennes in April 1754 spanned the last five decades of the 18th century until his death in 1803. He was employed on some of the factories most important productions; in 1764-65 he painted a scene commemorating the birth of a grandchild of the Marquis de Courteille, finance director and patron of the Sèvres porcelain factory.iv Two plaques by Dodin were included in the gift from Louis XV to Christian VII of Denmark in 1768, one painted with the Sacrifice of Pan, for which he received 444 livres. In the year before this déjeuner was painted Madame du Barry received a guéridon preserved today in the Louvre Museum, painted by Dodin with the Grand Turk giving a concert to his mistress after Carl van Loo; he also painted a Royal portrait plaque depicting Charles Philippe, Comte d'Artois and his new wife Marie Thérèse de Savoie.v
There has been some uncertainty as to the name of this tray form in the 18th century, and has been variously catalogued as ‘plateau ovale polylobe’ and ‘plateau à rubans’. It is known that the form was made in only one size and that no plaster model has survived. The current attribution to the name baguette is partly based on an order in October 1773 by Monsieur Gantier, perhaps on behalf of Paul Petrovich, Grand Duke of Russia, who purchased a ‘dejeuner a baguette fond d’or emaillé avec attributs, armes et guirlandes cy 840 [livres], [tea set à baguettes gold ground, enamelled with attributes, weapons and garlands here 840 (livres)].vi It probably included a tray of the same form as the present example, decorated with the Duke’s coat-of-arms, which is now in the Museé national de Céramique, Sèvres.vii The word baguette meaning piped or moulded which may refer to the form of the shaped rim.
It is difficult to identify the present déjeuner in the Sèvres factory records as neither the painter’s records nor the kiln records survive before 1777 and 1778 respectively. Equally frustrating are the sale records from the 1760s onwards which frequently lack enough descriptive details such as shape or decoration to successfully link an entry to an item. Several examples are listed in 1775 ranging in price between 120 to 480 Livres, as well as lower priced examples. Included in the entries are the marchands-merciers Mr. Dulac and Mr. Poirier, the latter of which acquired three déjeuner, the most expensive being 336 Livres.viii
A good comparable is a green-ground tray (plateau à filet et rubans) painted by Dodin in 1775 which in the British Museum, London.ix Dodin painted at least one other green-ground tea service in 1775, a surviving teapot, théière 'Calabre', with classical scenes after boucher is in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, object. no. BK-17511.
Notable comparables of this form include a green-ground déjeuner, circa 1772, painted with flowers by Jacques-françois Micaud, from the collection of Edith M.K. Wetmore and Maude A.K. Wetmore, Parke-Bernet Galleries, Inc. at their residence, Château-sur-Mer, Newport, Rhode Island, sold 18th September 1969, lot 779, anon. sale; Sotheby’s New York, 11th October 1965, lot 305; a bleu-celéste déjeuner, circa 1774, painted with similar pastoral scenes after Boucher by Antoine Caton, gilded by Jean-Pierre Boulanger was sold by order of the Trustees of the late Lord Hillingdon, Christie’s London, 3rd July 1978, lot 262; and a beau bleu déjeuner, circa 1775, also gilded by Étienne-Henry Le Guay, but painted with harbour scenes by Jean-Louis Morin from the Samuel H. Kress Foundation collection is in the Metropolitan museum of Art, New York, acc. no. 58.75.103.
[i] See de Bellaigue, 2009, Vol. I, p.301; de Rochebrune, 2012, pp. 114-15, for a vase Royal, circa 1768-70, painted with the scene from the Royal collection, and the source, where it is noted that in 1777 Dodin painted the same scene on the tray of a déjeuner Paris, seen by the compiler in 1980 at Madresfield Court, Worcestershire. Les Charmes de la Vie Champêtre was used by Dodin for the painted scene of a vase à baguette, the central vase of a green-ground garniture of five ordered in 1772 by Madame Victoire, daughter of Louis XV and aunt of Louis XVI for 2640 livres. Three of the vases were returned to the Palace of Versailles in 2013, the other two vases are in Metropolitan Museum, New York, see de Rochebrune, 2012, pp. 128-29.
[ii] See de Rochebrune, 2012, p. 112-13, for a pair of vases Bachelier à anses tortillées, circa 1768, painted with the scene from the Royal Collection, and the source; a pair with a bleu-celéste ground, circa 1769, painted by Dodin with the scene is in the Wallace collection, London, inv. no. C292-3, see Rosalind Savill, The Wallace Collection - Catalogue of Sèvres Porcelain, London, 1988, Vol. II, pp. 301-304.
[iii] It is interesting to note how the painters at Sèvres sometimes adapted prints or engravings when transferring scenes to porcelain, in the case of the present sugar bowl, Dodin has skilfully altered the source print to accommodate the limited space. See Savill, 1988, Vol. II, pp. 336-37, for a Vase ‘cassolette Bachelier’, circa 1767, painted with the scene in its entirety, and the source. The source print is split in a similar manner on the saucer of a gobelet et soucoupe enfonce, sold at Christie’s London, 10th June 2010, lot 111, the cup also incorporates the print Les Oeufs cases.
[iv] Now in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, mus. no. 400-1872.
[v] mounted in an amaranth secrétaire à abattant, The Dimitri Mavrommaatis collection, sold Sotheby’s London, 8th July 2008, lot 47.
[vi] Quoted by L. Roth, 2000, p. 202, where the author illustrates the J. Pierpont Morgan example, circa 1769; see p. 204, where the author lists known examples for 1773 ranging in price from 324 to 840 livres, the latter being the example for Peter Petrovich.
[vii] Mentioned by Marcelle Brunet and Tamara Préaud, Sèvres, Des origines à nos jours, Fribourg, 1978, p. 176, no. 156, Inv. no. 5273.
[viii] Archives, Manufacture Nationale de Sèvres, Registres des ventes, Vy 3, Vy 4, The Wallace Collection library, London.
[ix] See Aileen Dawson, A catalogue of French Porcelain in the British Museum, London, 1994, pp. 139-141, no. 120, where it is noted that a déjeuner fond verd Mignature, costing as much 1,200 livres was presented to the Austrian Emperor and delivered on 3 April 1777 to Vergennes, the Foreign Minister.