Originally published in Discovering the Secrets of Soft-Paste Porcelain at the Saint-Cloud Manufactory, ca. 1690-1766, edited by Bertrand Rondo. Published for The Bard Graduate Center for the Studies in the Decorative Arts, New York. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1999. 97–111.

When the Meissen porcelain manufactory was founded in 1710, its products were not made from hard-paste porcelain but rather from a stoneware, which was nonetheless called brown or red porcelain in contemporary documents. White porcelain was achieved in 1708 in experiments in a laboratory in Dresden, and the discovery of a satisfactory glaze soon followed. But it was not until 1713 that Meissen brought its true porcelain to market and the production of the stoneware body probably ceased. The formula for an acceptable underglaze blue also required several years of experimentation, after an initial success in 1714, and was not in routine use until the 1720s. Until the arrival of Johann Gregorius Höroldt (1696–1775) in 1720, other forms of decoration apart from molded ornament were executed outside the factory, in the goldsmiths’ workshops in Dresden and Augsburg, or by the court lacquerers in Dresden. Nonetheless, by the 1730s, with improvements to the paste and glaze, the introduction of a range of enamel colors and ground colors, and the artistic direction of Höroldt and, later, the modeler Johann Joachim Kändler (1706–1775), Meissen assumed leadership of the European ceramics industry. It only yielded this position after the disruptions of the Seven Years War (1756–63), in the face of competition from a number of new porcelain manufactories, which likewise contributed to the demise of Saint-Cloud.1

A consideration of the connections and parallels between Meissen and Saint-Cloud should not be limited to the period 1713–66, however. Whether there is a connection between the visit of Ehrenfried Walter von Tschirnhaus (1651–1708) to the manufactory in Saint­Cloud in 1701 and the discovery of the arcanum at Meissen in 1708, for example, is a tantalizing question, given Tschirnhaus’s summary opinion that the French concern would ultimately fail:

12. At Saint-Cloud I bought various pieces in the porcelain manufactory. Afterwards, however, they fell apart by themselves, because a lot of salt is used in the composition. They offer it at an expensive price, much higher than that of good porcelain, hence the sales are quite poor.

The oven and the machines for grinding were the best, although they were not perfect, as they should be. Otherwise, everything else was familiar to me. The blue color that he uses is far too dark black. In sum, I think this manufactory will fail.2

Tschirnhaus was an eminent roving scientist and mathematician in the circle of Leibniz, Homberg, and Huygens. He made four research trips to leading European cities between 1675 and 1702. His primary interest was in the use of optic lenses for the fusion of minerals. Curious about whether it would be possible to create porcelain by the same means, he was already in pursuit of the arcanum in 1677 when he wrote to Leibniz from Rome about his visit with the Milanese scientist and mathematician Manfredo Settala (1600–1680), who claimed to know the secret of porcelain manufacturing.3 This quest led Tschirnhaus eventually to Saint-Cloud and, at the end of his life, to the alchemist Johann Friedrich Böttger (1682–1719), whom he served as mentor and technical advisor as much as friend and protector. Tschirnhaus was one of two men entrusted with the arcanum for the porcelain invented in 1708, but he died within the year. So he stands in the shadow of Böttger, who is alone credited with its invention.

The young Tschirnhaus resided with Jean Baptiste Colbert (1619–1683), minister of finance, on his first visit to Paris in 1675, while serving as tutor to Colbert’s son. This auspicious situation must have exposed him to the Manufacture royale des Meubles de la Couronne, which Colbert had established in 1667. Tschirnhaus returned to Paris in 1679 and again in 1682, when he was named the first German member of the French Academy of Science, a distinction cited in the Mercure galant.4 Tschirnhaus was eventually retained by the governor (Statthalter) of· Saxony, Anton Egon Fürst von Fürstenberg (1656–1716). He made one last trip abroad in the fall and winter of 1701–2 to assess the market for Saxon goods and industries in Holland and France.5 A series of detailed observations on the state of various foreign industries and manufactures compiled for the governor in March 1702, including the report on Saint-Cloud, show that industrial espionage was one of the primary aims of the mission.

