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Past Exhibition

Tea Service

photo of tea set,  milk jug, tea pot, sugar bowl decorated with polychrome birds on white background and blue and gold pattern

Tea Service (Déjeuner)
Sèvres Porcelain Manufactory
French, 1767
Soft-paste porcelain
Teapot: 5 1/2 x 7 3/16 x 4 1/8 in. (14 x 18.3 x 10.5 cm)
Sugar bowl: h. 4 3/4 in. (12.1 cm), diam. 3 7/8 in. (9.8 cm)
Cups: 2 3/8 x 3 11/16 x 2 7/8 in. (6 x 9.4 x 7.3 cm)
Saucers: h. 1 3/8 in. (3.5 cm), diam. 5 3/8 in. (13.7 cm)
Milk jug: 4 5/8 x 5 x 3 1/2 in. (11.7 x 12.7 x 8.9 cm)
Henry Clay Frick Bequest, 1918

This tea service consists of a teapot, a sugar bowl (both named after Pierre Calabre, one of the factory’s stockholders), a milk jug, four cups, and four saucers. All the pieces are similarly decorated with polychrome birds in white reserved panels surrounded by a bleu céleste ground spangled throughout with gold dots. The birds were painted by Antoine-Joseph Chappuis (act. 1756−87), who specialized in painting birds and flowers on functional pieces like tea, dessert, and dinner services. In 1767, the year he decorated this tea service, Chappuis was also involved in painting birds on the 108-piece dessert service made for the Russian nobleman Count Kyril Razumovsky (now at Waddesdon Manor, in Buckinghamshire, England). Some of the creatures on both services were copied directly from The Natural History of Birds and Gleanings of the Natural History by the English naturalist and diplomat George Edwards. Introduced to Sèvres in 1765 by the Duke of Richmond, who gave the manufactory his personal copies, these volumes allowed for a more accurate depiction of birds. Edwards’s red-beaked toucan is recognizable on one cup while a pink pompadour cotinga and a wall-creeper of Surinam adorn the teapot. Tea services were purchased separately or as part of a larger dessert service.