Originally published in The Sèvres Porcelain Manufactory: Alexandre Brongniart and the Triumph of Art and Innovation, 1800-1847, edited by Derek E. Ostergard. New Haven and London: Published for the Bard Graduate Center for Studies in the Decorative Arts, New York by Yale University Press, 1997. 123-147.

From the exhibition: The Sèvres Porcelain Manufactory: Alexandre Brongniart and the Triumph of Art and Industry, 1800-1847.

In 1800, when Alexandre Brongniart was appointed director of the Sèvres porcelain manufactory, among the first initiatives he undertook was the inauguration of a study collection of ceramics. To this end, he began the aggressive acquisition of samples of raw materials and examples of contemporary work, many in the neoclassical idiom, which would be added to an existing assemblage of ancient ceramics in the possession of the manufactory. By the 1830s, however, his mission had expanded considerably. He recognized the need for a scientific classification of ceramics, and the Sèvres collections came to include a considerable array of historical pieces. By Brongniart’s death in 1847, the museum had become one of the first encyclopedic collections of ceramics in the world. This endeavor also influenced Brongniart’s own evolution as a scholar, culminating in the publication of his seminal Traité des arts céramiques (1844) and Description méthodique du musée céramique (1845), a catalogue of the Sèvres collection, written in collaboration with Derris-Désiré Riocreux.

The concept of establishing a museum of ceramic arts, crafts, and techniques in the early nineteenth century might not seem surprising in itself, especially given the museological fever that was sweeping Europe at the time. Even Brongniart’s success in mobilizing scholars, researchers, and manufacturers to share their knowledge might be seen simply as evidence of the intellectual openness and spirit of cooperation that prevailed in the European scientific community in the first half of the century. The actual acquisition of material, however, more than 3,800 objects entering the collection through what often amounted to bartering, is unusual and of much greater significance.1

Although Brongniart claimed to have followed strict guidelines in assembling the collection, as outlined in the catalogue (1845),2 by the time of his death the range of the collection had changed considerably. It encompassed everything from pre-Columbian vases to eighteenth-century Meissen porcelain animals (acquired through an exchange with the Palais Japonais in Dresden), from raw materials to all manner of studio equipment including a kiln. The rarity and beauty of some of the objects also belied Brongniart’s claims to have followed rigid, formal criteria.

The Genesis of the Sèvres Museum

Beginning in the mid-eighteenth century, the need for museums in France was discussed at great length in philosophical, artistic, and even political circles. As private collections began to proliferate, there was growing criticism of this appropriation of significant artistic achievement, especially because of the constraints placed on public access to art. As was often noted, the restrictions often made it impossible for young artists to learn by studying and copying the most illustrious works of the past.3 As early as 1747, La Font de Saint-Yenne published a pamphlet in which he advocated exhibiting in the Louvre “all the immense and unknown riches” of the royal collections, “arranged systematically.”4

In the decorative arts, a growing resolve to improve the quality of production through technical instruction and the study of models led to the establishment of tuition-free drawing schools, the first of which was founded in Rouen in 1741 by the painter Jean-Baptiste Descamps. These schools assembled study collections from which future museums would develop.5 Thus, in 1766, when the painter Jean-Jacques Bachelier, who had been artistic director of the Sèvres manufactory since 1751, proposed that such an institution be founded in Paris it was part of a larger phenomenon.6

From this beginning, the Musée Céramique eventually emerged. In a similar spirit, the many plates illustrating artisans’ workshops in Denis Diderot and Jean d’Alembert’s Encyclopédie, ou Dictionnaire Raisonné des Sciences, des Arts et des Métiers (1751-72) were meant to broaden knowledge about the decorative arts and crafts as well as to encourage appreciation of their importance.7

By the final decade of the eighteenth century the revolutionary government in France found itself confronted with the vexing problem of how to manage the immense patrimony of the transformed French nation. Much of this consisted of the confiscated property of the clergy (November 2, 1789), the émigres (November 9, 1791), and the crown (August 10, 1792). Deliberating the disposition of this vast array of buildings, paintings, sculpture, artifacts, and other objects, two opposing camps soon emerged: one, smaller and ultimately less powerful, advocated the destruction of the symbols of a detested regime; the other called for the preservation of these “monuments of the arts and sciences,” which were deemed the heritage of “a regenerated France.”

Soon after the opening of the Muséum National des Arts on August 10, 1793, the abbé Grégoire, an inveterate opponent of the destruction of property, submitted a report dated 8 Vendemaire year 3 (September 27, 1794) to the National Convention calling for the establishment of a Conservatoire des Arts et Métiers.8 His plan was approved, leading to the establishment of the first European museum of science and industry. And thanks to the efforts of Alexandre Lenoir, a depository of confiscated church possessions was set up in the convent of the Petits Augustins, in Paris; it became the Musée des Monuments Français.9 Ultimately, the preservationists prevailed, but only after an explosion of iconoclastic violence wrought irreparable damage to the material remains of the monarchical and ecclesiastical past.

It was at this propitious moment that Brongniart was appointed director of the Sèvres manufactory. When he arrived, on March 24, 1800, he found himself at the head of a ruined institution that had lost two-thirds of its personnel. As part of his plan to restore it to operation and, above all, to obtain much-needed revenues, Brongniart envisioned opening a retail establishment in Paris. To raise the necessary funds, he proposed to the ministre de l’interieur that he be permitted to auction off outdated pieces from the manufactory’s stock.10

A porcelain painter named Jullien, son of one of the directors of the Bourg-La-Reine factory, then advanced an even more audacious plan. In a letter dated 18 Fructidor year 8 (September 6, 1800) to the Conseil des Mines, a copy of which was sent to Brongniart on 22 Fructidor (September 11), Jullien first expressed his approval of the council’s intention to place on exhibit “beside the white soil of the Département de la Haute Vienne, the industrial products that had been made from it.”11 This idea of displaying raw materials alongside objects made from them would form one of the key approaches to collecting adopted by Brongniart.

Jullien also suggested that this initiative be widened to include pieces made in the capital of Paris, whose porcelain makers had become “the most considerable branch of the industry,” and that examples of contemporary porcelain be shown with other pieces made previously in Saint-Cloud, Vincennes, Mennecy, and elsewhere, as well as with “those that successive chemists at the Sevres manufactory … might offer to the friends of the nation’s art and industry.” This would constitute “a complete collection for the use of scientists and researchers, who could perhaps fill whatever gaps they encountered in the way of degraded tints and increase the number and beauty of their original colors.”12 Jullien’s notion of including older work was ahead of Brongniart’s thinking at the time. Brongniart became interested in historical pieces for the Sevres museum more than a quarter of a century later.

Jullien further impressed upon the Conseil des Mines the need for rapid action, “especially as regards the [pieces] from the Sevres manufactory …. The auction of porcelains previously fabricated by this establishment is to take place on the 21st of this month …. Someone must be delegated to put aside that morning a few pieces which, in his judgment, might be consistent with the council’s proposed goals.”13

Jullien was a staunch preservationist, but with an important difference. Most other preservationists considered sculpture, painting, and other works to be worthy of presentation in a museum, while the decorative arts were judged to be minor by comparison and of monetary value only. Jullien disagreed, and this view was shared by Brongniart. A combined preoccupation with very real fiscal concerns however, and a prejudice against the rococo may have erased any scruples Brongniart might have had about selling off “these old porcelains that encumber our warehouses.” He dismissed them as “ces choses gothiques.”14

Jullien’s enlightened position outlined in his letter is aligned with the period’s preoccupation with issues of pedagogy, with the mission of making museums serve the higher goal of the progrès des arts. His stance is unusual, however, for including even those artifacts from the past, then being sold at auction, which were made exclusively for pleasure and in a stylistic idiom no longer fashionable. Unfortunately, there is no record of Brongniart’s ever having mentioned this letter or acknowledging that it had influenced him any way.

At the beginning of a long and carefully worded letter to Jean-Antoine Chaptal, the ministre de l’interieur, dated 10 Thermidor year 9 (July 30, 1802), Brongniart set forth his reasons for wanting to establish a study collection: “I believe it will be useful to the progress of the ceramic arts and their history, to assemble in a methodical way, in the national establishment that was previously a school of one of this art’s branches and which ought to be that of the art as a whole, all the objects of art and science that might serve the history of fine and ordinary pottery.”15 He pointed out that, although the activity of the manufactory was “languishing,” it possessed “precious materials” that might serve as the embryo for such a collection, namely: a beautiful series of Etruscan vases; a rather beautiful series of flower, fruit, and animal studies by different masters, notably Desportes and Oudry; a series, interesting for the history of the progress of taste, of models for all the ornamental and utilitarian vases made by the manufactory since its inception; a rather large quantity of clay and [other] raw materials from various places and of various kinds used in the fabrication of pottery.6

He complained, however, about the disorder and the neglect that existed in the collection.17 Noting the gaps in the material he suggested that it be supplemented by the addition of “samples of all pottery clays, both French and foreign, [and] a set of specimens of all known porcelains and potteries.”18 Aware that his superiors would be concerned about the costs of expanding the museum, he proposed that the ministry collaborate with him in organizing an official survey called the Enquête des Préfets (see chap. 11), which he argued would serve his purposes, but at minimal government expense. This would involve the prefects’ “sending to Sevres samples of all the pottery clays from their districts either in use or usable. Twenty livres would suffice.”19 Completed pieces from the various factories and manufactories would be obtained on an exchange basis. As to the space needed to house these materials, he explained that the establishment of the retail shop in Paris had freed a few rooms at the manufactory, which if properly refurbished, might house the museum.

Brongniart’s plan bears a strange resemblance to the one elaborated by the Conseil des Mines a year or so earlier, and he may have had a hand in the latter’s conception. Chemist, mineralogist, and scientist to the core, he insisted above all on the utility of such a collection as an educational tool for students of the applied sciences. Brongniart also voiced another motive, one consistent with views that were widely held at the time. Since the Treaty of Vergennes (1786), the French market had been flooded with English creamware, which, being both attractive and inexpensive, was quite popular. According to Sèvres’s new director, the development of a competitive French product was nothing less than a national obligation.20

The systematic assembly and organization of “unknown riches” envisioned by Brongniart could only further this goal. The dissemination of technical knowledge might lead to the necessary discoveries, thereby contributing to the “progress of art,21 in this case, of the ceramic arts and affiliated industries. The collection of the future museum began to grow as gifts were made and other opportunities for acquisitions presented themselves.

The Organization of the Museum

In 1812, after samples collected under the auspices of the Enquête des Préfets and porcelains from other principal European producers were in hand, Brongniart began to structure the collection “from a technical point of view,” a scientific perspective he preferred throughout his career.22 He reformulated the collection’s parameters to include “all objects produced by firing,”23 which meant that it would include glassware, enamel work, mosaics, and even common bricks. To assure that the collection had “all the didactic interest”24 to which he aspired, he had explanatory labels attached to the pieces, making sure in particular that they specified the name of the donor. The labeling of everything that entered the collection was essential.

He was admirably assisted in this project by Denis-Désiré Riocreux, who began his career at the manufactory as an ornamental painter.25 Obliged to abandon porcelain painting due to serious vision problems, he was placed in charge of experiments with vitreous colors. Brongniart had more important plans for him, however, and by the end of 1817 Riocreux was made de facto curator of the manufactory’s growing collection, with instructions to label the pieces, register them, and “oversee all correspondence with the publishers in the field.”26 This directive required Riocreux to make certain that government agencies sent the manufactory all new publications on ceramics and related topics. Riocreux brought to his task an artist’s sensibility as well as considerable insight. The museum’s archives contain countless notes detailing discoveries made by Riocreux, all of them countersigned by Brongniart who either approved or rejected them. In 1829, five years after the museum had opened to the public, Riocreux was officially named its curator.27

Information about the physical appearance of the museum is scarce. It was situated on the second floor of the manufactory, above the painting workshops.28 Apparently its furnishings were modest, for in 1834 Brongniart complained that the waxed floor was dangerously slippery, presenting a danger to visitors, and called for the installation of walkways covered by “carpeting, oil-cloth, or even plain cloth.”29 That, however, is the extent of documentation of the premises. It is not known when the decision was made to draw up an inventory. By 1817 at the latest, Riocreux was responsible for drafting all the entries in the inventory. In fact, two different inventories were drawn up. The first adhered to the classification schema later used by Brongniart in both the Traité des arts céramiques and the Description méthodique du musée céramique. However, Riocreux eventually abandoned this typological system in favor of an approach based on acquisition date.

The government was hesitant to underwrite purchases. In principle Brongniart had to obtain special authorization for such expenditures, and his superiors were not above reprimanding him when they felt he had neglected this duty.30 When the collection had reached a certain stage of development, however, the only way for Brongniart to fill some of its gaps was to venture into the art market. In 1825 he made his first request to the vicomte de La Rochefoucauld, then directeur général des beaux arts de la Maison du Roi and his direct superior, for an annual “special fund of 1,000 francs” for the acquisition, over and above whatever works and models were needed for the manufactory’s workshops, of “all sorts of primary materials and ceramic products, from the most commonplace pottery to the most precious, from all periods and all nations.”31 In 1826 Brongniart requested “special funds” for the acquisition of some Chinese porcelains at the Sallé sale.32 Given the scarcity of available funding, it is not surprising that Brongniart developed the habit of obtaining pieces he wanted for the museum by offering samples of modern Sèvres production in return. Riocreux kept a register of all such “gifts” offered in exchange for donations to the collection.33

The Collection of Ancient Ceramics

During the second half of the eighteenth century, many wealthy, educated, and socially prominent people became interested in archaeological excavations, an activity that would indirectly prove to be quite beneficial to the Sèvres museum. In the nineteenth century this pastime became increasingly popular. As a zealous antiquarian, Dominique-Vivant Denon had amassed, during his sojourn in the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, a considerable number of ancient ceramics, which he sold to Louis XVI in 1786. They account for the first 292 numbers of Riocreux’s inventory.34 Most date to the Hellenistic period and were made by Greeks working in Southern Italy: Apulian, Campanian, or Lucanian red-figure vases, notably a striking black figure askos (MNC 109) decorated with a female profile linked to a large palmette. Denon’s collection also includes geometric yellow-slip kraters (MNC 62; fig. 9-1) and kantharitic jars.35 Also from the Hellenistic period, but in the Attic style, are a few polished completely black pieces of unusual form (MNC 99), some Attic black figure vases (MNC 57, 100), and, in the same group, two kantharitic goblets (MNC 258.1, 244).36

Denon’s example may have later inspired M. Gaspary, the French consul in Crete, who “offered” - unsolicited and in exchange for ready cash - the pieces he had collected in 1828 on the island of Milo.37 His audacity forced Brongniart’s hand a bit, but a small hydra (MNC 1496.6) and a skyphos (1495-4) in the geometric style typical of Milo entered the collection.38 Beginning in 1828, a naval officer named Jules de Blosseville gave the museum its most significant pieces in this manner.39

Indeed, the many scientific missions organized under the Restauration and the July Monarchy presented Brongniart with choice opportunities for collecting pieces from outside of France. As a result, many unusual objects found their way into the museum’s displays: notably oenochoës(MNC 1419.3, 1419.4, 1419.6) with dark red geometric decoration painted on white slip; double tumblers (MNC 1419.8) with white geometric decoration, a kernos (MNC 1419.9) that Brongniart reproduced in his catalogue of the museum, and finally some large kraters (MNC 1419.2) with polished black decoration.40 In 1842 these were joined by two small objects from the Hellenistic period representing a goat and a duck. Excavated in Athens, they were obtained by the captain of the sloop Embuscade and presented to the manufactory by Dubuc, directeur des dépenses des bâtiments de la couronne.41

