Vincennes green-ground ewer and basin, circa 1757

Vincennes green-ground ewer and basin, circa 1757
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This mid 18th century ewer and basin are believed to have belonged to Frederick St.John, 2nd Viscount Bolingbroke (1732-1787), a renowned collector of fine porcelain. They were sold at Bonhams of London in 2014.

Bonhams have kindly allowed us to reproduce the commentary from their catalogue:

'A Pot 'à l'eau la Boissière' and jatte 'ovale à bord de relief', the inside and outside of the basin reserved with four gilt floral and foliate cartouches enclosing large flower sprays, the rim moulded with relief flowers and gilt scrollwork, the ewer reserved with a similar cartouche enclosing flowers and fruit, the green ground with gilt-edged wave-like moulding, the jug: 18.6cm high, the basin: 31.8cm across, interlaced LL monogram in blue enclosing indistinct date letter, probably D (basin restored, restored chip to ewer) (2)


The pieces were ordered by Lazare Duvaux. There is a possibility they were then purchased by Frederick, 3rd Viscount St. John, 2nd Viscount Bolingbroke (1734-1787), Lydiard Park, Wiltshire.

The model of the ewer was actually sometimes called a broc 'Roussel', but a drawing in the Sèvres archives, dated 19 February 1753, designates it as a pot 'à l'eau la Boissière' (Rosalind Savill, The Wallace Collection Catalogue of Sèvres Porcelain, vol. II (1988), p. 697).

Sixteen basins of the shape jatte 'ovale à bord de relief' are listed in the Sèvres sales records between June 1754 and December 1758. Fourteen were matched with a broc 'Roussel', one with a broc 'feuille d'eau' and another survives with a pot 'à l'eau la Boissière' (Savill, vol. II (1988), p. 700). All, except for the most expensive (given by Louis XV to the Empress Maria-Theresa), were purchased by Lazare Duvaux. The set with the pot 'à l'eau la Boissière' is of the right shape, but the decoration described is that of a turquoise-blue-ground painted with children (now in the Château de Thoiry), whereas the set with the broc 'feuille d'eau' is of the right decoration (a green ground and flowers), but the ewer is not specifically of the right shape. However, as the decoration does have the motif known as 'feuille d'eau' within its design, it could possibly have been called that within the sales records. The records also mention another ewer and basin set with a green ground and flowers, consisting of a pot 'à l'eau' and an unspecified basin, purchased by Duvaux at the same time. Either may well have been the set in this lot.

Duvaux's records from December 1757 state that 'Un broc dans sa jatte ovale, à fleurs en relief, fond vert peint à fleurs dans les cartouches' [green ground painted with cartouches of flowers] was purchased by Lord Bolingbroke. Rosalind Savill has connected this entry with the before-mentioned jatte and broc 'feuille d'eau' with a green ground and flowers (Savill, vol.II (1988), p.700). Due to the 'feuille d'eau'' decoration on the ewer and the existing combination of shapes used for the pieces in the Château de Thoiry, there is a definite possibility that the set in this lot was formerly in the collection of the 2nd Viscount Bolingbroke.'

c. 1757
Bonhams Ref: Lot 291, Auction 21958
Bonhams of London
Last updated on:
Tuesday 15th August 2023

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