Objects in the Seattle Art Museum Collection
The objects on this page, originally from the Dr. Ulrich and Stella Fritzsche Collection, are now in the permanent collection of the Seattle Art Museum. All of these objects are on display in the SAM Porcelain Room, and can also be viewed within the SAM Online Object Collection.
Easily overlooked as one first enters the Porcelain Room at SAM is the tiny “Three-Legged Teapot” (théière à trois pieds, slide 4), which stands on paw-like feet with gilded toes. Its surprisingly minute size could be due to the eighteenth-century custom of brewing a small, concentrated amount of tea, which was later diluted with hot water, as recounted by Denis Diderot in the Encyclopédie (Savill 1988, 2:490). Read here the colorful story of how Dr. Fritzsche acquired this rare teapot from Madame Polles in Paris.
SAM Online Object Collection, no. 99.71.
Just to the right of the little Three-Legged Teapot in the SAM Porcelain Room is this elegant “Sugar Spoon” (cuillière à sucre, 1752–54, slide 2), likely designed by Jean-Claude Duplessis (ca. 1695–1774), the artistic director at Sèvres. Such spoons were rarely produced due to the fragility of the handle (Eriksen 1980, 66; Eriksen and De Bellaigue 1987, 275). Stella Fritzsche notes that this spoon was one of her favorite pieces. Read more about Stella Fritzsche’s memories of their collecting years here. SAM Online Object Collection, no. 2005.177.
Another inherently fragile structure is the footed eggcup on a narrow stem; like the spoon, it is rare because easily breakable, so this style was later replaced with a more durable footless model (Eriksen and De Bellaigue 1987, 305). Two such footed Eggcups on slender stems are in the “Botanicals” case in the Porcelain Room. The matching set of both eggcups is visible in “Two Eggcups” (coquetiers à pied, ca. 1755, slide 1a).
This is an enlarged detail of the “Bowl with Cover and Stand” (écuelle, 1775–80, slide 50a), which is a hard-paste, two-handled soup bowl. “These scenes with exotic gentlemen in Turkish dress recall the bustling harbor scenes fashionable on porcelain earlier in the eighteenth century. Philippe Castel placed his exotic figures in harbor scenes dominated by classical ruins, inspired by the interest in ancient Greece and Rome that captivated Europe during the last quarter of the eighteenth century” (Emerson, “The Porcelain Room at the Seattle Art Museum,” in SAM 2007, 30). The bowl and its stand have marks for Philippe Castel (active 1772–97), a painter of birds, ornaments, and landscapes, and for Henri-Martin Prévost (active 1757–97), a gilder (Eriksen and De Bellaigue 1987, 153 no. 22, no. 63, 158n22, 161n63; Savill 1988, 3:1013). SAM Online Object Collection, no. 2005.178.
This cup with décor chinois (chinoiserie décor) has a matching saucer, which is visible in another slide, the “Litron Cup and Saucer” (gobelet litron et soucoupe, 1778, slide 51b). This style of cup is known as a gobelet litron (litron cup), which has a distinctive, straight-sided, cylindrical shape, and was the most common form of teacup produced at the Sèvres factory. Find more on the litron cup on this page of the exhibit.
SAM Online Object Collection, no. 2005.179.
This Courteille Flower Vase (cuvette à fleurs Courteille, 1755–56, slide 10a) is notable for its painting of a maritime battle, a rare topic for Vincennes porcelain. It has been identified as the Battle of Solebay (1672), a conflict between the Dutch and an Anglo-French fleet: the flags on the ships to the left are Dutch (horizontal red, white, and blue stripes), while the ships to the right are flying the white flags of the French Royal Navy. This vase once belonged to Madame de Pompadour, and was on display as a centerpiece at her château in Saint-Ouen. Julie Emerson suggests that the cuvette, along with the other pieces that Pomadour displayed with it, represented “a glorious statement of French wealth and power.” Emerson credits Dr. Fritzsche himself for unearthing this object’s relation to Madame de Pompadour’s inventory, while the vase was part of his collection. The mark on the bottom is for Louis-Denis Armand aîné, who is believed to be the painter of both this scene and the trophy on the reverse (Emerson 2000, 148; Emerson 2007, 60–65, 66n16, 66n19; Fritzsche 2018, 7). For the reverse of this object, see Slide 10b. Read more about the bleu céleste (celestial blue) ground color on this vase here. Find a detailed essay about this object on this page. SAM Online Object Collection, no. 99.8.