In the 1820s the international archaeological community was electrified by the discovery of several tombs in the Etrurian region of Chiusi, most especially at Vulci.42 In 1828, by means unknown, Riocreux managed to acquire the first piece from these excavations to enter a French collection: a small black-clay kantharitic vase with handles (MNC 1075), of Etruscan origin. As the result of an exchange with a dealer named Toppi, an Italian living in Paris, this piece was joined a year later by a chamfered and spouted black-polished oinochoë (MNC 1163.4).43

In 1836 the collection was considerably enriched by the purchase of seventy pieces of ceramics, for 1,500 francs, at the second sale of the Durand collection.44 Riocreux, to whom Brongniart had delegated his authority during his absence in England and Germany, faced stiff competition. The other bidders included the comte de Clarac, curator of antiquities at the Louvre; Raoul Rochette, curator of the Cabinet des Médailles et Antiques of the Bibliothèque Royale; as well as various scholars (notably an antiquarian named Brönstedt),45 wealthy collectors (including the comte de Pourtalès), and at least one rival manufacturer, Godard de Baccarat, the director of the firm of Baccarat.46

It is difficult to match entries on the purchase list prepared by Riocreux with actual pieces in the collection,47 because the descriptions are too generic. Number 166 from the sale, however, may correspond to a superb dark green Attic oinochoë(MNC 2035) with incised decoration. Riocreux spent the considerable sum of 200 francs for this piece, which he described as: “Greek vase, white and violet paintings with gold embossed ornament.”48 The Durand sale also occasioned the acquisition of the collection’s first Corinthian pottery: two alabaster vases (MNC 2047, 2048) decorated with animal friezes and featuring a ground color that Brongniart judged to be quite rare.49 The Etruscan part of the collection was also enriched. Pieces bearing secure attributions included, for example, a kantharitic vase (MNC 2054) of smoked and polished clay with incised decoration50 and an unusual four-footed goblet (MNC 2055) with relief decoration, reproduced in the volume of plates that accompanied the Description méthodique du musée céramique.51

It was also through Toppi that the first Egyptian piece entered the collection, a funerary statuette (MNC 1185) found in excavations outside Thebes. In 1830 this object was joined by pieces sent by an envoy of an archaeologist named Lenormant, notably an earthenware scarab also from Thebes. The museum was indebted for many of its Egyptian artifacts to the inveterate traveler Baron Taylor, whose donations included a canopic jar (MNC 1475) from Tanis capped the head of the deity Hapi (New Kingdom).52 In 1846 Victor Schoelcher, son of the ceramics producer Marc Schoelcher, contributed several Egyptian pieces, notably a long handleless bottle (MNC 3600.2) dating from the Middle Kingdom.53

In January 1836 John Robison, secretary of the Royal Society of Antiquarians in Edinburgh, sent Sèvres a glazed ornamental brick that, according to him, had been taken from Babylon. After countless peregrinations it finally arrived but unfortunately was broken.54 In 1847, when sculpture from Khorsabad arrived at the Louvre, Sèvres received more bricks from Babylon through the intermediary of the French consul in Baghdad.55

Gallo-Roman and Celtic Pottery

There were many Roman and Gallo-Roman ruins in northwestern Europe that had long aroused the curiosity of both professional and amateur antiquarians. In the nineteenth century, the proliferation of urban construction sites led to the discovery of many more such remains. Not surprisingly, the museum’s donors include an engineer from Ponts et Chaussées (the department responsible for bridges and roads); an architect from the department of public works; and even an architect in charge of restoring the Luxembourg palace. Accounts of these discoveries proliferated as amateur and professional archaeologists widened their searches to excavate tombs and burial mounds. Gradually, however, interest shifted to the remains of other cultures, and by 1847 Celtic pottery increasingly became a part of the museum’s collection.

The first donation of Gallo-Roman pottery fragments (MNC 641) was sent in 1809 by M. Ramond, prefect of Puy-de-Dôme; he claimed they had been found at the Gergovie plateau, near Clermont in central France. The next acquisition came only in 1822, when an antiquarian named Schweighaeuser residing in Strasbourg, donated fragments of pottery molds and pieces with impressed decoration (MNC 773, 774) that he had found at Heiligenberg and Rheinzabern on the Rhenish frontier.56 In 1824, thanks to the generosity of Grignon, head of the ironworks in Bayart, some pieces formerly in the collection of the abbé de Tersan, a famous eighteenth-century amateur-collector, entered the collection. These fragments (MNC 829), some of which bear the maker’s name, had been discovered in 1772 in Champagne.57

In 1829 an appeals lawyer named Michelin, at the Cour des Comptes, turned over vase fragments (MNC 1209, 1210) found on the site of the Palais de Justice on the Île de la Cité in Paris.58 To relieve the boredom of life in a small town, Renaud de Saint-Amour, a colonel in the third regiment of hussars garrisoned at Lauterbourg, began excavations in its environs. In 1831 he discovered several potters’ kilns in Rheinzabern that were quite well preserved. He sent plans of them to Brongniart, as well as three complete terracotta molds (MNC 1383-1, 1383.2, 1383.3), for which he received in exchange several pieces of Sèvres porcelain.59

Beginning in 1828 the Roman cemetery near Bordeaux known as Terre-Nègre was excavated by a professor named Jouannet from the local academy. He donated several small cups (MNC 1054.1, 1054.2) and goblets (MNC 1572.2) in good condition as well as a small amphora (MNC 1572.4) and an oinochoë(MNC 1572.5) made of reddish clay.60

In Orléans M. Jollois, a local civil engineer, undertook similar excavations in the Roman cemetery of that city. His finds included a small red vial (MNC 1630.6) with a polished surface and an oinochoë (MNC 3139.1) with a double-pointed handle.61 Work at the Luxembourg palace overseen by an architect named Gisors led to the discovery of the ruins of a pottery in its gardens. Cups and shards of red-clay pottery (MNC 2287.18, 2287.10) from this site, some of them bearing a potter’s name, found their way to Sèvres.62

The most remarkable Roman pieces entered the collection in 1836 via the comte d’Espine, the surgeon-dentist of the king of Sardinia. He donated several objects discovered in excavations at Pollentia, in Piedmont.63 These included amphoras, lamps, and some magnificent glass goblets, one of which is covered with raised decoration.

Until this time, gifts and exchanges had brought the collection only small pieces or fragments. Not surprisingly, when Brongniart learned of the discovery of fourteen amphoras, each more than seventeen pieds high at the Gallo-Roman site of Mons-Selencus in the Alps, he asked the mayor to contribute one of them to the museum.64

Increasingly in the nineteenth century, those interested in ancient history widened the scope of their studies to include the ancient, indigenous civilizations of France. A burial mound in Dieppe, which was excavated in 1843, yielded early fragments. Deville, the curator of the Musée d’Antiquités in Rouen, wrote that “these crude pottery remains seem to predate the invasion of Julius Caesar, or at the least to be contemporary with it.”65 Another excavator, Delanoue, in sending a donation of pieces, recounted the circumstances of their discovery: “Pottery fragment found .50 meters below the surface along with human bones in diluvial deposits in the grotto of Rancogne.”66 Even the curate of Sèvres, the abbé Bainvel, became a disciple of this new archaeological passion and offered the museum a “druid” vase from a dolmen near Ploemeur.67

Brongniart’s carefully cultivated relations with the European scientific community led to the acquisition of many examples of Germanic pottery. In 1837 Alexander Baron von Humboldt, the esteemed German naturalist, donated a hand-shaped cup (MNC 2285) made of polished yellow clay.68 In 1838 Forschammer, a German archaeologist, contributed two gray clay cups, a goblet of yellow polished clay, and some vase fragments (MNC 2570.2 -2570.7) excavated in what is now Denmark.69 Finally in 1844 Olfers, curator of antiquities to the king of Prussia, sent fourteen Germanic vases from the warehouse of his own museum, most of which came from Brandenburg.70

Acquisitions from Travelers

Part of the collection reflects the adventurous individuals who, in the first half of the nineteenth century, turned their passion for travel into a recognized profession. In this period the Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle, acting in cooperation with the French government, organized many expeditions to other regions. Brongniart, who maintained close ties with those individuals at the museum, did not hesitate to ask its mineralogists, naturalists, and geographers to act as his agents as well. Before they departed, he gave them instructions and a few crates that he hoped would be filled en route with materials for the museum. He had dealings not only with ships’ captains and lieutenants but often with the surgeons, doctors, dentists, and other personnel who accompanied the expeditions. Members of the diplomatic corps were also pressed into service.

Although many of these individuals possessed little or no knowledge of ceramics, surprisingly, they appear to have made few mistakes. Perhaps the explanation for this lies in the instructions Brongniart gave them. He directed them to purchase pieces only from the districts that they visited, to make these purchases from knowledgeable sources, or to retrieve pieces recently excavated from archaeological digs. He also directed them to gather samples of both ancient and contemporary pottery, preferably complete pieces, but fragments would suffice. They were to record to the best of their ability the place of acquisition, the materials used in the fabrication process when possible, and whether or not a potter’s wheel had been employed. Sketches were to be made of the kilns, and all samples were to be carefully wrapped and labeled.71 Everyone taking part in these efforts was provided with 200 francs to cover related costs. Sometimes these efforts were for naught, for the hazards of navigation were such that collected materials did not always reach their intended destination.72 In many more cases, however, the museum at Sèvres benefited significantly.

The Americas

In 1827 thanks to the efforts of a chief surgeon named Busseuil aboard the frigate Thétis, the collection acquired its first piece of pre-Columbian pottery, an entire black Chimu stirrup vase (MNC 979).73 The naturalist Dessalines d’Orbigny made an exploratory voyage to South America that lasted from 1826 to 1834. During that time, he sent back pottery made by two indigenous tribes, the Guaranis of Paraguay and the Corrientes of Argentina, and upon returning to France he delivered to the museum what Brongniart termed a “curious group” of Incan pieces.74 This included a vase in the form of a reclining llama(MNC 1762), a spherical pitcher (MNC 1761) with geometric decoration found in Bolivia, and, most notably, several pre-Columbian objects of very high quality, among them a stirrup vase (MNC 12249) in the shape of a bird and a vase (MNC 1768) decorated with the figure of a large cat, a vase (MNC 1763) with geometric decoration from Chile (Atacama), and an Aztec figure (MNC 1773, damaged by exposure) from Teotihuacán in Mexico.75

The French consul Barrot left for the Americas in 1835 and later sent a case of Peruvian antiquities from Manila. It reached Sèvres in 1838 and contained, among other things, a lovely Mochica stirrup vase with a body shaped like two parrots (MNC 2547.1) and a zoomorphic Chimu vase (MNC 2546.3).76 Admiral Dupetit-Thouars managed to obtain several Central and South American vases for the museum. Most were Incan, but they also included a superb Chimu vase (MNC 2797) decorated with a frieze of opossums.77

In 1837 a mineralogist named Stokes, who lived in London, corresponded with Brongniart and donated some pre-Incan pieces he had gathered in Peru, including several crudely modeled statuettes (MNC 2417.1, 2417.2, 2418.6).78

The first piece from French Guiana to enter the collection, a newly made orange-colored cup (MNC 794), was donated in 1823 by Jean François Robert, a painter at the manufactory, who had obtained it from a ship’s purser.79 Thanks to the comte de Clarac, it was joined by another cup from Guiana in 1830. And in 1843 the intrepid ceramicist Victor Schoelcher contributed a number of important pieces and fragments from the Caribbean, including a mask (MNC 3646) from Puerto Rico.80

North American productions were also represented. A brown clay vase (MNC 1326) was donated by Professor Duméril, in 1830,81 but most of the North American acquisitions were obtained through the efforts of one of Brongniart’ s former students, a man named Ducatel, who had become a professor of chemistry in Baltimore. In 1837 he sent a number of fragments found near the city of Marietta in Ohio.82

Coastal Regions of Africa, the Indian Ocean, and the Pacific

No one knows why the miniature painter Chapon went to Madagascar, but he returned to France in 1829 with an apodal water pot (MNC 1076) and a vase (MNC 1085) made of a grayish paste covered with a graphite-based glaze. Africa was poorly represented in the collection at the time. In 1836 Brongniart noted in his instructions to Captain Laplace, who was embarking for Africa, that the museum possessed “no samples of pottery from southern and eastern Africa” and that according to the travel account of one Daniel, “the Hottentots made pieces of pottery that are quite varied and rather large.”83 The captain duly obliged Brongniart by penetrating the South African interior in search of jars and other pottery made by the Bantu, but his efforts were in vain.84 Brongniart did not give up, however, and in 1838 he provided a surgeon major named Ackermann, who was departing for Madagascar, with a similar set of instructions, but again to no avail.85 The explorer Rochet d’Héricourt was more successful. In the course of his expedition to Abyssinia, he managed to obtain two vases and a bottle (MNC 3751.1, 3751.2) in the Choa kingdom, all featuring polished black surfaces with incised decoration, which he brought back in 1845.86

The coastal areas of the subcontinent were explored with increasing intensity in the second quarter of the nineteenth century. This region of the globe was scouted for Brongniart by Jules de Blosseville, who in 1828 sent back twenty-seven objects(MNC 1059- 1062), including glazed pottery from Calcutta and polychrome figures from Chandernagor. In 1833 the naturalist Lamare Picquot brought back from Bengal some goblets, coolers, and an incense burner (MNC 1551 - 1554). In 1837 in Pondicherry Laplace acquired some vases for everyday use as well as “some modeled figures which give an idea of the talent of Indian potters,” to which he added: “the workers are miserable …; their trade barely provides them with the wherewithal to survive.”87 He also obtained some pieces in Ceylon, a small assortment of Malaysian pottery, and even some glazed pieces from Cebu in the Philippines (MNC 2857 -2864).88

In 1840 explorations in the Fiji Islands acquired some crude pottery coated with a gummy, resinous glaze; a sample (MNC 2898) was collected by a hydrographic engineer named Dumoulin, aboard the Astrolabe, during a round-the-world voyage. In 1846 a ship’s captain named Bérard brought back from New Caledonia two cooking pots (MNC 3672) coated with a vegetal glaze.

The Mediterranean Basin and the Arab World

When the eminent chemist Jean-Pierre Joseph Darcet departed for Egypt in 1829, the precise set of instructions Brongniart gave him included an excerpt dealing with pottery from Denon’s Voyage dans la haute et basse Egypte (1802) as well as a few lines from a “Mémoire su l’industrie de l’agriculture de l’Egypte” (Memorandum on Egyptian Industry and Agriculture) by a certain Girard (undated).89 According to these texts, the terracotta pottery production was essentially limited to Upper Egypt between Dendera and Thebes, a kind of potstone was its predominant material, and the pieces were baked in the sun.

It was another donation, brought back in 1830 by Lenormant, an archaeologist who accompanied Jean-François Champollion to Egypt in 1828, however, that most intrigued Brongniart. Chemical analysis revealed the glaze on these fragments to be composed of tin and lead. According to information gathered by Lenormant, they dated from the ninth century A.D., making them the earliest examples of stanniferous glazes then known.90 Other fragments, made from siliceous paste, resembled those made in ancient Egypt.

In 1832 Baron Taylor compounded this stupefaction by bringing back mosaic tesserae (MNC 1449) from the wall of the Jerusalem mosque. In the words of Brongniart, “its paste is so sandy, it is so similar to sandstone that I suspect it is stone … that has been enameled.”91

When the archaeologist Botta was appointed French consul in Mossul in 1835, he was expressly reminded not to forget the museum.92 By and large, Sèvres did well by Botta, but all he could obtain in San’a, Mecca, and Djedda was everyday contemporary pottery (MNC 2748 - 2756). Following Baron Taylor’s example, he also took an enameled tessera (MNC 2757) from a wall of the tomb of Mohammed in Medina. This zeal, however misplaced, had its reward, pushing back the documented date of the Arab community’s knowledge of alkaline silicate glazes by a full century.93 Tin glazes were in use by the ninth century and alkaline silicate glazes by the eleventh.

