Solitaire breakfast service
Imperial Porcelain Manufactory, Vienna
The Sèvres Manufactory was responsible for the introduction of luxury breakfast services for coffee, tea or hot chocolate, refined exotic beverages that were very popular during the 18th century and intended for the Courts and noble families. Stored in precious containers and in some cases even personalised with the recipient’s initials, these services were often used as gifts, as witnessed in a Sèvres Manufactory specimen sent by King Louis XV of France to Maria Theresa of Austria in 1758, on the occasion of the alliance formed between the two.
However, our déjeuner for a single person (solitaire) was probably inspired by a service also coming from the Sèvres Manufactory, but this time given as a gift on the occasion of the marriage in 1770 between Marie Antoinette Habsburg-Lorraine and the Dauphin of France, Louis XVI. It was taken as a model by the Imperial Manufactory, which, however, made variations to it. In particular, it applied the woven handle to the Hèrbert model cup made in 1752 and replaced the classic sugar bowl with a basket, since sugar was served in the form of lumps. The tray, on the other hand, retained a shape identifiable in either the plateau Duvaux or the Duplessis plateau, while the decoration can be traced back to the Viennese invention with blue bands enhancing the gold decorations, where floral motifs are also recognisable.
Although our specimen is noted in inventories from 1816 onwards, we can assume that it belonged to the Grand Duke Piero Leopold Habsburg-Lorraine. The proposed dating is in line with other similar services made by the Imperial Manufactory and with a renewed style that was to be implemented in 1784, during Conrad von Sorgenthal’s direction of the factory.