Before arriving in Paris in 1701, Tschirnhaus visited Amsterdam and The Hague to observe the cut-stone polishing and mirror-making industries in these cities. He encountered a man named Schüller who impressed him with a report of a porcelain decorator in Breslau (now Wrocław, Poland)6:

4. Because of the marble and precious stones, I have made the acquaintance of such men in every place through samples that I brought along. Especially because of them, I conferred with Claes van Loenen, Monsieur Metselaer and many other architects. The samples pleased them greatly, and they are willing to send them to people who inspect everything very carefully themselves. If certain marble pieces are suitable for them, they will pay for them right away, as people used to do in Italy.

5. Next I carefully observed a certain machine and learned its construction and use. With it, 24 marble stones from containers on the ground can be polished at the same time. In a similar manner, the machine can make small mirrors of a yard in size, which are quite in demand in Nuremberg.

6. I also spoke with a someone named Schüller who was from Breslau and has been known here for a long time. I revealed all these things to him. This man has received very many commissions of great importance from Germany, and, among other things, he spoke to me of a common man who lives not far from Breslau and who can paint quite beautifully on porcelain. Then he showed me some very beautiful pieces, which the Dutch had liked so much that they wanted to pay a lot of money in order to have him in Delft. I hope he will be of service to me in my porcelain plan.7

A stop in Delft, which was, beginning in the 1670s, the leading center of European ceramic production until the rise of Meissen, allowed Tschirnhaus to observe the so-called “Dutch porcelain” workshops:

I went to Delft and made myself carefully familiar with their so-called porcelain workshops. I especially learned how they glaze, how they stoke their kilns so that nothing clings to what is being fired, or also how nothing becomes impure during the firing. These things are quite unknown in our land.8

When Tschirnhaus at last arrived in Paris, the duc d’Aumont supplied him with several introductions that gave him access to the royal workshops in the Gobelins,9 among others:

In addition, I was also at Gobelins, where mosaic tables and panels are made. Works of such beauty and value cannot be seen in other places. They use a lot of our Saxon jasper for them. When I showed them the samples that I had brought with me, they wanted them very much and just complained that now the king would display such a bad desire for more of the same.

13. In the Fauxbourg St. Antoine is the large mirror manufactory.10 Everywhere in twos I saw people painting everything quite well, grinding, polishing, beating foil, coating mirrors, or cutting facets. If one knew nothing beforehand, he would be able to learn everything here. Without written permission, one is not allowed inside, and it is not shown to everyone. But I got in, before my arrival in Paris was very well known, through speaking to the right person and a little tip. There are over 600 persons constantly working here, and in addition, the buildings are so extensive, that one has to call this a very large establishment. The largest mirrors are 3 yards and a few inches. Not many of them are made, however, because they are often ruined in the manufacture. Most mirrors are somewhat over two yards. But the glass is quite poor, of a very dark green color. In my modest estimation, everything is not at all the same, neither the expense, the quality of the glass, the size, nor the ease of manufacturing. And according to the few persons who are required for it, it is actually not the same as that which one everywhere here intends….

15. At Challion11 I saw the fine manufactory which makes Persian carpets several times, and I took along a sample from it, as well as a description of everything that was made there.12

16. I was also very attentive to the work which is now so much in fashion in France. It is called marquetry, and many desks, cabinets and other things are made of it. I took along a sample of it.13

Tschirnhaus likewise toured Versailles and Marly before leaving Paris, paying special attention to the crystal chandeliers and porcelain collection in the Trianon de Marbre and the waterworks at Marly14:

17. I was once again at Versailles, in order to examine the crystal chandeliers very carefully, which the first time had not been possible. I was also at the Trianon because of the lovely porcelain and at Marly to see the curious water machine.15