Brongniart was especially anxious to obtain materials from the Ottoman Empire. In 1830 Virlet, a member of the Morea Commission, sent him a large consignment of modern pottery from the Dardanelles region along with some pipes from Constantinople and some vases from Smyrna (MNC 1328 - 1334).94 In 1843 Brongniart asked Diran, assistant director of the mint in Constantinople, to contribute “some raw and prepared materials used in the fabrication of [your] pottery.”95 In 1847, Viquesnel, a member of the Société Géologique, sent some samples along with a cover letter describing ceramics production in Sule Burgas.96

There is a handwritten copy of an excerpt of Jean Chardin’s Journal du voyage du chevalier (1711), an account of a trip to Persia, among Brongniart’s papers at Sèvres.97 According to Chardin, “so beautiful are [the] glazes” of the porcelain made in Persia that the work was virtually indistinguishable from that of China. This impression was subsequently confirmed by many others, notably the comte de Milly in his book L’Art de la porcelaine (1771).98 Brongniart sought a scientific explanation for this, but a definitive answer long eluded him. A beautiful coupe (MNC 449) that entered the collection in 1806 with a group of Chinese porcelains was decorated with large blue-flowered rinceaus against a white ground and with highlights in what Brongniart and Riocreux, in the Description méthodique du musée céramique, termed an “aureocoppery” luster. Riocreux characterized it in his inventory as “earthenware imitating porcelain,” adding the query: “Persian?”99

So strong was the desire for Persian porcelain that Brongniart, like many others, was tempted to ascribe such origins to seventeenth-century Nevers earthenware covered in tinted enamel.100 In 1829 when Brongniart agreed to an exchange with Toppi that netted the collection a Chinese blue enamel plate with an overlay white decoration, he had already received the shards sent by Lenormant. When Riocreux recorded the exchange, however, he resorted to a language of equivocation frequently encountered in contemporary documents dealing with such artifacts: “an ordinary blue-enameled earthenware plate called Persian porcelain.”101 The object in question is illustrated in the Description méthodique du musée céramique among “oriental” ware.102 Riocreux repeated the error in 1843, when Jules Ziegler, a stoneware maker, donated a small bottle (MNC 3129) “in the oriental style” featuring a decoration of white flowering branches against a yellow enamel ground; it was also included in the same plate of “oriental” wares.103

In 1835 in instructions to Botta, Brongniart expressed doubts about the existence of a true Persian porcelain: “I do not know of any, and I don’t even think pottery of this kind was made in Persia but they did make, and may make still, earthenware … remarkable for the beauty of its vivid azure blue enamel.”104

That same year Brongniart acquired from a Parisian dealer named Poirier a superb blue Iznik bottle (MNC 1842) that Brongniart thought was Persian.105 During a trip to Nuremberg the following year he purchased a jug (MNC 2134) decorated with pinks and eglantine, described in the inventory as “white paste [earthenware] simulating porcelain, attributed to the workshops of Persia.”106

Brongniart also had his share of bad luck. A case sent in 1843 by Sir John MacNeil, English envoy to the shah of Persia, never arrived. This was unfortunate, for it contained a tile from the Shiraz mosque, another from the Isaphan mosque, and some wall plaques from the mosques in Tabriz and Rhei.107

A gift presented in 1844 by the captain of the Despointes, however, certainly must have helped to solve the question of attribution. This was an extraordinary Syrian cup (MNC 3292) covered with a lapis blue glaze and decorated with a gilded arch motif. The circumstances of its discovery left no doubt of its origins: it had been found in a well along with similar cups and an Arabic manuscript. It appears in the Description méthodique du musée céramique, in the chapter devoted to glazed pottery and is described in the inventory as an “Arabic production of the ninth century.”108

At the De Guignes sale of 1846 Brongniart purchased a Persian soft-paste cup made with a rice-grain technique that must have assured him that the Persians had developed a porcelain body, but by then the Traité des arts céramiques and the Description méthodique du musée céramique had already been published.109 Perhaps he remained skeptical, because Riocreux, describing the piece in the inventory, vacillated once again, adding the query: “Persian porcelain?”

The Far East

In 1806 the museum acquired a large number of Chinese porcelains, and in his preparatory notes for the Description méthodique du musée céramique, Brongniart identifies the donor of this collection as Pierre Daru, the Intendant Général.110 In a letter to Daru dated January 21, 1808, he identifies Denon as having contributed the first pieces of what was thought to be Japanese porcelain.111

Most of the 107 pieces acquired in 1806 had been porcelains with blue underglaze decoration in the form of figures or floral motifs, but they also included: a “Compagnie des Indes” cup bearing a mythological subject painted in grisaille; some pieces with Imari decoration; others featuring gold decoration against a blue ground; and a small pot (MNC 380) with a green vermiculated ground and salamanders in relief.

Prior to the advent of scholarly, methodical research on Far Eastern ceramics, analysis of this work was just as difficult as it had been to comprehend Persian porcelain.112 It was especially difficult to distinguish between Chinese and Japanese porcelain, a situation that persisted throughout the century in varying degrees. Only one written source for Chinese ceramics was available to Brongniart, and he used it extensively: Lettres édifiantes had been written between 1712 and 1722 by a Jesuit missionary to China named Père d’Entrecolles. With respect to Japanese ceramics, Brongniart had to rely on a few lines devoted to the subject in a 1732 book113 and on the counsel of a German-born acquaintance, a naturalist and doctor named Siebold, who had lived in Japan for seven years.

The inventory does not offer precise indications as to when this porcelain entered the collection, and Riocreux’s vocabulary was understandably too limited in this domain for him to provide anything other than summary visual descriptions. Porcelain that was classified as “Compagnie des Indes,” or export porcelain, made for the East India Company, was not distinguished from other Chinese porcelain. Dating was practically nonexistent. The first timid attempts were made on the occasion of the public sale of cargo from the La Fayette in Le Havre in 1844. The museum apparently purchased a Wan-Li vase (MNC 3401.2).

Brongniart’s subsequent purchases reflect more clearly his preoccupations as the director of a porcelain manufactory; they exemplify technical processes that he sought to master. As he explained to Consul Barrot, who was about to embark on a voyage that would likely take him to China, “the Chinese apply colors to their porcelain that are varied and quite bright, very thickly and with a relief we cannot approach in Europe.”114 Similar technical considerations prompted him to request special acquisition funds for the 1826 Sallé sale where he purchased four pieces with openwork panels, a small flask with double panels, and three small cups made of agatized glass.”115

In 1827 Brongniart acquired six Chinese pieces from a Parisian dealer named Leblanc, including a “purple red enamel” and another blue enameled piece (MNC 906 and 907). In 1839 he negotiated an exchange with the perruquier-coiffeur of the town of Sèvres and acquired a very beautiful Chinese ewer (MNC 2603) lacking its handle – a fortuitous absence, which, as noted in the inventory, demonstrated that “the Chinese painted on unfired paste.” In addition, he was always on the lookout for one of the large vases that only the Chinese seemed to produce. In 1837 Brongniart, despite the parsimonious government budgets, paid a London dealer named Baldock 1,165 francs for such a vase (MNC 2420), this one 51 1/4 inches (130 cm) in height116; remarkably, it survives intact in the museum storerooms.

Although Brongniart increasingly sought to acquire Chinese pieces from all periods, he specifically asked his agents abroad to obtain modern pieces “of known date, within ten years,” to select pieces showing the variety of colors used in China and “never seen in Europe,” and to record their Chinese names.117 In 1840 Captain Laplace adhered admirably to this brief. He sent back from Cochin China several pieces of glazed pottery and stoneware (MNC 2858 -286o) indicating their names and intended use wherever possible. In Canton he obtained “a large bowl or washbasin” (MNC 2870), some 23 5/8 inches (60 cm) in diameter, for a mere 135 francs, this low price being due to a slight crack in the bottom.118

A Sinologist named Callery, who served as an interpreter on the French mission to China in 1844, acquired some thirty pieces of modern porcelain (MNC 3423, 3424), carefully selected for its variety. But it was a Father Ly who, in 1846, surpassed Brongniart’s highest hopes by sending a group of contemporary porcelains from “Kin Te Ching” and, more importantly, some samples of raw materials carefully packed in a stoneware vase (MNC 3663) to assure their safe arrival. The previous year Brongniart had obtained from a Parisian dealer named Houssaye in exchange for goods worth about 3,000 francs, a porcelain model of the tower of Nankin (MNC 3624, now in the collection of the Musée Guimet), which soon took its place in the museum alongside eight other pieces.119

Chinese glass production also intrigued Brongniart. As he wrote to Barrot and Laplace, he had never encountered, either on the market or in a private collection, glassware or crystal from the Far East. In 1829, three years after acquiring agatized cups at the Sallé sale, he made an exchange with Toppi and obtained another small cup (MNC 1180) made of the imitation jade glass known as pâte de riz, or rice paste. By 1838, although that year a botanist named Gaudichaud brought him two bracelets (MNC 2542) made of the same material, the collection still possessed no ordinary glassware.

The pieces donated by Denon in 1808 could not be attributed to Japan with any degree of certainty. In 1829 Cailleux, the director of the warehouses of the Musée Royal, presented the museum with fourteen plates (MNC 1201) made of “porcelaine du japon,” which were in fact Chinese plates with Imari decoration. The same year, Jules de Blosseville sent Brongniart a large stoneware jar (MNC 1120) he had acquired in Batavia, supposedly of Japanese origin and intended “for the storage of water aboard junks.”

In 1823 Dr. Siebold had been sent to Japan on a medical mission. Upon his return to Paris, he presented Brongniart with a cup (MNC 1966) and a small goblet (MNC 1967) “in the extra-thin porcelain known as eggshell” as well as another goblet (MNC 1968) “made of porcelain paste fired au dégourdi” or in the middle temperature range. These were the only pieces that Brongniart considered to be authentically Japanese.

Contemporary Work

Contemporary ceramics and glassware were well represented in the museum’s displays from the beginning. Brongniart’s aim was to classify “the ceramic arts … of all places and all times,” and such pieces were indispensable if he was to succeed in explaining “the progress of the art” to its visitors. He was fascinated by technical advances of all kinds, whatever their origin, and he opened the establishment’s doors wide to the work of independent producers. As a result, the museum became a window onto the most audacious and ingenious developments in the field in the first half of the nineteenth century. To this end, Brongniart took advantage of the Enquête des Préfets, a nationwide investigation into the ceramic arts (see chap. 11), and the industrial exhibitions in Paris to cultivate relations with other European producers and manufactories. During his European travels, he also gathered objects that were appropriate to his goals for the museum. Beginning in 1802, the pieces entering the collection reveal Brongniart’s taste and preferences.

His long-term fascination with English creamware and stoneware, which were inexpensive and thus highly competitive, began soon after his arrival at Sèvres. One of the first pieces to enter the collection after the 292 objects of the 1786 Denon acquisition was a fine stoneware teapot, numbered 295 in the inventory. It features white relief ornament against a black ground and was probably acquired by Brongniart during his 1802 trip to England, although the inventory does not confirm this. The same year, an imitation-bronze stoneware goblet (MNC 316), made by Chanou at Sèvres, also entered the collection. It was an “attempt to imitate English production,” as it was described in the inventory, and further represents the technical ingenuity and imitative skill so characteristic of the nineteenth century.

In 1800 the Institut de France, concerned about the many technical issues within French industry, including the effects of sudden changes of temperature, porosity, and the use of toxic lead glazes in ordinary French pottery, offered a prize for the successful development of an inexpensive pottery that addressed these issues.120 In 1801 the prize was awarded to the French scientist Jacques Fourmy for a new material christened hygiocérame (from the Greek hygeia, “health”), and in 1802 Brongniart added two examples of it (MNC 312 and 313) to the museum’s collection.

The Enquête des Préfets

This survey ultimately made a significant contribution to the collections of the museum, but the prefects’ response to Brongniart’s requests for materials was less than enthusiastic. After the initial questionnaire campaign of 1806, Brongniart complained to the ministre de l’intérieur that only four perfects had bothered to respond and those incompletely (deliveries were supposed to include finished pieces and samples of the raw materials used in their fabrication). Somewhat earlier, in 1802, however, Brongniart may have obtained some fine stoneware (MNC 310, four pieces) produced by Bosc in Musigny (Côte d’Or) through the survey. In 1804 he received some earthenware (MNC 324) with delicate blue decoration from the Boch factory in Septfontaines as well as two white earthenware vases (MNC 320) from the Creil factory. A fine piece of stoneware (MNC 334) from the Utzschneider factory in Sarreguemines was in the collection by 1806. During the brief period of Napoleonic conquest in the early nineteenth century, France extended its boundaries considerably. As a result, the prefect Chabrol was able to send some fine earthenware from Savona and pottery from Albissola, while Merlet obliged with earthenware from Cologne.

By the time the survey ended, hundreds of pieces had entered the collection. Most were inventoried in 1808, assigned nos. 511 to 636 and nos. 639 to 661. Many of these represented several objects sharing an inventory number.121

The Industrial Products Exhibitions

The earliest exposition in France took place in 1798; two others followed in 1801 and 1802, and the third to be organized under the Empire, in 1806, lasted twenty-four days and featured no fewer than 1,400 exhibitors.122 Subsequent political and military developments brought this rush of enthusiasm to an end: it was not until 1819, during the reign of Louis XVIII, that the next exhibition occurred. Thereafter, however, one was organized every four years. These provided an incredible windfall for the museum, and an enormous number of objects entered the museum directly from the exhibitions.

Beginning with the 1823 exhibition, Brongniart consistently served as a member of the jury. In a letter to the comte de Montalivet dated December 1833, he described the priorities that shaped his judgment on these occasions. “The sole object of these exhibitions,” he wrote, “is to draw the attention of the public and the government to the factories and producers who have made real progress in their art by producing quality work at the lowest possible price.”123 In his view, then, it was not their primary purpose to honor unique showpieces produced at extravagant cost. As he observed to Saint Cricq-Cazaux, a ceramics producer in Creil, “the difficulty consists of making something as beautiful and fine as possible at the lowest possible price.”124

Brongniart made notes during the exhibitions assessing the various products on display. He was always curious about the quantities of pieces produced, the materials used in their fabrication, the particulars of their firing, and the number of workers used to produce them. He sometimes visited the warehouses in Paris to obtain supplementary information.

At the close of each exhibition, Brongniart sent letters to the exhibitors whose work had impressed him with its quality and originality, requesting approval to appropriate some of their pieces for the museum and specifying that, if they agreed, the objects would be “placed prominently, dated, and labeled with the name” of the producer.125 Exhibitors responded positively to these requests.

The honor of being represented at Sèvres could come at a price. Some of the pieces underwent a variety of tests or were put into use before finding their way to the showcases. The inventory informs us, for example, that two fine earthenware plates (MNC 673) from the Creil factory “were subjected, the one to the action of potassium hydrosulfide for half a day, the other to vinegar evaporation.” A porcelain coffee jug (MNC 687) made by the Parisian producer Desprez was “used daily for two years,” during which time it was “exposed to heaters and hearth fires.” A refractory pottery crucible (MNC 808) from the Lamontagne factory in Limoges was subjected to “the trial of feldspathic fusion at high temperature in the porcelain kiln.” More prosaically, a plate(MNC 1671) from Montereau “was used for two years at the table of Monsieur Dumas, professor at the Royal Academy of Sciences.”126

Many manufacturers subsequently donated examples of technical developments at their own initiative, independent of the exhibitions. In such cases Brongniart always requested that they indicate the prices, for in his view “the judgment of commercial objects must be based on price as well as quality.”127

The production of fine earthenware made from indigenous materials that would rival English creamware was something of an obsession among all French manufacturers during the early nineteenth century. In this domain, the intervention of Boudon de Saint-Amans was decisive. In the course of several stays in England he had become thoroughly acquainted with the processes used there, and in 1827 Brongniart allowed him to undertake some trials at Sèvres.128 The development of transfer printing held out the promise of attractive, brightly colored tableware for a large public. In the same period, decorative ewers and jewelry caskets began to proliferate in many bourgeois households. The vitality of this kind of production seemed limitless: encouraged by technical advances its practitioners devised a steady stream of variations on old themes: which they sincerely believed represented marked improvements.

