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The Art of Monarchy

A collaboration with BBC Radio 4 to mark Her Majesty The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee

Sèvres porcelain factory

Pot-pourri vase and cover (pot-pourri à vaisseau or pot-pourri en navire) 1758-59

Soft-paste porcelain, bleu lapis and green ground overlaid with gilded œil-de-perdrix decoration, further gilding and gilt bronze | 55.1 x 37.8 x 19.3 cm (whole object) | RCIN 2360

Green Drawing Room, Buckingham Palace

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Of all the European porcelain factories of the eighteenth century none was more synonymous with luxury and taste as the French royal factory at Sèvres, outside Paris. Every year the factory launched its newest models at a preview in the King’s apartments at Versailles, and no model was more artistically or technically accomplished than this example. Only ten versions are known today, such was the difficulty and expense of firing and decorating so sophisticated and ambitious a design. The model, known as ‘vase pot-pourri à vaisseau’ resembles a ship, and allowed the perfume of the pot-pourri placed inside to waft out through the perforated lid.

This example, its reserve decorated with a scene derived from a painting by the highly popular artist David Teniers, was once the property of Madame de Pompadour, mistress of Louis XV and a great patron of the arts. It was first recorded in the British Royal Collection in 1826, and had probably been acquired by George IV.