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Sèvres porcelain factory

Table of the Great Commanders of Antiquity 1806-12

Hard-paste porcelain, gilt bronze mounts, internal wooden frame structure | 92.4 x 104 cm (whole object) | RCIN 2634

Blue Drawing Room, Buckingham Palace

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George IV, Studio of Sir Thomas Lawrence (RCIN 404933)

George IV by the studio of Sir Thomas Lawrence (RCIN 404933) ©

Known as the Table des Grands Capitaines de l’Antiquité, this table was commissioned by Napoleon in 1806 and was originally intended to form part of a set of four grand presentation tables designed to immortalise his reign. The top is made of hard-paste Sèvres porcelain; it took six years to complete and depicts military commanders of Ancient Rome and Greece. It combines some of the finest and most technically challenging work achieved by the factory in the early nineteenth century.

The table was given to George IV by a grateful Louis XVIII (1755–1824), two years after the defeat of Napoleon. So highly did George IV regard this gift that it became part of the ceremonial backdrop for all his state portraits (pictured here).