Paris was also an important stop for the crown princes of Saxony during their respective Kavalierstours. While it is not recorded that either Friedrich August I or his son visited the ceramics manufactory located in Saint-Cloud, nor are they known to have received gifts of porcelain from the French king, nevertheless both young men were exposed to situations and settings that would certainly develop an awareness and taste for French products and decoration. Friedrich August I (1670–1733), later known as Augustus the Strong, made two stops in Paris during his three-year tour, traveling incognito as the comte de Leising (according to some sources, “Leißnigk”).16 He left Dresden with a small entourage on May 11, 1687, and arrived in Paris on June 11 for his first three-month stay. His time there consisted of events appropriate to the education of a prince and heir to the throne, and so he attended the “Academie” where lectures alternated with “Exercitia,” physical training such as fencing and riding. Of equal importance were the visits and entertainments at the royal residences in and around Paris. He visited Saint-Cloud on several occasions and resided there from June 21 until July 1. He also traveled to Versailles almost weekly and was so influenced by what he saw that it inspired his initiatives in Dresden twenty years later.17 The prince left Paris for Spain and Portugal on September 19 and returned a year later for a second stay that was cut short by the outbreak of the War of the League of Augsburg (1688–97).18 He departed hastily via Strasbourg, and from there he made his way to England, Holland, Denmark, Sweden, and Italy before returning to Dresden on April 8, 1689.19

Friedrich August II (1696–1763), later Augustus III, spent ten months in Paris, from September 1714 to June 1715. He also traveled incognito, as the comte de Lusace, during an extensive journey that lasted for seven years due in part to the issues attending his conversion to Catholicism.20 The arrangements for this part of his tour were overseen by the duchesse d’Orleans, who assured the prince’s father that she would treat the prince as a son.21 Accordingly, he enjoyed every imaginable diversion and entertainment:

Extract from Dispatch #32 from Mr. de Suhm, Fontainebleau, October 11, 1714.

Since my last letter, Monsieur le Comte de Lusace has been treated ceaselessly to Concerts, banquets, Hunting Expeditions, and Promenades; last Sunday the Most Christian King arranged a performance of Music on the Canal for him, which He heard in a specially prepared Gondola, and the King with his entire Court rode around the Canal in Carriages and on Horseback, in such great numbers and with such an assemblage of people, that the Spectacle was beautiful beyond compare.22

He attended the operas and comedies staged by members of the court:

Extract from Dispatch #42 from Mr. de Suhm, Paris, December 21, 1714.

The other Day the Princesse de Conty had the Comédie Italienne perform at her Townhouse for Monseigneur le Comte de Lusace; there was Music, and Scenes of Shepherds and Shepherdesses, and Dances and Ballets between the Acts.23

And in return, the prince hosted a masked ball for Carneval:

Extract from Dispatch #50 from Mr. de Suhm, Paris, February 22, 1715.

The Ball which Monseigneur le Comte de Lusace hosted the other day was approved by all, there were more than 10 Masques, and “la grande Saule” and the press notwithstanding, everybody left thoroughly content, and there were no disturbances or incidents of any sort, it lasted until 10 o’clock in the morning, and would have gone on for all of the next day had it not been necessary (for it was Sunday) to send away the violinists.24

His stay in Paris coincided with the visits of the electors of Cologne and of Bavaria, who honored the prince with a dinner at Saint-Cloud.25

In the company of the king, the prince indulged his passion for hunting in the various royal parks, enjoyed the fountains at Marly and Versailles, and attended the audience of the Persian embassy on January 19 at Versailles.26 And on May 28, at Marly, he took formal leave of the king, who presented him with a jeweled sword:

Extract from Dispatch #63 from Mr. de Suhm, Paris, May 31, 1715.

On the 28th of the Month, Monseigneur le Comte de Lusace was at Marly to take his leave of the Most Christian King after having dined at the Residence of Monsieur le Marquis de Torey,27 he went into the “Cabinet” of the king to pay him a fine Compliment, His Majesty did the same in return and Stayed with him for quite some time, and give Him from His own hand a beautiful and magnificent Sword, estimated to be worth fifty million Ecus, and then He embraced Him and dismissed Him; His Majesty’s actions on this occasion were so full of affection and so gracious that all who witnessed them were charmed. Thence Monsgr. le Comte de Lusace took his Leave of Madame la Duchesse de Berry, of Madame, of Monsr. and Madame la Duchesse d ‘Orleans, and of other princesses; Madame la Duchesse de Berry prepared a Game for Him at the Salon over which She presides, then invited Him for a walk accompanied by all the Women, and the various Fountains were set flowing as She led Him around, they went to meet the king at the Pall-Mall, and returned to the Salon to play, and Monsgr. le Comte de Lusace then left and went for the night to Versailles where the Next Morning He took his Leave of Monsieur le Dauphin and then saw the Waterworks at Versailles and Trianon, then that Night back to Paris, and shortly thereafter he departed to make a tour of the Kingdom.28

