Sèvres (French), A Pair of Monteiths, 1761

2017 004 001 002 V0001 450Sèvres (French), A Pair of Monteiths, 1761, soft-paste porcelain, 5.5 x 11.75 x 8 inches. Acquired with funds provided by the Virginia A. Marten Endowment for Decorative Arts, 2017.004.001-002

Monteiths, or seaux crenellés, are basins filled with ice or cold water into which wine glasses were submerged, placed upside down with the foot of the glass resting in the notches in order to chill them. Monteiths originated in England in the 1680s and were made out of metal. They are called “Monteiths” after a Scot by the name of Monteigh who apparently wore a coat, the bottom of which was cut into a repeating U-shaped pattern. Monteiths were part of larger dessert services made for a discriminating clientele. Louis XV was especially fond of this particular design, and he gave several services away as diplomatic gifts to foreign dignitaries and leaders.


Louis XV became the principal shareholder of the Sèvres Porcelain Manufactory where scores of chemists, craftsman, designers, and artists were employed to produce luxury wares for the tables of European nobility. This innovative rococo design called bleu lapis caillouté (pebbled) was the result of fierce competition between Sèvres and its Saxon counterpart in Meissen to be the most “cutting edge” decorators on the continent. Each reserve is delicately painted with a unique floral or fruit still life by Dominique Joffroy (French, active 1753–70).


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