Kettle

A work made of hard-paste porcelain, brown ground (fond laque), black enamel, and gilding; silver-gilt and ebony mounts.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of hard-paste porcelain, brown ground (fond laque), black enamel, and gilding; silver-gilt and ebony mounts.

Date:

1783/84

Artist:

Sèvres Porcelain Manufactory (French, founded 1740)
Painting attributed to Charles-Eloi Asselin (French, active 1712–1803)
Mounts attributed to Jean-Nicolas Bastin (French, died 1785)

About this artwork

This kettle, made at the Sèvres porcelain manufactory outside Paris, illustrates a story recounted by the ancient Roman historian Titus Livius, known in English as Livy. In 390 B.C., when Rome was under siege, a plebeian (commoner) named Albinius was fleeing the city, transporting his family in a cart. He encountered the vestal virgins, the guardian priestesses of the sacred flame of Rome, who were escaping on foot carrying their ritual vessels. Albinius offered his cart to the priestesses, thus performing a noble deed exhibiting both piety and gravitas, or seriousness of purpose.The kettle is hard-paste porcelain, made from a mixture of kaolin (white clay made from broken down feldspathic rock) and petuntse (chinastone) that is glazed with powdered feldspar and fired at high temperatures (about 2372° F, or 1300° C). The porcelain is covered with a deep brown glaze, called fond laque (literally “lacquer glaze”) for its resemblance to lacquer. The painters at Sèvres developed this technique in about 1780. The figures, in matte gold and outlined in black enamel, are called figures étrusques (Etruscan figures) in Sèvres’ records, an allusion to the ancient vases that were so fashionable in the Neoclassical era.

Currently Off View

European Decorative Art

Artist

Manufacture nationale de Sèvres

Title

Kettle

Origin

Sèvres

Date

1783–1784

Medium

Hard-paste porcelain, brown ground (fond laque), black enamel, and gilding; silver-gilt and ebony mounts

Dimensions

20.3 × 19 cm (7 15/16 × 7 1/2 in.)

Credit Line

Harry and Maribel G. Blum, Annette M. Chapin, Mr. and Mrs. Fred Krehbiel, and Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Varley endowments; through prior acquisition of Richard T. Crane, Jr.

Reference Number

1998.517a-b

Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email .

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