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Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2014

The Essex service


Creator: Sèvres porcelain factory (porcelain manufacturer)
Creation Date: 
1764 - 1770
Materials and techniques: 
Soft paste porcelain, bleu céleste ground and gilded decoration
FP II.152
Acquirer: George IV, King of the United Kingdom (1762-1830)
Recorded in 1826 in the Confectionary, Carlton House: ‘No. 130. A Dessert Service of light blue and gold Seve Porcelain, (‘A Dessert Service of light blue and gold Seve Porcelain’ purchased of Lord Essex.)

Painted in polychrome with flowers and fruit: the flowers include roses, anemones (some double-headed), tulips, convolvulus, honeysuckle, oriental poppies, asters, auriculas, viburnum, cornflowers, hops, etc.; the fruit includes grapes, plums, pomegranates, peaches, figs, rosehips, redcurrants, gooseberries, etc. The gilding is formed principally of looped laurel garlands and wreaths, the former accompanied by crossed myrtle branches and the latter entwined with myrtle trails.

The Earl of Essex, from whom George IV purchased this service, was most probably, the 5th Earl, George Capel-Coningsby (1757-1839), a friend of George IV, with whom he shared political views and artistic tastes in the 1780s and 1790s. He belonged to the fashionable francophile coterie which had close links with the equally fashionable anglophile society in Paris, whose standard-bearer was the duc de Chartres. In 1784 we even find the duc de Chartres, at the behest of George IV, doing Lord Malden (the Earl’s courtesy title before he succeeded) a service. It is perhaps significant in this context that in 1816 Mr Fogg, almost certainly the dealer Robert Fogg who sold George IV numerous works of art, was stated to be the ‘agent of the Earl of Essex’ in the Customs House records in January 1816.

65 pieces: 34 plates, 2 round fruit dishes, 2 oval fruit dishes, 4 shell-shaped fruit dishes, 2 sugar bowls, 7 ice-cream cups, 2 round trays, 4 heart-shaped trays, 2 trays with attached jam pots, 2 bottle coolers, 4 half-size bottle coolers.

Text adapted from French Porcelain: In the Collection of Her Majesty The Queen, London, 2009

Measurements: Plates .1–.34 2.5 to 3.0 x 24.5 to 24.9, .1–.2 round fruit dishes 4.0 to 4.2 x 22.5 to 22.6, oval fruit dishes .1–.2 4.0 to 4.3 x 27.1 to 27.4 x 19.1 to 19.6, shell-shaped fruit dishes .1-.4 5.5 to 6.0 x 21.9 to 22.4 x 22.1 to 22.0, sugar bowls .1–.2 10.9 to 11.0 x 23.5 to 23.6 x 14.9 to 15.3, ice-cream cups .1–.7 6.4 to 6.6 x 7.0 to 7.5 x 5.7 to 6.0, round trays 3.3 to 3.6 x 23.1, heart-shaped trays .1–.4 3.2 to 3.9 x 20.8 to 21.1 x 20.8 to 21.2, trays with attached pots .1–.2 9.1 x 24.6 to 25.2 x 17.5 to 17.8, bottle coolers .1–.2 18.5 to 18.6 x 26.0 to 26.5 x 20.5 to 20.9, half-size bottle coolers .1–.4 16.7 to 17.0 x 22.7 to 23.0 x 18.0 to 18.2 cm

Further details

Additional Creators: French (nationality)
Robert Fogg (c. 1761-1823) (dealer)
François Binet (active 1750-75) (porcelain painter)
Edmé-François (Étienne) Bouillat, (active 1758-1810)
(porcelain painter)
Dominique Joffroy (active 1754-70) (porcelain painter)
Jacques-François-Louis de Laroche, (active 1759-1801) (porcelain painter)
Jean-Nicolas Le Bel le jeune père (active 1773-93) (porcelain painter)
Denis Levé (active 1754-1805) (porcelain painter)
Charles-Louis Mereaud (Mereau, Mereux, Meraud) le jeune (active 1756-80) (porcelain painter)
Jacques-François Micaud (active 1757-1810) (porcelain painter)
Niquet (Nicquet) (active 1764-92) (porcelain painter)