Creamware, or faïence fine, from Creil (Oise) and Sarreguemines (Lorraine) was selected from the 1819 exhibition, as were pieces of hygiocérame made by the Parisian producer Desprez. Brongniart also singled out work realized by François-Antoine Legros d’Anizy at Sèvres, specifically a porcelain plaque (MNC 705) decorated with figure compositions in muffle-fired colors and a Sèvres porcelain plate (MNC 712) decorated with “a frieze of palmettes printed in gold by the lithographic process.” Legros d’Anizy had also experimented with his transfer-printing techniques on creamware produced in Creil, a sample of which (MNC 713) was added to the collection.

Brongniart was extremely interested in everything having to do with glazes, including luster glazes. A Parisian craftsman named Girard had covered a hard-paste porcelain lid (MNC 703) with a platinum ground glaze.129 Sèvres had set a precedent in this regard by producing two vases ‘fuseau’ with platinum grounds as early as 1814.130 Ten pieces of faïence fine (MNC 671) from the Utzschneider factory made with marbled paste or covered with a glossy black glaze were also added to the museum’s collection.

The most idiosyncratic pieces at the 1819 exhibition were made by the prolific Boudon de Saint-Amans. Something of a ceramics polymath, at that time he was interested in the fabrication of sulphides, a technique with which he experimented at the Mont-Cenis crystal works near Creusot. Some of the results entered the museum, namely a glass quoit inset with a painting on porcelain imitating precious stones and several other pieces decorated with depictions of famous people (MNC 694, 8 pieces).

Nast’s productions exemplified the highest standards of the Parisian factories. Brongniart singled out a white porcelain vase (MNC 688.1) with biscuit relief ornament.

Donations from the exhibitions were sometimes supplemented by purchases elsewhere to increase the collection of modern pieces. Concerned about the quality of the French products available to the public, Brongniart often made such purchases on the open market, sometimes buying pieces without ornament or with the simplest of decoration. A typical example is a cup (MNC 780) decorated with a gold fillet, acquired in 1822 from an itinerant salesman in the park at Saint-Cloud.

In 1821 Legros d’Anizy was employed at the Sarreguemines factory, where he experimented with gold glazes on faïence fine. He donated one of these to Sèvres: a baluster vase, or vase ‘Medici’(MNC 770.1), entirely covered in gold.

The 1823 exhibition revealed the full creative genius of the ceramist François-Paul Utzschneider, who had developed a technique for giving fine stoneware the appearance of semiprecious stones and other materials. From his submissions Brongniart selected two inkwells (MNC 809), one of them imitating porphyry and the other petrified wood.

Although eventually glassware was well represented in the collection, Brongniart began to acquire it slowly. In 1819 the Chagot brothers, who were based in Creusot, exhibited a masterly pair of candelabra with sixteen glass shades,131 but in 1823 Brongniart chose only a few crystal goblets (MNC 813) for the museum. He selected similar pieces (MNC 814) from those placed on display by Godart of Baccarat.

In 1824 Brongniart placed on exhibit at the museum the principal colors available for painting on hard-paste porcelain made by Mortelèque (MNC842), a Parisian chemist, as well as a plaque (MNC 843) bearing fired samples of the main colors used at Sèvres.

In 1826 Boudon de Saint-Amans was in Creil carrying out experiments in hopes of developing a fine stoneware “like that of the English.” His success is evident in a variety of pieces (MNC 944.1); neoclassical in form, they are black with spare relief ornament.

Fouque of Toulouse is a small manufactory near Choisy and Creil, but nonetheless examples of its plates (MNC 994) with printed decoration over much of their surfaces, were selected for representation in the museum. Bureaux of Paris was similarly honored for his submissions made of an opaque porcelain called faïence porcelaine (MNC 997), a new variation of faïence fine. Brongniart was also interested in the porcelains made with pure alumina and silica by Guignet (MNC 1017 and 1018), whose factory was situated in Giez, near Aujon. Andot of Septvieilles donated eight terracotta pieces (MNC 981) modeled with the aid of a mechanical press.

The first milk-glass also entered the museum’s collection in 1827 (MNC 966). These objects were selected from the many flower vases and jewelry boxes made of the material, some combining several colors, exhibited by the Bontemps factory in Choisy-le-Roi. Paste, artificial pearls, and imitation gemstones produced by Lançon of Septmoncel (Jura) and Bourguignon of Paris were also deemed worthy of the museum(MNC 1035 and 1036).

In 1828 a factory at Bercy on the outskirts of Paris donated several examples of their production. In addition to a set of crystal glasses of sturdy but elegant form, it presented a mantelpiece vase made to resemble red marbled stone (MNC 1070) as well as many decorative decanters and jewelry caskets of various colors. Of greater significance, however, the factory also sent the first pieces of imitation cut glass produced with a metal pressure mold (MNC1069). In 1829 the Creil factory revealed an Asian influence in their production when they donated a cooler made of fine paste, of a yellow color called “Nankin,” decorated with painted flowers in earth tones (MNC II49.2).

Charles de Bourgoing, who was secretary of the French delegation to Saint Petersburg, registered a patent for the production of lithophanes in 1826 and worked to further their development at Montreuil-sous-Bois. In 1828 the Société d’Encouragement awarded him a bronze medal for the invention. Several of his efforts entered the museum the following year (MNC 1157).132 He and Baron Alexis du Tremblay went into partnership in 1827, opening a factory at Rubelles, but production did not get underway until 1838-39.

In 1830 Brongniart became interested in molded glass decanters shaped like tortoises, bouquets of flowers, and even the Fontaine des Innocents in Paris. He acquired several examples (MNC 1317) directly from one “M. Blottière, maître-faîencier in Paris,” who claimed to have originated the idea, but the pieces had been produced at the factory in Landel in 1830.

Experiments conducted in 1817 by Saint-Amans at Sèvres led to the development of a new material: opaque porcelain. An improved version of faïence fine, it was made with nontranslucent kaolin paste. Possessed of the nontoxic qualities so enthusiastically endorsed by the Institut, it was soon adopted by other producers, and it triumphed at the 1834 exhibition. In addition to fine earthenware and stoneware, the Creil factory donated some specimens of faïence fine covered with transfer-printed “Chino-English” motifs (MNC 1667). The Sarreguemines factory again distinguished itself with stoneware of high quality, this time with colored paste decoration (MNC 1681).

In 1836 the Montereau factory experimented with the application of red pigments on opaque porcelain by means of transfer printing. Among these colors were a stannous chrome red glaze called “pink-color,” a red prepared in the Sèvres laboratories by Malagutti. An “English” red provided in 1805 by the Tournai-based producer Bettignies, and another developed by Gratien Milliet, the director of Montereau, were also used. The museum received an example of each attempt (MNC 2002).

Additional innovations were introduced by master glassmakers, such as Bontemps of the Choisy-le-Roi works and Godart of Baccarat. They presented pieces with pressure-molded decoration resembling diamond cutting (MNC 1725). Some of the Baccarat pieces featured arabesque motifs in relief set against rough-grained grounds (MNC 1717). Seiler of the Saint-Louis glassworks presented an array of similar objects, some of which found a place in the museum’s collection (MNC 1718). The imaginative work of Jacob Petit, a porcelain maker, was admired by Brongniart, and many bibelots produced by him also became part of Sèvres’s collection (MNC 1589 and 1695).

Also in 1836 several examples of glasses produced by the baron de Klinglin in collaboration with the Sèvres painting-on-glass workshop (see chap. 7) entered the collection (MNC 2021); some of them were painted by Louis Robert, who headed the workshop from 1839 to 1854. Another glass (MNC 2722.6), this one with flat sides and made to resemble agate, was donated by Seiler of the Saint-Louis glassworks.

A professor named Chevreuse, who had previously taught chemistry at the school of artillery engineering in Metz, had established a factory in nearby Bordes for the production of tiles that looked like slate. In 1838 he proudly donated three samples, which had been hollowed in a way devised by him to prevent warpage, or “the buckling caused by firing.” At that date, however, he was still having difficulty producing a uniform slate color economically.133

A porcelain maker named Halot, in an attempt to reduce production costs, began to use a decorative process developed by Noualhier whereby the ground color was brushed on the porcelain by hand before the high-temperature firing. To document his efforts, he donated several pieces, including a small brownish coffee cup with a faceted body (MNC 2519.3).

At the 1839 exhibition, the ceramist Utzschneider presented several objects of unusual sophistication. Brongniart succeeded in obtaining one of these baluster vases made of stoneware resembling jasper with inlaid decoration consisting of a reddish paste (MNC 2686.1). After it was fired, the piece had been polished on a lapidary lathe.134 David Johnston, director of a newly established factory in Bordeaux, donated some imaginative stoneware designs made from paste of various colors, including a teapot in the shape of a beehive (MNC 2683.2). Discry, a Parisian porcelain maker, displayed pieces with blue decoration under immersion glazes that were greatly admired and were duly solicited for the collection (MNC 2700.5). Du Tremblay contributed several enamel wall tiles (MNC 2701) from the new Rubelles factory, which he had launched in partnership with Bourgoing.

The 1830s saw many technological advances in the field of ceramics production at Sèvres, and in the ensuing decade a new generation of manufacturers was able to survive on this remarkable inheritance often without pursuing comparable initiatives of its own. Especially noteworthy were the submissions of Bonnet of Apt, who produced faïence fine from a marbled paste that could be used for delicate relief work (MNC 3024,entered the collection in 1842). Ziegler donated a large number of stoneware pieces of Moorish and Gothic Revival inspiration in 1842, all produced in his factory in Voisinlieu.135 In 1844 Creil presented objects made of a new ceramic material, a hard earthenware called pétrocérame (MNC3325), and that same year Gosse sent cups “made of reinforced porcelain for use by café-keepers.”136

Glassmakers continued to experiment with color in hopes of renewing their decorative vocabulary, looking to Venice for guidance. After the 1839 exhibition at the Louvre, a glass with a stem resembling a twisted cord, made by Bontemps, was accessioned by the museum. A year later Bontemps sent a water jug whose entire surface was covered with filigree work, and in 1843 Nocus and Bredghem of the Saint-Mandé glassworks donated a stemmed cup (MNC 3079) whose thin walls were also decorated with filigree. At the 1844 exhibition Bontemps exhibited a goblet made of millefiori (MNC 3555.1), and in 1846 Seiler of the Saint-Louis works donated another millefiori piece (MNC 3637). Baccarat followed suit by presenting an elegant ewer decorated with blue and white filigree (MNC 3727).

Exchanges with Foreign Manufactories

Brongniart had no intention of allowing France’s borders to limit the museum’s assembly of contemporary ceramic and glass production. From the beginning, he established working relationships with other European manufactories to facilitate exchanges. The cooperation of these establishments was contingent upon favorable political circumstances, but overall they proved extremely worthwhile, resulting in the museum’s acquisition of some remarkable pieces. A spirit of scientific enquiry was to govern the exchanges. As in the Enquête des Préfets, the participants were asked to fill out a questionnaire prepared by Brongniart. The transactions involved both finished work and raw materials.

In December 1805 Brongniart submitted to the Vienna manufactory a set of twenty-six questions about their sources of kaolin, procedures for cleaning it, the grinding of feldspar, the preparation of clay for saggars, the wood fuel used, the composition of the pastes, glazes, and colors, techniques for making relief ornament in gold and other materials, and the problems usually encountered with painted and gilded decoration. He also requested drawings of kilns, samples of all colors in raw and fired states, and information about payroll management (he wanted to know whether they paid their workers by the day).137

Although some manufactories, such as Meissen, were not receptive to such invasive inquiry,138 others, such as the manufactory at Vienna, responded cordially. To some extent, this may have been influenced by Brongniart’s previous demonstration of good faith. In 1804 through chevalier Landriani, he had sent two samples of metallic oxide to Vienna for use in preparing a rose porcelain glaze.139 Perhaps because of this, Matthias Niedermayer, director of the Vienna manufactory, obligingly answered Brongniart’s questionnaire and, beginning in July 1806, sent two deliveries.140 The first consisted of raw materials, namely clay samples, and the second contained twenty pieces of Vienna porcelain. He also complied with Brongniart’s request for samples, sending enamels and metallic lusters used in the manufactory’s workshops (MNC 470.20). The shipment also contained a painting on a porcelain plaque by Joseph Nigg (MNC 470.18) after a flower painting by Van Huysum, some small coffee cups (MNC 470.1 and 470.2) showing Middle Eastern influence, a few flawed blanks, and two cups and saucers, one with ultramarine grounds and silver decoration and the other with a new yellow-orange ground.141 Sèvres reciprocated in 1808 with a delivery of sixteen pieces, among them a small vase with a glost-fired black ground and Chinese decoration, a cup with a green ground color that had a low luster, a soup cup on which all of Sèvres’s available colors and gilding were systematically displayed, and several cups painted by Sèvres’s best painters: Jacquotot, Drouet, and Swebach.142 Some thirty years later, in 1838, Baumgartner, the director of the Vienna factory, sent more pieces and another set of samples of the colors and metallic lusters used there (MNC 2517).

In November 1805 Brongniart met Friedrich Philipp Rosenstiel, who was director of the Berlin manufactory from 1802 to 1832 and had come to Paris to present some vases being given to the empress Josephine by Luise, queen of Prussia.143 In late December 1805 Brongniart prepared a few pieces for Rosenstiel in reciprocation for those that had been presented to Sèvres.144 This was not the end of the exchange, however, for early in 1806 Rosenstiel sent a case containing fifteen pieces made in Berlin.145 The delivery included several cups and saucers (MNC 492.2) painted to resemble pietra dura, a superb conical cup decorated with an Egyptian landscape set against an imitation mosaic ground, with a gilded interior (MNC 492.5), a cup and saucer with gold and silver decoration, several soft-paste pieces, and some examples of hygioceramics.146

In November 1808, thanks to the efforts of “M. Schwerin, member of the Central Council of Bavarian Mines,” Brongniart received samples of raw materials and completed pieces from the manufactory in Nymphenburg.147 Of the twenty-eight objects in this delivery, the most notable were a cup and saucer (MNC 486.9) decorated with baskets of flowers signed “Reis,” a cup (MNC 486.7) with glost-fired black ground decorated with a gold frieze, several cups (MNC 486.11, 486.12, 486.13) bearing medallion portraits of members of the Bavarian royal family, some biscuit pieces and even a paperweight shaped like a sphinx and covered with a copper luster.

By contrast, Brongniart’s requests were little appreciated by the Meissen porcelain manufactory. Annoyed by the terse reply from the manufactory, he wrote to the Intendant Général, observing that “the secret of porcelain amounts to nothing now that it is general knowledge.”148 He refused to admit defeat and rerouted his request through Steinhauer, the minister of Saxony. This strategy proved successful, and the eagerly awaited delivery arrived in early January 1809.149 It included samples of kaolin and clay for saggars as well as a total of twenty-three pieces of glazed and biscuit porcelain, many of them dating to the late eighteenth century. Several of the cups (MNC 469.15) were decorated only with sprays of flowers or flowered wreaths, maximizing the effect produced by the brilliant white paste. A hot-chocolate cup featured a novel dark brown ground with a mosaic decoration, and two other chalice cups (MNC 469.16, 469.17) had handles resembling coiled snakes.

