Lot 8
  • 8

A Louis XV ormolu-mounted Sèvres bleu celeste porcelain seau crénelle the seau crénelé circa 1769, the flowers Vincennes circa 1745-50, the ormolu late 18th/early 19th century

100,000 - 150,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • porcelain, gilt-bronze
  • height 18 in.
  • 46 cm
the porcelain with blue interlaced L's enclosing date letter q for 1769, painter's mark for Levé, and incised 5 to the vase, the porcelain flowers mounted on ormolu stems and leaves issuing from a blue seau crénelé with two outcurving handles flanking floral reserves framed by floral gilt designs on each side.


Almost certainly one of the two seaux crénelés à fleurs delivered to Madame du Barry (d. 1793) on September 29, 1769 and subsequently sent to the château de Louveciennes
Acquired from Partridge, London, 1990
French & Company, sold Christie's New York, November 24, 1998, lot 24 ($145,500)


Overall in very good condition. Ormolu with some oxidation, surface dirt, and rubbing. One leaf is detached but present. Two small flowers are also detached but present. Seau crénelé: some very minor occasional wear to the gilding. Flowers: very minor and occasional chips and losses to the edges of some of the petals, some of which are restored.
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion.

Catalogue Note

Just ten days before being presented at court as Louis XV’s maîtresse-en-titre on April 22, 1769, Madame du Barry acquired a bleu celeste porcelain service from the Sèvres manufactory. The order, which included 20 assiettes à fleurs, 16 assiettes à oiseaux, 2 seaux à demi bouteille, 2 seaux à  bouteilles and 4 seaux à verre à fleurs cost the countess 2592 livres. A few months later, on September 29, two further pieces were delivered at the cost of 288 livres to complete the service: a pair of seaux crénelés à fleurs. Since only two such pieces were recorded in the Sèvres archives for the year 1769, a date which corresponds with the date letters found on the present lot, it is almost certain that this piece is one of the two seaux crénelés à fleurs delivered to Madame du Barry for her château at Louveciennes. The service, including the present lot, was eventually seized by the Revolutionary government and subsequently sold in 1793.

The trend of mounting porcelain seaux with naturalistic flowers was pioneered by the marchand-mercier Lazare Duvaux, who is known to have delivered in December 1749 a large porcelain basket mounted with ormolu fitted with Vincennes porcelain flowers to madame Case at the price of 1,500 livres. In 1750 he sold a similar, though probably smaller, piece to monsieur le Cte. De Forcalquier for 360 livres. The majority of the Vincennes manufactory’s production consisted of life-like flowers and Duvaux was one their most notable buyers. Besides working with Vincennes flowers and Sèvres objects, Duvaux was known to be particularly innovative with ormolu mounts. The painter’s marks on the lot offered here refer to Denis Levé, a craftsman specializing in flower painting at Vincennes and Sèvres between 1754-1793 and 1795-1805.   

Although the location of the pair to the present seau crénelé is currently unknown, there are a few existing closely related examples, including a Sèvres basket from 1763 painted by Aloncle and sold from the collection of M. Edouard Chappey, Paris, Galerie Georges Petit, March 27-31, 1907, lot 1135; a Meissen model illustrated in L.H. Roth, Ed., J. Pierpont Morgan, Collector, Wadsworth, 1987, no.58, pp.160-1; and another executed in Meissen porcelain sold Christie's London, June 20, 1985, lot 16.

Madame Du Barry (1743-1793)

Born Jeanne Bécu, the illegitimate daughter of a seamstress, Madame du Barry became Louis XV's mistress in 1768 and was officially introduced at the court a year later and installed herself at Versailles in 1770. She quickly became one of the main trendsetters at court and was a major patron of some of the most important marchands-merciers such as Poirier and Duvaux. With her numerous purchases, she furnished her apartments at both Versailles and her residence in Louveciennes. Louveciennes, to where the present lot was delivered and used, was a property that had been given to Madame du Barry by the King in 1769 and included buildings from the seventeenth century later restored by Ange-Jacques Gabriel. Claude Nicolas Ledoux was commissioned to design new buildings in the Neoclassical style but the project for the château was never completed and only the Pavillion and the Temple d'Amour were finished. The former can be considered as one of the first Neoclassical buildings, which contributed to the spread of the new style at court. Madame du Barry eventually retired to her Louveciennes home after Louis XV’s death in 1774 and lived there until she was arrested in 1793 by the Revolutionary Tribunal at the suspicion of aiding émigrés. She was beheaded in December of the same year.