On his departure from Paris for Spain in mid-June, the prince was a guest of the prince de Condé at Chantilly, whose gardens and forests he termed “une des merveilles de la France.”29

Unlike his father, however, Friedrich August II was not passionate about porcelain, and it is uncertain what sorts of souvenirs and gifts the prince was collecting in Paris, apart from what is noted above. Augustus the Strong, on the other hand, made his most important acquisitions of Chinese blue-and-white porcelain during his son’s long absence from Saxony. He also embarked on the acquisition and furnishing of the Japanese Palace, where the marriage of the Crown Prince to Archduchess Maria Josepha (1699–1757) was celebrated with a lavish state dinner and fireworks over the Elbe in 1719. The king particularly favored blue-and-white ceramics, as had Louis XIV and the Dauphin.30 He generally purchased porcelain through agents in Paris or Amsterdam, or bought from the foreign dealers who operated in Dresden, with names such as Bassetouche, Valentin, Konspruck, and de Croogh, showing France and Holland to be the source for these pieces as well.31 More remarkable was the exchange in 1717 of an elite regiment of 600 soldiers for 151 pieces of Chinese porcelain from the Prussian royal collection, including the large blue­-and-white vases referred to today as Dragoon vases.32 The collections of the king’s ministers and courtiers enriched the royal holdings as well on various occasions.33

In 1722, 804 pieces of porcelain entered the Japanese Palace from the bequest of Daniel Friedrich Raschke (d.1722), a Saxon cabinet minister who resided in Amsterdam in 1708 and 1709 and presumably formed the collection of ceramics, Chinese carvings, and lacquerwares left as a bequest to the king during his stay in that city.34 In the valuation compiled after Raschke’s death, one entry describes three pieces as French porcelain: “1. Spice box with lid, inside four compartments; in addition, two salt cellars of French porcelain that belong with it.”35

When these pieces were entered into the catalogue of the Japanese Palace begun in 1721, the Inventarium über das Hollandische Palais zu Alt-Dreßden or Inventarium über das Palais zu Alt-Dreßden Anno 1721 (hereafter Inventarium…1721)36, they were instead classified as Meissen (“Sächsisch”) porcelain and described as follows:

Number 72. A blue and white round spice box. The lid has the same colors with a cleanly painted knob. 2 ½ inches high; 4 ¾ inches in diameter.

Number 73. 2 round gadrooned saltcellars. 2 inches high; 3 ½ inches wide.37

The saltcellars have been lost. As described they must be Saint-Cloud models comparable to two in the exhibition (see cat. nos. 62 and 63). The spice box has survived and was attributed in 1992 to Saint-Cloud, but because it bears the mark A.P., it has been reattributed to the short-lived manufactory operated by Antoine Pavie.38

When the odd piece of French porcelain came to Dresden by way of Holland, or perhaps directly from Paris, it entered the company of the wares from Asia or from Meissen, and any connection to France was effectively lost. Clearly Raschke was aware of the French origin of his pieces, as was the individual who compiled the valuation, but the persons responsible for registering the pieces in Dresden had to conform to the existing classifications of the Inventarim … 1721 which recognized only the following ceramic categories:39

Japanese porcelain; “krack” porcelain; white Chinese porcelain; green Chinese porcelain; red Chinese porcelain40; blue and white East-Indian porcelain; white Saxon porcelain; brown Saxon porcelain; terra sigillata; black porcelain41; Delft ware; clay vessels for the most part painted by Raphael Urbino.42

French porcelain, like Dutch redwares and even Chinese Yixing ware, could not be categorized within the confines of the system already in place and were therefore alternatively classified to fit in.43 The distinctions between pieces that appeared outwardly to be alike were essentially irrelevant in the context of the porcelain rooms where ceramics of all sort were exhibited in massed arrangements according to color and design. This seemingly loose approach to classification was typical of the period, in Dresden and elsewhere.