From the Fürstenberg manufactory, Brongniart received a delivery in 1807 consisting of several cups with glost-fired blue grounds and an impressive assortment of seventy-six biscuit busts of Greek, French, and German philosophers, Roman emperors, mythological heroes, and reigning European monarchs and emperors as well as Johann Winckelmann, Henri Le Léon, and Anton Mengs, among others. At the conclusion of the Treaty of Vienna (1814), the duchy of Brunswick sought reparation for the seizure of these goods.150 When Captain Mahner, Brunswick’s representative, came to Sèvres, Brongniart made a point of explaining to him the disinterested nature of the exchanges, but he also made it clear that he would readily surrender most of the busts, for in fact they had taught him nothing. In the end he retained eight of them.151

Initiating exchanges with Russia required much more effort and patience on Brongniart’ s part. In 1810 he had made known his intentions directly to Prince Alexei Kuratin when the latter visited the Sèvres manufactory, but nothing came of this. In 1824 Brongniart sent a detailed request to the administration of the imperial manufactory in Saint Petersburg and was sent some clay samples but nothing more.152 In September 1830 the secretary of the French embassy to Russia, Charles de Bourgoing, sent Sèvres a few pieces from the Poskachina factory as well as some vases, teapots, cups, and white porcelain from the Saint Petersburg manufactory.153 In 1837 Brongniart wrote directly to Baron Meyendorf, advisor to the Russian state, asking that he arrange for the delivery of some recent productions of the Saint Petersburg manufactory. Brongniart noted that during a visit to Potsdam he had seen some of its vases in a palace and been impressed by their high quality.154 Nine objects from Saint Petersburg finally arrived in 1839, notably a vase (MNC 2815.1) with a glost-fired blue ground and gold decoration, a plate (MNC 2815.3) with a landscape painted by Pierre Stechetine after a composition by Moucheron as well as a gold frieze in relief on its rim, and an inkwell (MNC 2815 .17) in the form of a shell and two pieces of coral. Brongniart’s difficulties were not yet at an end, however, as he was severely reprimanded by the Intendant Général for having negotiated directly with Russia without going through appropriate channels. An official named de Wailly of the intendant’s office chided him with the statement, “relations with the Russian court are so very delicate….”155

Brongniart as Collector

Brongniart, as a mineralogist and the director of the preeminent porcelain manufactory, was very much at ease with the technological ferment of the first half of the nineteenth century. Wanting to investigate new processes and mechanical inventions that interested him first-hand, he became an avid European traveler, beginning with an 1802 trip to England. The fact that many directors of European porcelain-producing establishments, especially in Germany, were either also mineralogists or affiliated with the mining industry tended to work in his favor, making them more receptive to his requests for access, information, and samples.156 Brongniart also attended scientific congresses, never forgetting the museum and always doing his best to gather suitable objects for the collection.

On these trips Brongniart made extensive records of everything that interested him. Paste-making materials, the number of pieces per firing, retail prices, the size of the staff needed for various fabrication processes were all duly noted. He also made sketches of tools, kilns, and innovations and was equally curious about everything pertaining to the history of the manufactories that he visited.

In 1812 Brongniart left for the German duchies and principalities. His primary purpose was to learn about firing processes used in Berlin – “very different from those at Sèvres – as well as about kilns in Bohemia that ostensibly used less fuel.157 At Meissen, thanks to the cooperation of its director, Count Camille Marcolini, Brongniart was able to visit the workshops and kilns.

In 1820 on a tour of Italy, Brongniart obtained a porcelain plate (MNC 730.1)decorated with a plum-tree branch, which had been produced at the Ginori factory in Doccia. He also brought back some fine earthenware from Vicenza and Le Nove. He was interested in soft-paste porcelain produced by the Cozzi factory in Venice, which had closed eight years earlier, and acquired a sample (MNC 764).

In 1824 Berzelius, the secretary of the Academy of Sciences in Stockholm, invited Brongniart to Sweden.158 While en route he visited the royal manufactory in Copenhagen, where he selected fourteen pieces of hard-paste porcelain (MNC 834), mostly decorated with twigs painted in blue underglaze colors. In Denmark he obtained some black pottery (MNC 832) given a high luster by burnishing and some glazed pottery (MNC 833) from the island of Bornholm. At the Rörstrand factory in Sweden, he chose fourteen pieces of fine earthenware exemplifying the range of ground colors used there. It was probably also in Sweden that he found eight pieces of stoneware (MNC 872)identified as having been produced in “Helsinborg in Scania” as well as three small refractory pottery crucibles (MNC 873) intended for use by goldsmiths.

Invited to a “gathering of all the scientists in Germany” scheduled to begin in Bonn on September 16, 1835, Brongniart planned to visit Strasbourg, Mayence, and Stuttgart as well as to make a brief quick trip to Holland.159 He also took advantage of the opportunity to visit large-scale operations like those of Boch-Buschmann in Mettlach and Utzschneider in Sarreguemines (Lorraine). In all likelihood, it was this stopover at Sarrequemines that prompted Utzschneider to donate to the museum another precious Medici form vase (MNC 1945.2) made from paste resembling granite that had been cut and polished on a lapidary lathe as well as a pair of candelabra torcheres (MNC 1936.13) entirely covered with gold luster. The Boch-Buschmann firm was generous as well, adding to the collection a twenty-piece creamware service with transfer-printed decoration (MNC 1941).

Brongniart made many purchases in Frankfurt and Bonn, especially Bohemian glassware, whose rich colors were the envy of French producers. A cordial meeting with a man named Steigerwald, the brother of the director of the Hayda glassworks in Bohemia,160 resulted in another donation of Bohemian glass. A purplish red champagne glass (MNC 1982.1), a chalice glass (MNC 1922.9) in a delicate shade of rose, and an amethyst-colored decanter (MNC 1982.6) were sent to Sèvres, along with several trays (MNC 1978) decorated with a variety of cut patterns.

While in Frankfurt, he acquired a plate (MNC 1969) with the ridged decoration typical of recent Meissen work. In Bonn, he found a teacup (MNC 1970) produced at the Gotha factory decorated with a view of Bonn within a reserve as well as a cup and saucer (MNC 1972.5) from Ravenstein decorated with purple “Chinese” motifs.

In 1836 Brongniart decided to visit London and Staffordshire with return trips through Berlin, Dresden, Bohemia, and Bavaria.161 On arriving in London, he was received at the Royal Society and obtained letters of recommendation from many of its scientist members prior to visiting the Staffordshire ceramic factories. He also stopped at “most of the porcelain, earthenware, and stoneware shops” in the capital “to get an idea of the character of the products.” Accompanied by the Reverend W. Buckland, a professor of mineralogy and geology, he went to examine the Worcester porcelain factory. Thomas Grainger gave him some samples of raw materials used in his factory, which Brongniart found to be particularly interesting because they confirmed the English use of crushed bone in their paste. En route to Birmingham he took a side trip to Stonebridge to see its stoneware factory. In Derby, at the Wood factory in Burslem, he was amazed by the large quantities of ware produced.162 Back in London, he made several purchases intended for the collection: six Wedgwood creamware plates(MNC 2139.7), a Davenport plate (MNC 2151) with an “Indian decoration in green and pink-colour,” and several Davenport cut crystal glasses (MNC 2260 and 2259), which were sometimes tinted.

Returning to the Continent, Brongniart proceeded to the Fürstenberg factory to examine recent advances made there. From there he traveled to Berlin, where, guided by von Humboldt and warmly received by Christoph Georg Frick, director of the Royal Porcelain Manufactory, he made a large selection of porcelain for the museum: forty-eight pieces, including tableware – notably a saucer with stamped heart motifs against a gray glaze-fired ground – visiting a factory near Berlin that produced hygioceramics.163

The next stop on Brongniart’s itinerary was Meissen, where he met with Kühn, the director of the manufactory and also a mining engineer. There he was able to examine the new jigging machines for the shaping of plates.164

In Dresden he was accompanied by Klemm, the curator, through the Palais Japonais, and he paid an extended visit to the Messerschmidt pottery and stove factory. He acquired a few pieces of utilitarian pottery made by local craftsmen near Pirna.165 In Silesia he made a stop at the Carlstahl factory, where he obtained several cut glass goblets as well as a test tube (MNC 2175.1) about 19 3/4 inches high (50 cm).

In the environs of Carlsbad he found many porcelain and earthenware factories. The former were of special interest because they produced porcelain without using feldspar.166 In Elbogen he chose to visit the factory run by the Haïdinger brothers, where he obtained several pieces, notably a small deep-blue coffee cup (MNC 2249.16). While in Hammer he visited the factory operated by Fischer,167 a fellow mineralogist and geologist, and acquired a small octagonal tray (MNC 2250.5) for playing Boston, a card game that was popular at the time.

In Ratisbonne, he selected for the museum a hot-chocolate cup (MNC 2259.19) on three claw feet and decorated with a view of the principal church of the city from the Schwerdtner factory.

He remained longer in Munich, where he toured the Nymphenburg porcelain factory accompanied by Schmitz. He managed to obtain samples of its raw materials,168 but the high point of the visit was the local porcelain, earthenware, and pottery fair. In a letter to Sèvres, he noted that ceramic production was “often quite bizarre in this part of Germany,” continuing with manifest satisfaction: “you can imagine what a harvest I gathered.”169

Scientists as Collectors

These acquisitions were not sufficient to fill the museum’s showcases, and they certainly did not quench Brongniart’s curiosity. He was always seeking individuals who shared his interests, and he found many natural allies among those who taught the sciences. Mieg, a professor of chemistry and physics in Madrid, for example, was especially energetic on Sèvres’s behalf. He collected a considerable number of objects from all over Spain for the museum. In addition to earthenware and pottery from Valencia, Alcora, and Talavera de la Reyna, he sent examples of glazed pottery (MNC 1091 - 1113) from Andalucia and Estramadura, and he also arranged for the royal manufactory at Moncloa to deliver some pieces (MNC 1116 and 1118), which were produced, “like opaque French porcelain,” with “kaolin clay from Galapagar.” In 1834 Wöhler, a professor of chemistry in Kassel, arranged for the delivery of samples of local ceramics production, including terracotta architectural ornaments (MNC 1743).

Brongniart solicited the aid of a professor of chemistry named Walter, who was in Cracow, to obtain examples from that area of eastern Europe, which was not yet represented in the collection. In 1841 Walter sent thirty-four pieces of earthenware, ordinary pottery, and glassware that he had obtained in Cieszyn, Lublin, Frywald, and many other localities.170 From Krasnoyarsk in 1844, a professor of chemistry named Hann, at the Polytechnic School in Warsaw, sent a goblet (MNC 3399) made of dark blue glass and two small glass burettes (MNC 3400) for applying oil.

The United States

In 1826 Brongniart received a delivery of materials from the United States, sent by Chanou. This superb gift included “white clay suitable for the fabrication of saggars found at Cape Hope in Massachusetts, clay for the fabrication of stoneware from South Amboy, New Jersey, materials for the production of earthenware from Burlington County, New Jersey, clay for ordinary pottery from Chester, Pennsylvania, etc.”171 Also included were some porcelain blanks (MNC 911) made in New York with local materials by Ducasse and Chanou himself. To complete this part of the museum’s collection, Brongniart appealed to a former student named Ducatel, who had studied the basics of mineralogy at the Collège Duplessis.172 In 1836 Ducatel, who was by then teaching chemistry in Baltimore, sent his former professor six cases overflowing with raw materials and finished pieces.

The first case contained red bricks made with a presser; Ducatel apologized for having been unable to obtain the design of the machine, known as “Willard’s Patent Brick Presser.” The second case contained refractory bricks that, by his report, were “considered superior to the English bricks from Stourbridge.” The third case contained various stoneware articles, such as a gallon jar, a quart jar, and a cider jug. The fourth case was completely filled by a large stoneware cask intended for use in taverns (capacity 43 gallons). The fifth case contained chamber pots, flower vases, coffee pots, jugs of various kinds, and some hospital bedpans. The sixth case contained window glass; all attempts to produce glassware and crystal in Baltimore, however, had failed.173

In 1836, Brongniart sent a letter to a professor of chemistry named Silliman at Yale University, describing his goals for the Sèvres museum and asking him to collect whatever objects he could for the collection and to encourage others to do the same. Silliman decided that the most efficient way to handle Brongniart’s request would be to publish excerpts from his letter; these appeared in the October issue of The American Journal.174 As for Silliman himself, he sent some examples of hard-paste porcelain made in Philadelphia (MNC 2422).

In a letter dated January 6, 1837 to a mineralogist named Keating in Philadelphia, Brongniart hinted at a certain resignation and moderated his demands. Opting for realism in the face of the vastness of the American territory, he said he would content himself with information about “the most notable [ceramics factories] in the northern and southern United States.”175

Historical Pieces

For a quarter of a century the growing collection of the Sèvres museum corresponded quite closely to the program described by Brongniart in his letter of 10 thermidor year 9 (July 30, 1802) to the ministre de l’intérieur.176 The two principal elements of the collection were, at that early date, an ensemble of antique vases and another of far eastern productions. Its originality resided in its presentation of modern porcelain of prestigious provenance but also, and above all, in that of ordinary pottery.

During the time of Brongniart’s early education, neoclassicism had been the dominant aesthetic expression and the rococo had become outdated. This background later may have made him insensitive to the charms of the rococo and often indifferent to the qualities of earlier European productions. Historical pieces, however, gradually entered the collection, not on the basis of their various aesthetic merit but rather as evidence of the evolution of technical processes.

Brongniart’s acquisition policies as well echoed tendencies then pervasive in French culture. The development of the Louvre’s collection after the end of the Empire indicates a renewal of interest in indigenous production. In 1824 the first Durand collection was acquired by the Louvre in its entirety for the sum of 480,000 francs. It consisted of many ancient pieces; the second installment of the sale consisted of some 97 pieces of Italian earthenware, 114 objects attributed to Bernard Palissy, some Limoges enamels, and some stained-glass windows.177

In 1828 Charles X authorized the Louvre to acquire the collection of the painter Pierre Révoil, which consisted largely of medieval and Renaissance artifacts. In addition to plates and other glazed pieces attributed to Palissy, it also boasted some examples of the richly inlaid “Henri II” earthenware that significantly enriched the museum’s collection.178 In the nineteenth century there was a tendency to consider any French enameled platter or other pottery artifact with relief elements to be products of the workshop of Bernard Palissy. Works by him, or in the style associated with him, were quite popular at the time, largely due to the continuing interest in his writings.

As for what was then known as “Henri II” earthenware (now attributed to Saint-Porchaire), its origins were unknown, a fact that, coupled with its manifest quality, surrounded it with an intriguing aura of mystery. It was both fragile and rare,179 which meant that the few extant copies were especially coveted by collectors. As early as 1812, Héricart de Thury, an inspector of mines and member of the Académie Royale des Sciences, donated a Limoge enamel plate painted by Suzanne Court (MNC 348).

At the Denon sale of 1827 Brongniart acquired a large oval platter (MNC 965-1) by Bernard Palissy decorated with fish and reptiles.180 In 1829 he made two purchases from the dealer Leblanc: a superb Niderviller platter (MNC 1126) bearing the factory’s mark on the bottom and decorated with a composition of shepherds in a rustic landscape, and a large Flemish beaker (MNC 1128) decorated with lion heads which he thought to be of Venetian origin.

The provenance of six pieces of majolica (MNC 738 - 743) that entered the collection in 1820 is not clearly documented, but it seems likely that they were obtained by Brongniart during a trip to Italy. Consisting of four plates, a bowl, and a salt cellar entirely covered with figural decoration, they exemplify the virtuosic istoriato pottery for which Urbino was famous.

The first piece of soft-paste porcelain to enter the collection (MNC 651), a figurine of a Chinese man in a long polychrome robe, was acquired in 1812 as a donation from Brongniart’s mother. It was produced at the Mennecy factory, but the inventory attributed it to Saint-Cloud. In 1824 a former painter at the manufactory named Caron, who was the son of a potter at the Saint-Cloud factory, donated two objects produced at Saint-Cloud: a large earthenware jug (MNC 867) decorated with a blue floral motif and a small soft-paste cup and saucer (MNC 868) decorated with a lambrequin decoration.

