Wine & Glass Coolers


Wine Bottle Cooler (seau à bouteille) from Asturias Service, n.d., slide 49b

The Fritzsche Collection includes wine coolers from Vincennes and Sèvres in assorted sizes, which held a variety of bottles and glasses. The largest shape was the seau à bouteille (wine bottle cooler), for full-sized bottles of wine, as exemplified by the wine cooler in Slide 49b. This type of wine bottle cooler “would probably have remained mostly on a sideboard for footmen to access when filling glasses” (Huntington n.d., no. 27.52). The cooler in this image has a painter’s mark for Philippe Castel (active 1772–97), a painter of birds, ornaments, and landscapes (Savill 1988, 3:1013; Eriksen and De Bellaigue 1987, 153 no. 22, 158n22).


Half Wine Bottle Cooler (seau à demi-bouteille), n.d., slide 11a

The smaller size of cooler, as seen in Slide 11a, was known as the seau à demi-bouteille (half wine bottle cooler). It was intended to hold smaller bottles of wine, and to be “placed on the table within reach of diners so that they could serve themselves” (Huntington n.d., no. 27.52). Sassoon notes that the half wine bottle cooler was usually 16–17 cm. in height (1991, 154).


Wine Bottle Cooler (seau à bouteille) and Liqueur Decanter Cooler (seau à topette) from Asturias Service, n.d., slide 49a

The next size down, as seen to the left in Slide 49a, was the seau à topette, also known as a seau à liqueur (liqueur decanter cooler), which was meant to hold a decanter. These particular coolers are part of the Asturias Service, which was a gift from Louis XV to his granddaughter Marie Louise (Maria Luisa of Bourbon-Parma, 1751–1819), Princess of Asturias, later Queen of Spain. The marks on the decanter cooler include a hatchet mark, indicating the work of Pierre-Joseph Rosset (active 1753–90; Savill 1988, 3:1064), and a mark for Pierre aîné (active 1759–75; Eriksen and De Bellaigue 1987, 154 no. 110, 165n110).


Glass Cooler (seau à verre), n.d., slide 5b

The smallest size of cooler was the seau à verre (glass cooler), as seen in Slide 5b. This type of object was meant for cooling “an individual wine glass, bowl down” (Huntington n.d., no. 27.52). These small glass coolers became more popular over the course of the eighteenth century, as “the practice of having more intimate dinners with fewer servants” became more widespread (Roth and Le Corbeiller 2000, 266). The individual coolers allowed glasses to be kept on the table instead of on the sideboard, granting the guests more independence from the servants. A participant in one of the king’s courtly dinners noted: “Every guest has his glass in a cooler before him, and the water and wine are on the table” (Duc de Luynes, 1738, cited in ibid.).


Wine Bottle Cooler (seau à bouteille), 1758, slide 22a

The hunting scenes on this particular wine bottle cooler are believed to represent Louis XV on a stag hunt. They may have been inspired by Chasses royales de Louis XV (1733–46), a series of Gobelins tapestries designed by Jean-Baptiste Oudry (1686–1755) (Huntington n.d., no. 27.52; Fritzsche 2018). Find more information on these hunting scenes, and their relation to Oudry and Louis XV, on this page of the exhibit. An object very similar to this one is in the Huntington collection (no. 27.52).


Wine Bottle Cooler (seau à bouteille), n.d., slide 47

This type of wine bottle cooler with scallop-shaped handles, visible in slides 22a, 42a, and 47 on this page, “became the standard model used in the production of wine bottle coolers for the greater part of the century” (Huntington n.d., no. 27.52). On this particular cooler, the initials DB, formed from undulating branches and flower garlands, indicate that this was part of a service associated with Mme. Du Barry, mistress of Louis XV (Fritzsche 2018).


Two Wine Bottle Coolers (seaux à bouteille), n.d., slide 42a

These wine coolers were painted by Charles-Nicolas Dodin (1734–1803; active 1754–1802), a painter whose “meticulous technique” was “unrivalled” at the porcelain factory (Savill 1988, 3:1029–30). Read more on the pointillé décor of these coolers here.

References: Huntington n.d., no. 27.52; Sassoon 1991, 152–54; Eriksen and De Bellaigue 1987, 153 no. 22, 154 no. 110, 158n22, 165n110; Savill 1988, 3:1013, 1029–30, 1064; Fritzsche 2018; Roth and Le Corbeiller 2000, 254, 266.