Square Openwork Tea Service (déjeuner carré à jour)


Square Openwork Tea Service (déjeuner carré à jour), 1761, slide 27

Sèvres teasets that included a matching tray were called déjeuners, a term that came into common use by 1756. Madame de Pompadour was particularly fond of square teasets (déjeuners carrés) and was one of the most frequent purchasers of them; other examples were bought by Madame Victoire, the Dauphine (Savill 1988, 2:587). A particularly luxurious example is the “Square Openwork Tea Service" (déjeuner carré à jour, 1761, slide 27), which consists of a teacup and a matching square tray.

Square trays were being produced by 1753, but this particular type, called a plateau carré à jour (square openwork tray) is a variant first produced in 1757, and is characterized by a “raised wall pierced with Vitruvian scrolls and bellflowers” (Sassoon 1991, 36). When created as a set with matching teacup, such a tray was termed a déjeuner carré à jour (square openwork tea service).


Eriksen and De Bellaigue regard this use of a continuous Vitruvian scroll border as “one of the first unmistakable signs of the incipient classical revival at Sèvres” (1987, 306, no. 118). The Vitruvian scroll is “an ancient decorative form of continuous wave-like scrolls based on architectural motifs found in the work of the Roman architect Vitruvius…. It is believed that when Étienne-Maurice Falconet was made head of the factory’s sculpture studio in that year, he introduced such classical motifs to the decorative repertory” (Roth and Le Corbeiller 2000, 207). This same pattern of Vitruvian scrolls interspersed with bellflowers appears on numerous other objects such as furniture mounts and snuff-boxes.


Mark for Square Openwork Tea Service, slide 27_Mark

Both the tray and cup have a painter’s mark for Louis-Jean Thévenet, also known as Thévenet père, who was one of the “most skilled flower-painters” of his era (Eriksen and De Bellaigue 1987, 96).

References: Savill 1988, 2:491, 2:585, 2:587, 3:1071; Sassoon 1991, 36; Arend 1998, 24; Eriksen and De Bellaigue 1987, 96, 306; Roth and Le Corbeiller 2000, 207.