Exchanges between 1829 and 1833

Brongniart significantly enlarged the collection’s historical holdings through exchanges made with four dealers: Hairon, Vachée, Collot, and Toppi. Negotiated between 1829 and 1833, these acquisitions included ancient pottery, Chinese pieces, and some Nevers plates thought to be of Persian origin. They were obtained in exchange for pieces of eighteenth-century Sèvres soft-paste porcelain that were duplicates or, more often, were flawed.181 Brongniart obtained several other pieces–notably a round Palissy platter, a Limoges enamel cup, and an Etruscan sarcophagus–at some cost to himself, ceding in exchange twelve white plates and two fruit bowls from his personal service as well as two small rectangular trays from his office. The same agreement called for the delivery of 400 round lids from the manufactory’s inventory.182

Transactions effected in 1829 with Vachée183 resulted in the acquisition of an albarello (MNC 1183; exchange of September 23, 1829) decorated with a man’s profile made by Masseot Abaquesne as well as a Nevers flask (MNC 1167, exchange of August 4, 1829) with grips shaped like ibexes and decorated with figures on two sides. Two Delft plates with characteristic cobalt blue figures (MNC 1193, exchange of September 23, 1829) also entered the collection, preceded by a mother and child figure (MNC 1165, exchange of August 4, 1829) from the Avon factory. An exchange with Hairon brought to the collection a small German bottle (MNC 1169, exchange of August 12, 1829) of white glass decorated with cobblers’s attributes.184

Between 1830 and 1833 several exchanges negotiated with Toppi resulted in various acquisitions185: a remarkable Delft tray (MNC 1266, exchange of May 27, 1830) shaped like a shell, a large lobed platter (MNC 1379, exchange of October 11, 1831), from Rouen decorated with cornucopias, and a wine cooler (MNC 1477 exchange of July 9, 1832) decorated with Chinese fishermen from Strasbourg. The most significant gains for the museum, however, were in the domain of eighteenth-century French porcelain. These included a small wine cooler (MNC 1278, exchange of June 15, 1830) decorated with polychrome bouquets from the Chantilly factory, another wine cooler (MNC 1303, exchange of June 15, 1830) with flowering branches in relief from Saint-Cloud, and a small Chantilly spitoon (MNC 1416, exchange of March 15, 1832) decorated with dragon motifs.

As for the exchange with Collot, it resulted in the acquisition of the museum’s first Moustiers platter (MNC 1524). This piece was decorated with a tiger hunt after a composition by Antonio Tempesta.

Subsequent Acquisitions


Italian majolica was much admired in this period; it was the first earthenware to be represented in the collection, and Brongniart continued to acquire it throughout his tenure. When traveling, he did not content himself with inspecting factories and acquiring contemporary pieces but also sought to obtain older objects from dealers at reasonable prices. In Nuremberg, for example, he bought six pieces (MNC 2109 - 2112 and MNC 2132); one was a plate made in the Urbino workshops and the others were Faenza work with a berettino or a compendiario decoration. At an auction held in 1837, he acquired five pieces (MNC 2470) decorated in the luster technique produced at the Gubbio and Deruta workshops, which were previously unrepresented in the collection. One of these (2470.1) bore the mark of Maestro Giorgio on the bottom.186 In 1838 at another auction, he acquired a gadrooned bowl (MNC 2489) with a quartieri ornament whose well was decorated with an image of Saint Sebastian as well as a large Castelli platter (MNC 2487) decorated with a battle scene. This factory was to be well represented in the collection thanks to a donation made in 1840 by the duc de Luynes. Consisting of twelve pieces for domestic use (MNC 2905 and 2906), such as cups and a sugar bowl, as well as ten plaques, it offered a representative sample of Castelli’s eighteenth-century production. Lucca della Robbia was as celebrated and well known in nineteenth-century France as Bernard Palissy. A tabernacle (MNC 3108) made by him was acquired for the museum in 1843 at the Didier-Petit sale.

Delft Wares

Delft earthenware was absent from the collection prior to the Vachée exchanges of 1829. During his 1835 trip to Holland Brongniart hoped to obtain additional pieces of high quality, but at prices lower than those current in France.187 To his great surprise, the best old pieces were to be had not in Delft but in The Hague. He acquired twelve objects in all, notably an earthenware vase (MNC 1931.7) decorated with peonies in the style of famille rose, a water pot (MNC 1931.8) completely covered with landscape motifs, and a box (MNC 1931.9) shaped like a bunch of grapes. The following year in Nuremberg he added to the collection a gadrooned teapot (MNC 2131) decorated with a large floral motif.

German Wares

It was some time before German earthenware was adequately represented in the collection. Brongniart’s first interest was fine German stoneware. In 1829 he acquired two jugs (MNC 1055 and 1056) from Leblanc, one of which featured characteristic relief ornament heightened in violet. In Nuremberg, many dealers sold wares in the public squares, and there Brongniart purchased four glazed stove tiles for much less than he would have had to pay in Paris.188 He also found a jug (MNC 2119) decorated with an openwork star (illustrated in the Description méthodique du musée céramique)189 and a draining plate (MNC 2123) bearing the mark of Höchst on the bottom.

English Wares

Boudon de Saint-Amans donated a quantity of contemporary English creamware and stoneware to the museum which was also indebted to him for several earlier English pieces. In 1820 he presented a small sulphur-yellow cup (MNC 760) from Burslem decorated with a printed quatrain, and in 1830 a Staffordshire creamware fruit bowl (MNC 1050) decorated with a cross-bar openwork pattern. That same year he also donated a coffee cup (MNC 1243) dating from the first half of the eighteenth century decorated with reliefs of strawberries and cabbage leaves. Brongniart’s trips abroad proved crucial in this domain. In The Hague he found several old pieces, notably a ravishing marbled teapot (MNC 2001) in the form of a shell. In 1836 he was surprised to learn that “old” Wood had established a museum. From this collection he obtained a Wedgwood creamware plaque (MNC 2136) decorated with a relief depicting a stork drinking at a fountain, as well as a coffee pot (MNC 2138) from the Daniel Bold factory decorated with gilded in-glaze letters.190 In London Brongniart purchased some early English soft-paste porcelain including an oval Chelsea goblet (MNC 2174.3) decorated with floral bouquets in the style of Meissen. Albert Way, secretary of the London Society of Antiquarians, expanded this part of the collection in 1843 and 1844, when he donated several pieces of soft-paste porcelain from Chelsea and Worcester (MNC 3212, 3213, 3457-3459).

Spanish Wares

The Carlist Wars caused havoc in Spain. Church properties as well as countless art objects were confiscated by the government and sold at auction. Between 1835 and 1837 Baron Taylor was able to take advantage of these circumstances. He was in charge of assembling a collection of Spanish paintings for Louis-Philippe, and he also obtained objects for Sèvres. These included floor tiles from such prestigious sites as the Alcazar Palace in Toledo (MNC 2382) and the Monastery of San Francesco in Barcelona (MNC 2381), which was slated for demolition. The large Hispano-Moresque platters so admired by Brongniart, however, were not represented in the museum’s collection until 1843, when two examples were acquired at the Didier-Petit sale. One bore the emblem of Blanche of Navarre (MNC 3107.1) and the other that of Castille (3107.2).

French Wares

Many items attributed to Bernard Palissy figured in the dealer exchange agreements of 1829 – 33. Brongniart regarded such attributions with circumspection. A reading of Palissy’s writings had alerted him to the discrepancy between the reality and the myth of the famous potter’s achievement, and in the Traité des arts céramiques Brongniart went so far as to maintain that he had learned nothing about pottery-making and enamel technique from these texts.191

In 1843 he acquired a Palissy platter (MNC 3145) from the antiquarian Beurdeley for the sum of 500 francs, but the following year he refused a similar piece on the grounds that it was not by Palissy.192

The high prices of “Henri II” ware had long placed it out of Brongniart’s reach. In 1837, however, an exchange agreement with the seasoned collector Préaux netted the museum two such pieces, a basin cup (MNC 2447-1) with the pendant necklace of the Order of the Holy-Spirit depicted on its interior as well as a broken lid (2447-2).

With respect to Rouen earthenware, Brongniart had the extraordinary luck to discover a fountain and matching basin with lambrequin decoration (MNC 1564) in a shop in Gisors, in Normandy; he acquired it for twelve francs. In 1837 he visited the factory of Amédée Lambert, on which occasion the producer gave him four pieces of old Rouen pottery (MNC 2437): an octagonal wine cooler with lambrequin ornament (subsequently determined to be from Lille), a tray with a similar decoration, a patronymic jug, and a plate decorated with polychrome flowers. That same year, Garneray, the former director of the museum in Rouen, sold Brongniart thirteen pieces made in that center of pottery production for forty-six francs. Many were decorated with the cornucopias typical of such wares, but they also included a large segmented vase (again, subsequently determined to be from Lille), two plates, and a large platter (MNC 2469) decorated with blue lambrequins highlighted in iron red. It was Riocreux who, in 1843, donated the first piece of blue Rouen ware (MNC 3130), described by him as “violet earthenware by Louis Poterat.”193

In 1832 Brongniart acquired from the print dealer Valardi a yellow and green glazed plate (MNC 1413) from the Beauvais region with an engraved decoration and bearing an inscription along the rim. This important center of pottery production came to be well represented in the collection thanks to numerous donations from Jacques Boucher de Crève-coeur de Perthes, the father of French archaeology. In the course of excavating around Abbeville he discovered Stone Age remains as well as later pottery artifacts, including not only shards of bottles and other objects but a complete blue stoneware flask (MNC 3090) with fleurs-de-lis motifs, discovered in the bed of the Somme in 1835.

It was perhaps thanks to a confusion with Nevers pottery that Saint Jean du Désert work first entered the museum’s collection. At the Didier-Petit sale, Brogniart acquired a superb large circular platter (MNC 3108) whose entire surface was covered with a battle scene executed in blue cameo.

Sevres Porcelain

Sevres’s own production was incorporated into the collection rather late in Brongniart’s life. Brongniart had all of the manufactory’s previously produced molds and models at his disposition, but the public’s antipathy to its earlier productions may have caused reservations about placing them on display.194 A cup and saucer (MNC 698) dating from 1787 entered the collection in 1819, but it was a special case. The pieces were decorated with neoclassical motifs of arcades, incense burners, and a cantharus lamp. In 1823 Brongniart exhibited two cups called coupes ‘Jasmin’ (MNC 819) with gold and platinum decoration dating from 1814, and a year later a teacup (MNC 839) with a red-orange ground was also put on display. In 1826 a milk jug (MNC 961.3) dating from 1804 with glost-fired blue ground and silver decoration was inscribed in the inventory, where it is described as an “historical specimen illustrating the use of various metals in porcelain decoration.”195

It was not until 1835, therefore, that a substantial number of Sèvres pieces entered the collection, beginning with fifty-four hard-paste pieces (MNC 1787) characterized in the inventory as a “sample set of historical shape and decorations.”196 Even these, however, were only from the early years of Brongniart’s tenure; they had been selected from various Sèvres table services dating from 1804 or later. Some of them had remained in the manufactory’s possession because of slight flaws that had rendered them unsuitable for delivery.

Most generously represented was the service ‘Marli d’Or’, which had been begun in 1805 and remained in production into the Restauration. The painters who had worked on it had since become widely popular: they included Nicolas-Antoine Taunay, Piat-Joseph Sauvage, Martin Drölling, Caron, and J.-F. Robert. In contrast, Brongniart could display only three unfinished pieces from the service ‘Olympique’; a single plate from the first service ‘Egyptien’; painted in 1806 by Josse François Joseph Swebach, and another plate from the second service ‘Egyptien’; also painted by Swebach in 1810. There were similarly modest holdings in other services as well. The manufactory had kept only three plates from the service ‘Iconographique Grec’, including one decorated with a profile of Venus by Degault, four plates from the service ‘de l’Empereur’ and a single plate, painted by Bouillat in 1808, from the service ‘Vues d’Italie’.

Between 1810 and 1813 Béranger decorated a scroll vase with a superb composition depicting the arrival in Paris of the many Italian art treasures seized by the French in the wake of Napoleon’s victorious campaign. This showpiece had not found a buyer prior to the emperor’s fall from power, which meant that it remained in the manufactory’s possession. It, too, entered the museum inventory in the 1830s (MNC 1823). Despite its quality, it could not be displayed until the political passions associated with the Italian campaign had cooled. In fact, Brongniart had barely saved it from destruction after the installation of the Restauration government.

At about the same time Brongniart also placed on exhibit a figure of Bacchus (MNC 1830) holding a bunch of grapes. This was among the earliest pieces made at the manufactory with kaolin from the deposits in Saint-Yrieix near Limoges, the first source of this crucial ingredient of hard-paste to be discovered within French borders.

Perhaps the most significant development of 1835 was Brongniart’s long-delayed decision to exhibit soft-paste porcelain. Unfortunately, by this time the manufactory’s holdings had been severely depleted by exchanges and auctions. What remained were primarily pieces dating from between 1770 and 1790. Many were flawed blanks, such as a glass cooler (MNC 1854) from the service made for Catherine II of Russia in 1778. All that remained from the Vincennes years were three plates (MNC 1870 - 1872) in the Saxon style decorated with motifs in relief, a coffee cup (MNC 1878) with a “wolf’s-teeth” decoration, and a few of the polychrome floral bouquets (MNC 1895) that had been instrumental in establishing the manufactory’s reputation.

Having made the decision to include this work in the museum, however, Brongniart began adding to this part of the collection. A plate from the service ‘des Arts Industriels’ (MNC 2011), decorated with a view of the old mill, was placed on view in 1836 and was joined four years later by two more plates (2872.1 and 2872.2) from the same service, featuring views of the sculpture and painting workshops. In 1838 Espine donated a small Sèvres pommade jar dating from 1760 (MNC 2593). Brongniart, in his letter acknowledging the gift, expressed regret about having ostracized such pieces for so long, stating that if he had acted otherwise “this patriarchal part of our museum would not be so impoverished.”197

In 1846 the antiquarian Beurdeley donated a Vincennes bowl (MNC 3675). In a letter sent with his gift, he apologized for its modesty but noted that it had a certain interest because it was painted with “the château de Vincennes, probably the side on which the manufactory was located.”198

The Exchange with Dresden

As early as 1830, in a letter to the vicomte de La Rochefoucauld outlining a travel itinerary, Brongniart wrote: “I would like above all to see once again in Dresden the famous Japanese Palace in which an immense collection [of porcelain] has long been assembled.”199 Brongniart had been obliged to return to Paris soon after his departure because of the outbreak of 1830 revolution. It was not until 1835 and 1836 that these travel plans were ultimately realized. His hopes for Dresden were more than met. “I was sure I would find in this residence … all the elements of a history of European porcelain …. I spent a great deal of time studying this collection group by group.”200 Brongniart even asked Lindenau, president of the Council of Saxony, to authorize Klemm, the curator of the Japonais Palais, to donate a group of duplicates in the collection to Sèvres. His request was well received, at least initially, and an exchange was negotiated. Six large animal figures from the Palais Japonais were set aside for the Sèvres collection, including a peacock, rhinoceros, bear, pelican, and the celebrated chimera (MNC 2274.35).201 Also pledged were ten early pieces of Böttger stoneware. Some had unblemished reddish brown surfaces decorated with pressed relief ornament while others had been polished on a lapidary lathe or covered with a brown lacquer glaze decorated with gold, and still others featured engraved decoration (MNC 2272). A small seated Chinese magus (MNC 2272.1) was donated. This remarkable assemblage was to be completed by forty-one more pieces, including thirty-three porcelains from Meissen with Korean decoration dating from 1720-30 (KJC 2274), which were to be sent after Brongniart’s departure.

