Elephant Head Ice Pail
A PAIR OF ROYAL POUNCE POTS PAINTED WITH FLEUR DE LYS AND
Under-glaze blue crossed swords mark
H. with cover: 8,6 cm ; D. of stand 14,9 cm
Possibly a gift from Augustus II the Strong (1670-1733), Prince Elector
of Saxony and king of Poland, to the court of France on the occasion of the marriage
of Maria-Josepha of Saxony to the Dauphin in 1747
Possibly the pair sold at Christie’s London 5.11.61 lot 59
Private collection, Europe.
An identical model with same stand is held in the Metropolitan Museum of Art,
New-York (inv. 02.5.30a-b)
An 18 ct. gold-mounted example without stand sold at Christie’s, Geneva,
17 November 1978 lot 112
Another model with a lid with pine cone knob published by Gustav von Gerhardt,
Budapest (n.207, pl. 41), sold at Rudolph Lepke auction (Katalog 1623), Berlin 7-9,
A desk set (including an ink pot and a sander) in the collection of the Princes of Hesse,
Schloss Fasanerie, Germany.
This pair of small Meissen vessels, in the shape of a barrel and stand, is finely painted with figures in landscapes within cartouches on a deep blue ground with the Arms of France on circular shields below the Royal crown. The cavetto of the stands is painted with insects.
It is not clear for what purpose these objects were made. It could have either been used as a pounce pot, which would have held a fine sand used to dry ink, or part of a Tafelaufsatz (comprising salt-pot, sugar-pot, oil-pot, vinegar-pot etc.) for the table. A small group of such pieces lead us to think it was not part of a single desk set (only three elements).
These pounce pots or powder pots were probably intended as part of a gift to the Queen of France at around the time of the marriage of her son, the Dauphin, to the Princess of Saxony but likely never sent.
After the death of Marie-Thérèse of Spain, dauphine of France, it was a time of diplomacy to gain favour with King Louis XV, who had to choose between a Saxon Princess or a Spanish Princess to marry his son, le Dauphin. Thus the Saxon court aimed to generate good will at a time of shifting alliances and political activity brought on by the uncertainty surrounding the election of the Holy Roman Emperor.
Because the French court greatly admired Meissen porcelain, the Saxon court sent sumptuous Saxon porcelain as diplomatic gifts to the king of France and his closest surroundings.