An early but unmarked Saint-Cloud ewer arrived in Dresden before the Raschke pieces, though its provenance is unknown.44 It was listed in the Inventarium … 1721 under “Blau und Weiß, Indianisch Porcelain” in the chapter devoted to tea- and coffee­wares: “Number 184. Another of the same. 7 inches high and 4 inches in diameter.”45 The preceding entry lists nine jugs of similar form: “Number 183. 9 oval, round milk jugs with pinched spouts and handles. 7 inches high and 4 inches in diameter.”46 When two jugs from the group of nine were sold from the Dresden collection in 1920, the entries and illustrations in the sale-catalogue showed them to be Chinese and not French.47 The differences in the scale and pattern of the underglaze-blue decoration probably caused the French piece to receive its own individual number and entry.

One final example of Saint-Cloud porcelain is found today in the Porzellansammlung, but it lacks a royal inventory number. It must therefore have entered the Dresden collections too late to be included in the eighteenth-century inventories. A trembleuse saucer lacking its cup, it appears to be en suite to a teapot in the Musée national de Céramique at Sèvres which is painted with the same mark.48

Although Saint-Cloud porcelain is scarcely known in early German collections, it was obviously a princely treasure, as demonstrated by the situation in Dresden and elsewhere.49 Schloß Favorite, for example, was a summer palace built around 1710 by Augustus the Strong’s contemporary, the margravine Sibylla Augusta (1675–1733), for the display of her renowned ceramics collection. The factory is represented there, however, by only four mustard pots (comparable to cat. nos. 72 and 73) and a set of cutlery handles decorated with strapwork in underglaze blue, despite the fact that the margravine’s daughter married Louis II (1703–1752), duc d’Orléans, successor to the patron of the manufactory.50 A relatively larger group of “St. Clous” [sic] porcelain appears in the 1738 inventory of Monbijou, summer residence of Sophie Dorothea (d. 1757), the mother of Frederick the Great:

Of white porcelain from St.-Clous [sic]
A tureen with a cover and two handles.
A tureen without a cover, but with two handles.
Two of the same but smaller.
Another two of the same, somewhat smaller.
Two small soup bowls.
Two small beakers with feet.
Two tall cups with lids.
Two saltcellars.
A small jug with a lid.
A soup bowl with lid and plate.
A lamp.51

None of the pieces from this group are known to have survived in Berlin, and their provenance is undetermined. If they were entirely white, as described, they must be among the earliest of the manufactures from Saint-Cloud of this style.

Even though it was rarely imported into Germany, Saint-Cloud porcelain was acknowledged and praised by the notable chronicler Johann Christian Kundmann in a report on the state of the ceramics industry in Europe published in Leipzig and Breslau in 1723, in the Sammlung von Natur- und Medicin-, wie auch hierzu gehörigen Kunst­ und Literatur-geschichten. Kundmann possessed an unusual awareness of Tschirnhaus’s role at Meissen and of the history of developments there and elsewhere, probably gleaned from published accounts as opposed to first-hand experience:

Nowhere, as far as I know, has East-Indian porcelain been better imitated in Europe until now than at St.-Cloud, which is near Paris. The vessels are quite thin, transparent and sonorous, a lovely white, nicely painted with light and dark blue, and so hard that their surface can strike like oriental fire and cut glass; outside of that, it is supposed to be subject to breakage. At this time Baron Bötticher revealed his method to the famous Tschirnhausen in Dresden, of how one could make a porcelain similar to the Chinese. Tschirnhausen made this kind of porcelain from some washed, ash-colored soil that he had recently received from a good friend. His vessels are whiter or milkier, also somewhat more opaque, but in hardness they are supposed to exceed genuine porcelain, because their manner is much better, the exquisite decoration with gold much higher, and the sublime figures much more special. But the gold-leaf coating is more for display than to last; on Oriental porcelain, in contrast, which has gold painted onto it, the coating lasts. In the beginning this porcelain was left entirely white, as the Chinese did long ago, before they invented color. For the last five or six years, it has been painted blue by Herr Kohler, but not with indigo, as some authors report of the Indian wares, for it is impossible for the juice of a vegetable to survive the strong fire and still be able to produce a blue color. Instead of indigo, the finest smalt has been used. Thus P. d ‘Entrecolle thought along the same lines in the report of a hard stone given beforehand. According to it, the most beautiful blue in China is brought to porcelain painting through roasting, which without doubt has to be nothing other than an ore that contains cobalt. I still want to report about the Dresden porcelain. Now, the coarse sand is not washed as carefully from the clay as in the beginning. This gives the porcelain sand kernels that are glasslike or slightly opaque and causes a lot of breakage. In Vienna, a beautiful, similar porcelain is supposedly being produced using clay from Debreczin in Upper Hungary. If this porcelain is not preferred to that from Dresden, it is, however, certainly to be given an equal attention. All of this porcelain can especially in Dresden but also here be artistically painted over and the colors fired in. In Breslau, Herr Peussler only made gray in gray or black painting; but now Herr Pottengruber produces all assorted colors, and indeed with a perfection that has never before been seen…. In Delft, to be sure, all sorts of vessels have been produced for years that to external appearance look rather similar to genuine porcelain; but that is actually just the effect of the glazing, for internally it is just clay, which has neither tone nor transparency…52

Typically, Meissen based its early manufacures on models supplied by artists attached to the bourt of borrow from the royal collections in Dresden. Even if it were possible to locate further evidence of Saint-Cloud porcelain in the Inventarium…1721, it is doubtful that any of this small group made it to Meissen for copying. Nonetheless, among the underglaze-blue decoration produced at Meissen in the 1720s and even later, certain Chinese motifs and lappets or borders of scrollwork ornament could be demonstrated to be similar to Saint-Cloud decoration of around 1700.53

This is chiefly a coincidence arising from the development in Dresden of an informed French taste as a result of the crown princes’ and their agents’ and ministers’ exposure to the court of Louis XIV. It was also due to the influence of the many French artists brought to Dresden by Augustus the Strong and his son, such as Raymond LePlat, Louis de Silvestre (1675–1760), François Coudray (1678–1727), and Zacharias Longuelune (1669–1748).54 Thus, the same sorts of Chinese porcelains, or models in silver, that influenced Saint-Cloud production directed to the French court became fashionable in Dresden a generation later. This taste was probably sustained in the interim by the products of the faience industry in Delft and the silversmiths in Augsburg, until it surfaced in Dresden in the work of the court goldsmith, Johann Jacob Irminger (d. 1721), and the court lacquerer, Martin Schnell (ca. 1675–1740), and at the faience manufactory founded in 1708 under the direction of Peter Eggebrecht (d. 1738), one of two Dutch-trained painters lured early on to Meissen.55 Perhaps the sole instance of Meissen imitating Saint-Cloud are the Meissen cutlery handles decorated with delicate lacework in underglaze blue, sometimes traced over the glaze in iron red, yellow, and green enamels. But the market for cutlery handles was apparently enormous, given the numbers of these pieces that were produced at Saint-Cloud and at Meissen, and the taste for this sort of ornament on porcelain handles seems to have been common among patrons in France and in Germany.56

In rare instances, design initiatives first employed at Meissen can be found on Saint-Cloud porcelain. The masks on certain Saint-Cloud jugs and wine coolers are close in concept to the classical masks introduced at Meissen during the Böttger period—on vases or teapots designed by Irminger and Le Plat, for example. Some are serene visages with feather headdresses, and others are quite animated, with wild hair and gaping mouths. The affinity between white Saint-Cloud pieces manufactured in the 1740s and 1750s and the white wares of the earlier Böttger-period at Meissen (1713–19) seems natural. Both manufactories followed the example of blanc-de-chine porcelain and developed molded decoration that was free from enameling, moving quickly from Chinese models to stylized chinoiserie patterns and European-style ornament based on contemporary silver or on the enduring designs of certain influential artists and designers. At Meissen around 1720, molded ornament temporarily gave way to flat surfaces suitable for painting.