Before the exchange could be completed, however, there was a diplomatic dispute over the contents. The Saxon government decided to withhold delivery until the reciprocal French gift was safely in their hands. More importantly, because they estimated the total value of the pieces being ceded to Sèvres at 4,000 francs, they insisted on French objects of comparable overall value. Brongniart was quite annoyed by these developments and wrote, not entirely in good faith: “I do not know how they arrived at such a value, given that the things are most defaced and flawed.”202

It proved difficult to assemble objects produced at Sèvres worth such a figure with the warehouses virtually bare. To make up the difference Brongniart turned to the manufactory’s holdings in ancient pottery, ceding fifteen pieces from the former Denon collection, a vase from the island of Milo, two Etruscan pieces from Volterra, and two small vases sent from Bordeaux by Jouannet. He also sent five vases from Tchanakale in Smyrna and even some stoneware jars, a jug, and a coffee pot from Baltimore.203 This assortment was still insufficient, however, and he acquired pieces of opaque porcelain from Montereau, Creil, and Choisy and had some Chinese reticulated pieces made expressly at Sèvres for the delivery.204 He also located a soft-paste soup tureen and stand produced at Sèvres in 1795 as well as a wine cooler dating from 1798. The group was completed by an imperial wash basin with gold frieze from 1813, a wash bowl from 1815, several pieces of tableware in Etruscan form with gadrooned decorations, a richly embellished coffee pot from the déjeuner ‘François I’, two plates from the service ‘Marli d ‘Or’ painted by Schilt and Jacobber, and a plate with shell ornaments painted by Philippine.205

The Museum and the Traité des arts céramiques

The character of the museum was inseparable from Brongniart’s other great project, his treatise on ceramics, the Traité des arts céramiques. Influenced by the example of Linnaeus in the realm of botany, Brongniart set out to apply a taxonomic approach to the ceramic arts. In 1830 he informed La Rochefoucauld that he had already drawn up a plan for the work.206 All the museum’s resources were brought to bear on its publication, as was the information obtained through correspondence and during his many travels. This data made it possible for Brongniart to fill many of the lacunae in earlier texts dealing with the subject. As seen, Chardin’s publication of 1711 was full of misinformation that Brongniart had difficulty deciphering, and Passeri’s book on majolica (1775) was nothing but a paean to the achievements of Pesaro’s craftsmen.207 Brongniart, by contrast, undertook a rigorous classification of ceramics based on a careful examination of the various materials used in their production. No serious history of the ceramic arts could be undertaken until such a system had been developed. Through the close study of individual artifacts assembled in one place one could determine whether a potter’s wheel had been used, and a careful analysis of glazes and other surface treatments would serve, through comparison, as a basis for postulating the communication of ceramics techniques from people to people. The publication bearing the fruit of all this research and reflection, consisting of two volumes of text and an additional volume of plates, appeared in 1844.

The next year, a companion work entitled Description méthodique du musée céramique, a catalogue of the museum’s collection, was published. It had been written with Denis-Desire Riocreux and adhered to the classification system developed in the treatise, proposing short but concise descriptions by Riocreux of each piece in the collection.

The huge step forward effected by these two works becomes clear when they are compared with publications only slightly earlier in date. One of these, the catalogue of the royal collection in Dresden, written by Klemm and published in 1834, surveys ceramics production from the ancient Egyptians to the contemporary period in a mere sixty-six pages and then describes the museum’s holdings on a room-by-room basis.208 Two years later, De Witte, in his sale catalogue of the Durand collection, decided to follow an iconographic classification according to the subjects depicted on the pieces: mythological, heroic, mystical, civilian, and so on.209

Brongniart and Riocreux’s Description méthodique du musée céramique is vastly different both in scope and approach. In 454 pages of text they analyze the entirety of the museum’s collection on the basis of Brongniart’s new taxonomic classification system and provide a careful listing of all the marks and signatures found on the pieces (compiled by Riocreux). This was the first time any such compendium had been attempted. The accompanying volume of plates contains fifty-five devoted to ceramic and vitreous productions dating from antiquity to the time of publication, thirteen more plates to Sèvres pieces dating from between 1830 and 1845, and an additional ten plates of the manufactory’s glass-painting workshop.

Together, these publications – the Traité des arts céramiques and Description méthodique du musée céramique – represent the culmination of a life devoted to the ceramic arts. During his tenure at Sèvres, Brongniart strove to initiate advances in current production techniques and, more importantly, to improve the understanding of ceramic materials and their historical evolution. It had always been Brongniart’s intention to assemble a collection of pieces of all kinds, dating from all periods, that were significant “from a technical point of view.” His fundamental priorities were never aesthetic: on the contrary, he sought to bring together simple, unprepossessing pieces that offered evidence about the development of fabrication techniques. His determination to encompass the full range of ceramics production made it possible for the Sèvres museum to present a surprisingly eclectic collection at a very early date. With only limited means at his disposal, Brongniart succeeded in assembling a remarkable array of artifacts tracing the medium’s historical development. To a considerable degree, the museum was conceived as a platform to support Brongniart’s scientific investigations, but it was also the first such institution in France to be devoted exclusively to a single branch of the decorative arts. It quickly took on a life of its own, but the history of its acquisitions in this formative period offers a fascinating glimpse of the changing values and interests of learned French society during the first half of the nineteenth century.

© Bard Graduate Center, Sylvie Millaseau.

Note: The documents cited below are from the Archives the Manufacture Nationale de Sèvres (AMNS), the Archives of the Musée de Sèvres (AMS), and the Musée National de Céramique (MNC). In the essay text, the MNC numbers, given in parentheses, represent the museum’s inventory numbers; unattributed quotations have been taken from the inventory notations made by Riocreux.

1.There are 3,800 entries in the inventory, but since many of these include several pieces, the number of actual pieces in the collection is much higher. The numbers assigned by Riocreux continue to be used today.

2.“These are neither art objects notable for their form, composition, design, etc., … nor historical objects notable for what they represent, nor archeological objects notable for their inscriptions; none of these considerations led us to assemble them. Without being formally excluded, [such pieces] were valuable to us only insofar as they contributed to our knowledge of the history of the ceramic arts … [and] finally to the [material] progress of art” [Ce ne sont ni des objets d’art sous le rapport des formes, des compositions du dessin, etc …. ni des objets historiques, sous celui des objets représentés, ni des objets archéologiques sous celuis des inscriptions, ce n’est aucune de ces considérations qui nous les a fait recueillir; sans être formellement exclues, elles n’ont eu de valeur pour nous qu’en contribuant à nous faire connaître l’histoire des arts céramiques … enfin le progrès de l’art] (Brongniart and Riocreux, Description méthodique du musée céramique [1845], preface).

3.Central to this debate was the perceived need to revive the grand genre of history painting. See La Font de Saint Yenne, Reflexions (1747).

4.Ibid., p. 40.

5.The collection of the school in Rouen boasted “plaster casts, prints, an écorché by Houdon, and a few paintings belonging to the director” (Edouard Pommier, “La Naissance des musées de Province,” in Nora, ed., Les Lieux de mémoire 2 (I986), pp. 451-90, quotation p. 457.

6.Bachelier’s school opened on September 10, 1766. See Leben, “New Light on the Ecole Royale Gratuite de Dessin” (1993), pp. 99-118; Birembaut, “Les Ecoles gratuites” (1964), pp. 441–70.

7.Shackelton, “The Enlightenment and the Artisan” (1980), p. 56 ff.

8.Mercier, 1794: L’Abbé Grégoire et la création du Conservatoire (1989); Marot, “L’Abbé Grégoire et le vandalisme” (1980); Bergdoll, “Le Progrés des arts réunis et l’abbé Grégoire,” in Rabreau and Tollon, eds., Le Progrés des arts réunis, (1992), pp. 159-67.

9.Haskell, History and Its Images (1993), pp. 236-52; Dominique Poulot, “Alexandre Lenoir et le musée des monuments français,” in Nora, Les Lieux de mémoire, La Nation (1986), vol. 2, pp. 496-531 (esp. p. 497 ff.).

10.AMNS, Register Vc 2, letter dated 9 Messidor year 8 (June 28, 1800).

11.À côté de terres blanches du département de Ia haute Vienne, les produits industriels qu’il a fourni AMNS, Carton U 1, liasse L 1, dossier 3.

12.[est devenue à l’égard de Paris, la branche de l’industrie la plus considérable]; [celles de chimistes qui se sont succédés à la manufacture de Sèvres…on pourrait offrir aux amis des arts et de l’industrie Nationale, une collection complète dont on se sert, les savants en la consultant pourraient peut-être remplir les lacunes qui se rencontrent dans quelques dégradations de teintes ou augmenter le nombre et la beauté des couleurs primitives] Ibid.

13.[surtout à l’égard de celles de la manufacture de Sèvres…la vente des porcelaines anciennement fabriqués dans cette maison doit avoir lieu le 21 de ce mois…il faudrait le matin de ce jour que quelqu’un fut chargé de mettre à part quelques unes de pièces qu’il pourrait juger convenir au but que se propose le conseil] Ibid.

[14].The passage from his letter reads, “Il serait peut-être encore un moyen de nous procurer quelques fonds pour payer les frais d’établissement, ce serait de faire une vente à l’encan d’un grand nombre de vieilles porcelaines qui encombrent nos magasins et qui nuisent à la manufacture en faisant croire à ceux qui viennent la visiter qu’elle fabrique encore de ces choses gothiques“ (AMNS, Register Vc 2, letter dated 9 Messidor year 8 [June 28, 1800]).

15.[Je crois utile aux progrès de l’art de la poterie et à son histoire de rassembler d’une manière méthodique dans l’établissement national qui a été l’école d’une branche de cet art, et qui doit être celle de l’art entier, tous les objets d’art et de science qui peuvent servir à l’histoire de la poterie fine et commune] Ibid., letter dated 10 Thermidor year 9 (July 29, 1801). Even the title of the catalogue, Description méthodique du musée céramique, as well as its preface, emphasizes a systematic, didactic approach.

16.[une belle suite de vases étrusques]; [une assez belle suite d’études de fleurs, de fruits et d’animaux de différents maîtres et notamment de Desportes et d’Oudry]; (une suite intéressante pour l’histoire des progrès du goût des modèles de tous les vases d’ornement et d’usage que la manufacture a fait depuis sa création]; (une assez grande quantité d’argile et de matières premières de divers lieux et diverses natures propres à fabrication de la poterie] Ibid. The Etruscan vases were part of the Denon collection of ancient pottery, which Louis XVI had acquired in 1786. Shortly thereafter, d’Angiviller, the king’s minister of works, transferred these pieces to the Sèvres manufactory for use as models. See Massoul, Corpus vasorum antiquorum (1934).

17.“The objects are scattered throughout the workshops, and even in the attics. They are in a disorderly jumble, without indications as to place [of origin] or date [of acquisition], in the end they are useless riches that will acquire value only by becoming useful” (AMNS, Register Vc 2, letter dated July 29, 1801).



20.“You realize that it is only by discovery of a suitable clay or mixture of various clays that we will manage to produce white pottery as beautiful as that of the English” (ibid.).

21.Brongniart and Riocreux, Description méthodique du musée céramique (1845). preface.




25.Milet, Notice sur Riocreux (1883)

26.AMNS, Register Vc 8, letter dated March 2, 1829, from Brongniart to the comte de La Rochefoucauld. Riocreux was also placed in charge of the manufactory’s books, prints, drawings, paintings, medals, and models (wax, plaster, and bronze).

27.Ibid, letter dated May 20, 1829, from Brongniart to Riocreux.

28.Milet, Notice sur Riocreux (1883).

29.AMNS, Register Vc 8, letter dated January 3, 1834, from Brongniart to the vicomte de Monralivet.

30.“I noticed a bill in the amount of 200 francs…You should submit special proposals for acquisitions of this kind” (AMS, Carton 1, Liasse 1, dossier 18, letter dated August 30, 1834, from Montalivet to Brongniart).

31.AMNS, Register Vc 7, letter dated November 22, 1825, from Brongniart to the vicomte de La Rochefoucauld.

32.Ibid., letter dated April 10, 1826, from Brongniart to the vicomte de La Rochefoucauld. Sallé was an artist and antiques dealer; the auction of his collection was held on April 11, 1826.

33.AMS, Carton I, Liasse 3, 89 bis.

34.Massoul, Corpus vasorum antiquorum (1934), preface.

35.Ibid., (askos) pl. 40, figs. 2 and 3; (kraters) pl. 31, fig. 11.

36.Ibid., (hellenistic pieces) pl. 23, fig. 26; (black-figure vases) pl. 15, figs. 8 and 10; pl. 16, figs. 4-6, 7-9; (goblets) pl. 17, figs. 2-4, 8-9.

37.AMS, Carton 1, Liasse 1, dossier 18, letter dated February 1, 1832, from Gaspary to Brongniart.

38.Massoul, Corpus vasorum antiquorum (1934), pl. 11, figs. 12 and 13.

39.Ibid., preface.

40.Ibid., (oinochoe) pl. II, figs. 3, 5, 7; (tumblers) pl. II, fig. 2; (kernos) pl. II , fig. 9; (kraters) pl. 12, fig. 1.

41.AMNS, Carton 1, Liasse 1, dossier 17, letter dated February 21, 1842, from Dubuc to Brongniart, Paris; Massoul, Corpus vasorum antiquorum (1934), pl. 23, figs. 34, 35.

42.For the rediscovery of Etruscan civilization, see Pallotino, Les Etrusques et l’Europe, exhib. cat. (1992).

43.Massoul, Corpus vasorum antiquorum (1934), pl. 28, fig. 4; (oinochoe) pl. 28, fig. 27.

44.Edmond Antoine Durand was a merchant who began to collect antiquities in 1799 while traveling in Italy. His first collection was bought in its entirety by the Louvre in 1824. The second collection was sold at auction in 1836, after Durand’s death; it consisted primarily of Greek vases and other pieces that had been removed from excavations in Vulci and Nola in Italy.

45.Brönstedt was the author of a memoir entitled Voyage et recherches en Grèce (nd). No more information on this source is available.

46.AMNS, Register U 15, Liasse 1, dossier 4, letter dated May 30, 1836, from Riocreux to Brongniart, Sèvres.

47.AMS, Carton 1, Liasse 1, dossier 28.

48.Ibid.; Massoul, Corpus vasorum antiquorum (1934), pl. 25, figs. 3, 5, 6.

49.AMS, Carton 1, Liasse 1, dossier 28; Massoul, Corpus vasorum antiquorum (1934), pl. 14, figs. 19, 23.

50.Massoul, Corpus vasorum antiquorum (1934), pl. 26, figs. II, 16.

51.Ibid., pl. 28, no. 5; Brongniart and Riocreux, Description Méthodique du musée céramique (1845), vol. 2, pl. 28, fig. 5.

52.Massoul, Corpus vasorum antiquorum (1934), pl. 1, fig. 19; Maingot, Le Baron Taylor (1963).

53.Massoul, Corpus vasorum antiquorum (1934), pl. 1, fig. 9.

54.AMS, Carton 1, liasse 1, dossier 28.

55.Ibid., dossier 26, letter dated September 30, 1847, from Lavé to Brongniart, Paris.

56.Massoul, Corpus vasorum antiquorum (1934), pl. 57, figs. 8, 13. The place names used in this essay are spelled as they were in the nineteenth century.

57.Ibid., pl. 55, figs. 6-25, 28; pl. 56, fig. 2.

58.Ibid., pl. 55, fig. 9.

59.AMS, Carton 3, liasse 16, letter dated November 16, 1831, from Renaud de Saint-Amour to Brongniard, Lauterbourg; ibid., letter dated December 7, 1831, from Brogniard to Baron Fain, Sèvres; Massoul, Corpus vasorum antiquorum (1934), pl. 57, figs, 1, 2, 3.

60.Massoul, Corpus vasorum antiquorum (1934), (small cups) pl. 56, figs. 4, 5, 7; (goblets) pl. 56, figs 11, 12; (small amphora), pl. 58, fig 31; (oinochoe) pl. 58, fig. 32.

61.Ibid., (vial) pl. 56, fig. 26; (oinochoe) pl. 58, fig. 54.

