The Royal Roots of Sèvres Porcelain

October 26th, 2011 | posted by Bill Rau

These massive Sèvres Palace urns stand over five feet tall and are extremely rare due to their size and expense to produce

These massive Sèvres Palace urns stand over five feet tall and are extremely rare due to their size and expense to produce

When King Louis XV took an interest in porcelain and became a primary shareholder of what would become the Sèvres factory in 1752, he intended to catapult the international status of French porcelain to the finest in the world. It’s believed that his motivation came from his famed mistress, Madame de Pompadour, who possessed a penchant for the factory’s creations. Regardless of the reason, it is the royal roots of Sèvres that provided the foundation for some of the most coveted porcelain ever made.

After the King purchased the factory in 1759, he had the operations moved from Chateau de Vincennes closer to Versailles to the town of Sèvres. It soon became clear that Louis XV’s main goal was to out-do the larger names of the period, including Meissen and Royal Vienna, as he passed laws forbidding other porcelain makers from copying Sèvres techniques, colors and patterns, and placed tremendous taxes on competitor’s wares. Soon, the quality and exclusivity of Sèvres made it a luxury only the wealthiest could afford, including the entire French Royal Family, their court and the aristocracy.

This incredible pair of Sevrés Palace Urns was clearly made for such royal tastes. Standing at just over five feet tall, bears the royal monograms of both the Emperor and King Louis Philippe in extraordinary hand-painted gilt. Scenes of Napoleon at battle exhibit an astounding level of precision, and are beautifully contrasted by a background of Sèvres signature bleu turquin color. Urns of such artistic distinction were commissioned almost exclusively by Europe’s royal families, making this pair exceptionally rare and desirable.

If there is one statement that can be said about Sèvres porcelain, is that there is no such thing as “good” Sèvres-there’s only “great” Sèvres. Throughout its 250-plus-year history, the company has reinforced that reputation by producing a breathtaking array of pieces that are fit for a king.

To view M.S. Rau Antiques’ selection of Sèvres porcelain, click here.

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