Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Precious Time: A Gorgeous Sèvres Clock and Garniture, 1770-1780

Clock and Garniture
The Victoria & Albert Museum

In 1740, in the royal château of Vincennes, the world’s most important porcelain company—at the time--was founded, enticing master craftsmen from the nearby factory at Chantilly. By 1745, Louis XV had granted the makers of this porcelain the privilege of producing designs “in the manner of Saxony, painted and gilded, with human figures.”

The patronage and protection of King Louis XV and his famed mistress, Madame de Pompadour, enabled Vincennes to produce objects of the highest quality. In 1756, the factory was so successful that it had outgrown its workshops in the château. They were moved to a new high-tech location at Sèvres (south-west of Paris). So enamored of the porcelain, in 1759 the king purchased the factory himself, producing works of unprecedented luxury specifically for the French court and the King's apartments at Versailles. Highly costly, the items manufactured for this group were only the stuff of the court and the upper-classes.

This clock and garniture set is the perfect example of the work of Vincennes. Glorious blue porcelain mounted in ormolu characterizes this unusual clock and garniture of covered vases. The clock features moveable dial bands set in an oviform vase which has been adorned with an ornate pattern in blue, black and gold. It is surmounted by a gilt-bronze figure of an armed cupid. The handles resemble floral festoons.

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