62.Ibid., pl. 56, figs. 20, 25.

63.AMS, Carton 1, liasse 2, dossier 36, letter dated December 10, 1836, from d’Espine to Brongniart plus a little note unlocated.

64.Ibid., dossier 51, letter dated January 29, 1840, from Brongniart to Larchan, Sèvres.

65.Ibid., dossier 65, letter dated October 8, 1843, from Deville to Brongniart.

66.AMS, Carton 3, letter dated January 1839, from Delanoue to Brongniart.

67.Pomian, Anticomanie (1992), pp. 59 ff.

68.Massoul, Corpus vasorum antiquorum (1934), pl. 60, fig. 23; Carton 1, liasse 2, g9.

69.Massoul, Corpus vasorum antiquorum (1934), pl. 60, figs. 4, 5, 6, 7, 8.

70.AMS, Carton 1, liasse 2, dossier 71, letter dated May 5, 1844, from Olfers to Brongniart, Berlin.

71.For examples of Brongniart’s instructions, see AMS, Carton 1, liasse 1, 2, to Mazinski, dated February 12, 1830; ibid., liasse 2, dossier 6, to lieutenant of the vessel Laplace; Carton 2, liasse 1, dossier 1, to Viquesnel.

72.AMS, Carton 2, liasse 1, dossier 1, Barrot mission.

73.Reyniers, Céramiques américaines, (1966), p. 110, fig. 193.

74.AMNS, Register Vc 8, letter dated May 29, 1834, from Brongniart to the vicomte de Montalivet.

75.Reyniers, Céramiques américaines, (1966), (llama vase) p. 144, fig. 282; (spherical pitcher) p. 145, fig. 283; (stirrup vase) p. 114, fig. 206; (cat vase) p. 115, fig. 209; (geometric vase) p. 131, fig. 251; (Aztec figure) p. 60, fig. 81.

76.Ibid., p. 195, fig. 81; AMS, Carton 2, liasse 2, dossier 5, letter dated December 27, 1837, from Barret to Brongniart, Manila.

77.Reyniers, Céramiques américaines (1966), p. 117, fig. 215.

78.Ibid., pp. 142-43, figs. 275, 278, 279.

79.Ibid., p. 164, fig. 317.

80.Ibid., p. 101, fig. 186; AMS, Carton 1, liasse 3, dossier 75, letter dated March 5, 1843, from Schoelcher to Brongniart, Paris.

81.Reyniers, Céramiques américaines, (1966), p. 169, fig. 329.

82.Ibid., p. 170, figs. 330, 331; p. 171, figs. 332, 333; AMS, Carton 1, liasse 2, dossier 32; ibid., Carton 1, liasse 3, dossier 4.

83.For Brongniart’s instructions to Laplace see AMS, Carton 2, liasse 2, dossier 6.

84.Ibid., letter dated December 20, 1837, from Laplace to Brongniart, Cape of Good Hope.

85.Ibid., dossier 7, Ackerman mission.

86.Ibid., dossier 6, letter dated October 28, 1841, from Brongniart to Rochet d’Héricourt.

87.Ibid., letter dated August 28, 1837, from Laplace to Brongniart, Madras.

88.Ibid., letter dated October 29, 1838, from Laplace to Brongniart, Canton.

89.For Brongniart’s instructions to Darcet see ibid., dossier 7.

90.Brongniart, Traité des arts cèramique (1844), vol. 2, pp. 90-91.

91.Ibid., p. 97.

92.AMS, Carton 3, liasse 46, Botta mission.

93.Brongniart, Traité des arts céramique (1844), vol. 2, p. 92.

94.AMS, Carton 1, liasse 1, dossier 13, cover letter dated May 18, 1830, from Virlet, Modon.

95.For Brongniart’s instructions to Diran dated August 9, 1843, see AMS, Carton 2, liasse 2, dossier 1.

96.AMS, Carton 1, liasse 3, dossier 81, letter dated November 27, 1847, from Visquesnel to Brongniart, “Sulè Bourgas.”

97.AMS, unpaginated manuscript.

98.Comte de Milly, L’Art de la porcelaine (Paris, 1771), p. xxj.

99.[Faïence mimo porcelaine] Brongniart and Riocreux, Description mèthodique du musée céramique (1845), vol. 1, p. 187, caption to no. 240.

100.Slitine, “La cèramique orientale dans les ventes publiques” (1996).

101.[Une assiette faïence commune émaillée en bleu dite porcelaine de Perse] AMS, Carton 1, liasse 1, dossier 12, Toppi exchange.

102.Brongniart and Riocreux, Description méthodique du musée céramique (1845), vol. 2, pl. 39, fig. 15.

103.Ibid., vol. 2, pl. 39, fig. 14. Jules Ziegler (1804-1856) began his career as a history painter before becoming a potter who worked in stoneware in Voisinlieu, in the Beauvaisis.

104.AMNS, Carton 3, liasse 46, Botta mission, 1835.

105.Brongniart and Riocreux, Description méthodique du musée céramique (1845), p. 187, no. 240a.

106.Ibid., p. 187, no. 240b.

107.For a note from Riocreux attesting the loss, see Carton 2, liasse 3, dossier 1.

108.Brongniart and Riocreux, Description méthodique du musée céramique (1845), p. 158, no. 190.

109.Soustiel, La céramique islamique (1985), pp. 292–93.

110.AMS, Carton 3, liasse 2.

111.AMNS, Register Vc 7.

112.Slitine, “La Céramique orientale dans les ventes publiques” (1996).

113.Kaempfer, Histoire naturelle (1732).

114.AMS, Carton 2, liasse 2, dossier 5, Barrot mission, instructions of December 1835 (several pages written by Brongniart).

115.[Il se présente] plusieurs pièces de porcelaine de chine remarquable sous le rapport des procédés techniques] AMNS, Register Vc 7, letter dated April 10, 1826, from Brongniart to La Rochefoucauld.

116.AMS, Carton 2, liasse 2, dossier 6, Toppi mission to London.

117.Ibid., dossier 5, Barrot mission (instructions); ibid., dossier 6, Laplace mission (instructions).

118.Ibid., dossier 6, Laplace mission.

119.AMS, Carton 3, liasse 1, Houssaye exchange.

120.Labit and Lassère, “Le chevalier Boudon de Saint Amans” (1973).

121.For further information on the Enquête de Préfets, see chap. II in this volume.

122.Plinval-Salgues, “La céramique française aux expositions industrielles” (1961).

123.AMS, Register Vc 3, letter dated December 12, 1833, from Brongniart to the comte de Montalivet.

124.AMS, dossier Creil, letter dated October 5, 1823, from Brongniart to Saint Cricq-Cazaux, Paris.

125.For the prototype letter to producer, see AMS, Carton 3.

126.MNC 678 [avaient été soumises, l’une a l’action de l’hydrosulfure de potasse pendant une demi-journée, l’autre à l’évaporation du vinaigre]; MNC 687 [servi journellement pendant deux ans exposé au feu de poële ou de cheminée]; MNC 808 [subir l’épreuve de la fusion du feldspath au grand feu du four à porcelaine]; MNC 1671 [avait fait l’usage pendant deux ans du service de table de M. Dumas professeur à l’Academie Royale des Sciences].

127.AMS, Carton 1, liasse 2, dossier 5, letter dated December 10, 1841, from Brongniart to Tissot.

128.Register Vc 7, letter dated February 16, 1828, from Brongniart to the vicomte de La Rochefoucauld.

129.The language in the inventory describes the piece as being entirely covered with a luster, a new technique at the manufactory at this time.

130.Alcouffe, Dion-Tenenbaum, and Ennès, Un âge d’or, exhib. cat. (1991), p. 35.

131.Ibid., pp. 133–35.

132.Ravel d’Esclapon, La Faïence de Rubelles (1988); AMS, dossier 182.

133.AMS, Carton 1, liasse 2, dossier 88, Chevreuse donation.

134.Brongniart and Riocreux, Description méthodique du musée céramique (1845), vol. 2, pl. 44, fig. 7; Alcouffe, Dion-Tenenbaum, and Ennès, Un âge d’or, exhib. cat. (1991), p. 350.

135.AMS, Carton 1, liasse 3, letter dated June 7, 1844, from Gosse to Brongniart, Paris.

136.AMS, Carton 1, liasse 2, dossier 56, Ziegler donation.

137.AMS, Carton 1, Vienna dossier.

138.AMNS, Register Vc3, letter dated January 21, 1808, from Brongniart to the Intendant Général.

139.AMS, Carton 1, Vienna dossier, letter dated April 1, 1804, from Chevalier Landriani to Brongniart.

140.AMNS, Register Vc3, letter dated July 24, 1806, from Brongniart to the director of the Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle.

141.AMS, Carton 1, Vienna dossier.


143.AMNS, Register Vc3, letter dated November 17, 1805, from Brongniart to Denon.

144.Ibid., letter dated December 31, 1805, from Brongniart to the Intendant Général.

145.Ibid., letter dated February 5, 1806, from Brongniart to Rosenstiel.

146.AMS, Carton 1, liasse 1, dossier 1, Berlin donation.

147.AMNS, Register Vc3, letter dated November 18, 1808, from Brongniart to the Intendant Général.

148.Ibid., letter dated January 24, 1808, from Brongniart to the Intendant Général.

149.Ibid., letter dated January 12, 1809, from Brongniart to the Intendant Général.

150.AMS, Carton 1, liasse 1, dossier 4, Fürstenberg exchange, letter dated October 5, 1815, from the comte de Pradel to Brongniart.


152.Carton 1, liasse 1, dossier 7, Russian exchange.


154.AMS, Carton 1, liasse 2, dossier 44 bis, letter dated November 24, 1837, from Brongniart to Meyendorf.

155.Ibid., letters are dated November 4, 1839 from the Intendant Général to Brongniart and from de Wailly to Brongniart, both Paris.

156.AMNS Carton M 10, dossier 1 letter dated August 12, 1836, from Brongniart to Baron Fain, Munich.

157.AMNS, Register Vc4, letter dated September 9, 1812, from Brongniart to the Intendant Général, Berlin.

158.AMNS, Carton M 5, liasse 3, dossier 1, letter dated March 23, 1824, from Brongniart to the marquis de Lauriston.

159.AMNS, Register Vc8, letter dated August 7, 1835, from Brongniart to the comte de Montalivet.

160.AMNS Carton M 9, dossier 5, letter dated October 5, 1835, from Brongniart to Vautrin, Carlsruhe.

161.AMNS, Register Vc9, letter dated March 5, 1836, from Brongniart to Baron Fain, Sèvres.

162.AMNS, Carton M 10, dossier 1, letter dated June 5, 1836, from Brongniart to Baron Fain, Sèvres.

163.Letter dated July 11, 1836 from Brongniart to Baron Fain, Berlin.

164.Ibid., letter dated August 12, 1836, from Brongniart to Baron Fain, Munich.


166.For Brongniart’s interest in feldspar-free porcelain, see ibid., letter dated July 11, 1836, to Baron Fain, Berlin.



169.AMNS, Carton U 15, liasse 5, dossier 4, letter dated August 15, 1836, from Brongniart to Sèvres, Innsbruck.

170.AMNS, Carton 1, liasse 2, dossier 51.

171.For delivery from Chanou, see AMS, Carton 1, liasse 3, dossier 32.

172.For delivery from Ducatel, see AMS, Carton 1, liasse 2, dossier 33.

173.Ibid., letter dated June 4, 1836, from Ducatel to Brongniart, Baltimore.

174.AMS, Carton 1, liasse 2, dossier 32, letter dated July 27, 1836, from Silliman to Brongniart, New Haven.

175.Ibid., letter dated January 6, 1837, from Brongniart to Keating, Sèvres.

176.AMS, Register Vc 2.

177.Courajod, La Collection Durand (1888).

178.Courajod, La Collection Révoil (1886).

179.In 1844 Brongniart knew of thirty-seven such pieces in private collections (Brongniart, Traité des arts céramique [1844], vol. 2, p. 175).

180.AMNS, Carton T 11, liasse 2, dossier 6, letter from Turpin de Crissé to Brongniart.

181.[Les pièces en biscuit n’étant susceptibles d’aucun emploi sans être restaurées et sont d’aillleurs toutes de rebut, il en reste deux fois autant] AMS, Carton 1, liasse 1, dossier 12, Toppi exchange of May 27,1830.

182.Ibid., Toppi exchange of October 17, 1829.

183.AMS, Carton 1, liasse 1, dossier 11, Vachée exchanges.

184.AMS, Carton 1, liasse 1, dossier 12, Hairon exchange.

185.Ibid., Toppi exchanges.

186.The Debruge and Soulages sale.

187.AMNS, Carton M 9, dossier 5, letter dated September 13, 1835, from Brongniart to Vautrin, Amsterdam.

188.AMNS, Carton M 10, dossier 1, letter dated August 12, 1836, from Brongniart to Baron Fain, Munich.

189.Brongniart and Riocreux, Description méthodique du musée céramique (1845), vol. 2, pl. 37, fig. 5.

190.AMNS, Carton M 10, dossier 1, letter dated June 5, 1836, from Brongniart to Baron Fain, Yorkshire.

191.“Of the twenty-five or thirty sections making up this collection … only one concerns pottery and enamel … [and] it teaches us nothing” (Brongniart, Traité des arts céramiques [1844], vol. 2, p. 62).

192.AMS, Carton 3, dossier 9, letter dated June 7, 1844, from Brongniart to Brond, Sèvres.

193.[faïence violette de Louis Poterat] inventory, MNC 3130.

[194].”All these forms and groups, which five or six years ago were regarded with such distaste that one had to pass by the shelves supporting them in haste to avoid the criticisms that they habitually evoked, now began to be admired and sought after” (Brongniart and Riocreux, Description méthodique du musée céramique [1845], preface).

195.[Spécimen historique d’application des divers métaux à la décoration des porcelaines] inventory, MNC 961.3.

196.[Suite d’échantillons historiques de forme et décoration] inventory, MNC 1787.

197.Brongniart continues, “If only thirty-eight years ago I had possessed the experience of age, which teaches that whatever is rare is deemed valuable” [Ah que n’avais je, il y a 38 ans, l’expérience des vieux qui apprennent qu’on ne fait grand cas que de ce qui est rare] (AMS, Carton 1, liasse 2, dossier 36, letter dated December 30, 1838, from Brongniart to Espine, Sèvres).

198.[le bol a peu de valeur mais ce qui est curieux c’est au fond d’y voir peint le château de Vincennes et probablement le côte où se trouvait la manufacture] Ibid., dossier 72, letter dated August 16, 1846, from Beurdeley to Brongniart, Paris.

199.AMNS, Register Vc 8, letter dated June 15, 1830, from Brongniart to the vicomte de La Rochefoucauld, Sèvres.

200.AMNS, Carton M 10, dossier 1, letter dated August 12, 1836, from Brongniart to Baron Fain, Munich.

209.AMS, Carton 1, liasse 2, dossier 30, Dresden exchange.

210.[Je ne sais comment on aura fait l’évaluation de choses la plupart frustres et défectueuses] AMS, Carton 1, liasse 2, dossier 34, letter dated December 30, 1836, from Brongniart to Montalivet, Sèvres.


212.AMS, Carton 1, liasse 2, dossier 30, letter dated June 27, 1837 from Brongniart to Klemm, Sèvres.

213.AMS, Carton 1, liasse 2, dossier 34, Dresden exchange.

214.[Ce travail dont je suis occupé depuis plus de huit mois] AMNS, Register Vc8, letter dated June 15, 1830, from Brongniart to La Rochefoucauld, Sèvres.

215.Passeri, Histoire de la peinture sur majolique (1775), reprinted in Italian in 1838 (Istoria delle pitture in majolica).

216.Klemm, Die königliche sachsische porzellan-und gefasse-sammlung (Dresden, 1834).

217.De Witte, Description des antiquités … Durand (Paris, 1836).