But with Kandler’s arrival in 1731, molded ornament and sculptural details began to dominate again, especially in a series of commissions for members of the court that may have elicited notice in France. The long-necked birds and vegetation in low-relief on certain Saint-Cloud tablewares, for example, recall the subject and design of the molded pattern devised for the famous Swan Service commissioned for Heinrich Graf von Brühl and his wife around 1736. Likewise, the garlands of European flowers that appear on Saint-Cloud potpourri correspond very closely to the modeled flower-work introduced at Meissen around 1735–37 on the breakfast service made for Princess Wilhelmine of Prussia, goddaughter of Augustus the Strong; on the porcelain coffer created for his wife; and on the altar garniture commissioned for his mother-in-law, the widowed Empress Wilhelmine Amalie of Austria.57

Meissen porcelain could be produced in models and sizes, and with fine molding and enamel colors, that were beyond the capabilities of the French porcelain industry until after the middle of the century, so there was a ready market in France for Meissen wares, but in shapes and styles specifically suited to French needs or to the requirements of the marchands-merciers. The demand for toilette articles, in particular, including pomade jars, écuelles, ewers, and cups with covers, initiated a range of models not typical of production for the court or local markets in Saxony and its bordering states at that period.58 Models unknown in Meissen porcelain, such as potpourri vases and candelabrum,were invented by the French marchands-merciers using simple figures and containers from Meissen, and they were often mounted in combination with Vincennes flowers to appeal to an elite clientele.59

Rudolf Lemaire was the first French merchant to hold the monopoly for the sale of Meissen porcelain in France and Holland. He ordered copies of over two hundred pieces of porcelain, mostly Japanese wares, from the royal collection in the Japanese Palace beginning in 1729.60 The fashion for artichoke-shaped toilet pots in France, so obvious in the products of the Saint-Cloud manufactory between 1730 and 1750, probably inspired the production of covered beakers with saucers and small bowls “nach Artischocken Art” or “en feuilles d’artichaux” for Lemaire, though the Meissen versions copied Asian models and were consequently more restrained.61 It is interesting to find the intended function of certain models also noted in French in the delivery lists for the Lemaire orders, for example, “Kleine Terrine oder Pot à oile mit Deckel or “Zucker Dosen oder Mortiers à Bouquets.”62 Lemaire’s contract was abruptly cancelled in 1731 and he was deported, just as his venture began to attract positive notice in Paris. The Mercure de France for that year, for example, wrote that

such progress has been made in the last two or three years that Models, drawings, and knowledgeable persons are now being sent out from Paris, and a large quantity of the pieces emanating from there are of comparable quality to the most beautiful pieces coming from China and Japan, and often in more beautiful forms, such as Figures, Animals, Trees, Plants, and Flowers… that are better drawn and display a palette of greater variety and overall unity. The Reliefs, Broderies and Ornaments are treated with great symmetry, precision, and taste; such that the ablest connoisseurs are often at a Loss, taking this new porcelain for old, and often even preferring it… The proof of the beauty of these Works of which we are speaking may be found in Paris itself, in the rue Dauphine, at the shop of Monsieur LeBrun, Jewelry Merchant, affiliated with the Dresden Porcelain Manufactory, who sells a great number of them at a most reasonable price, for it is at least two thirds Less than that of porcelains coming from the Indies. There one sees tall pieces, with ornament, and in various colors, of great beauty, pots for water, tobacco, ointment, sugar, and en litron, as well as other forms, serving platters, plates, saucers, drageoires (dish for sweets), snuffboxes, cups and gobelets of various sorts; porringers, covered-bowls for olio broth, etc., all of which has endured the most violent heat of the kiln, as well as even washing in boiling water.63

Production for the French market continued without interruption, however, through Lemaire’s associate, Jean-Charles Huet, who facilitated trade between France and the court of Saxony.64

© Bard Graduate Center, Maureen Cassidy-Geiger.