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Imperial Tea-Service

Cabaret des "Princesses Impériales" given by Impress Marie-Louise to Letizia Bonaparte (Madame Mère) 


Imperial manufactory of porcelain

Hard porcelain, enamels, gold, silver-gilt

Portraits painted by Marie-Victoire Jaquotot, Pierre-André Le Guay and Jean Georget.

Circa 1812


Acquired by Emperor Napoléon Ier in July 1812, the déjeuner is given by the Impress Marie-Louise to Madame Mère, Letizia Bonaparte, as New Year’s present 1813. 

By descent, Marie Désirée Eugénie Joséphine Philomène Bonaparte, countess Campello della Spina, great niece of Napoléon Ier. 

Symons, Inc., New York, circa 1931. 

Twinight collection, New York. 



This tea set is unique by showcasing the Imperial family with one of a kind “gallery of miniature portraits” depicting the Emperor Napoleon Ier, his son the King of Rome, the Impress Marie-Louise, and the imperial Princesses: the Bonaparte sisters and Hortense de Beauharnais and Catherine de Württemberg. 

The miniature portraits are painted after  Jean-Baptiste Isabey (1767-1855) or François Gérard (1770-1837) by the best painters of the Sèvres factory: Pierre-André Le Guay, his wife Marie-Victoire Jacquotot, and Jean Georget. Each cups are painted with one portrait and the pièce de forme are painted with portrait miniatures on each side, the teapot is painted with portraits of the Emperor Napoléon Ier and the Impress Marie-Louise. All portraits are titled in gold painted against a chromium green ground (invented by … during the Empire) enhanced with rich gilding comprising: trellis, eagles, and bees, painted by Déperais and Boullemier ainé and Christophe Ferdinand Caron dit Caron fils (1791-1815). 

The tea set is mentionned in the Sèvres records as : « Déjeuner fond vert portrait de la famille Impériale colorié etc : 4 Tasses en forme Jasmin anse en vermeille 700 (chacune) 2800, 1 theyere Asselin 1500, 1 Pot a sucre Volute 1000, 1 pot au lait Grec 450, 1 Boite 140 ».

Acquired by the Emperor for the huge sum of  5890 francs, it was delivered December 28, 1812 to the palais des Tuileries in Paris  in order to be shown amongst the New Year’s presents : « pour être donné en présent par S.M. L’Impératrice à l’occasion du 1er jour de l’an 1813 ». The exquisite tea set was then offered by Impress Marie-Louise to Madame Mère (ill. 2 et ill. 3). 



It is interesting to note that early 19th century, the word « déjeuner » is used for all services of hot drinks (coffee, tea, chocolate) in needs of a tray. If the service didn’t include  a tray itw as then named a « cabaret » instead of « déjeuner ». 

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