Saturday, May 12, 2018

Napoleon's Marly Rouge Service

Of course, when Marie-Antoinette ordered dishes it was considered decadent. From Architectural Digest:
It turns out the ill-fated emperor was something of a china fetishist, annoyed and inspired by the fact that Louis XVI had had a 445-piece Sevres service crafted for himself over a decade. The Sevres factory was actually a national manufactory, explains Jody Wilkie, cochairman worldwide of the Christie’s decorative arts department, so Napoleon, like other monarchs, began to use it upon his ascent to power as “his personal gift closet.” For himself, he commissioned a 256-piece dessert set with a brilliantly colored pattern called “Marly Rouge,” edged in iron red and adorned with delicate, detailed paintings of butterflies and, somewhat strangely, insects such as moths, ants, and bees.

Sevres records are meticulous and show its delivery October 7–18, 1809, to the palace of Fontainebleau. Historians know that the service was personally important to Napoleon because he had bothered, when he had changed travel plans to head to that hunting chateau, to have the new service delivered there instead. Perhaps it had sentimental value: It was that fall and in that place that the emperor told his wife of 13 years, Josephine, that he was divorcing her to marry an Austrian princess.

The Collection of Peggy and David Rockefeller contains 22 of the Marly Rouge pieces, the biggest tranche to hit the market in over a century. That’s about a tenth of the original set, which included a dazzling 188 plates alone, plus items such as sugar bowls decorated with dolphins on the feet or eagle heads. (Read more.)

No comments: