The complete set of 50 plates, representing 250 watercolors categorized by period, type and style of original Sèvres pieces, was originally issued over a year-long period in ten installments,. It was a reference work for decorative arts designers and collectors, making it one of the earliest scholarly works on 18th Century antiques. The examples of Sèvres in the prints are attractively arranged in brilliant colors either as singles, pairs or groups, making the chromolithographs fine works of art in their own right. The set’s value as a reference and decorative work is still recognized today; it was reprinted as a book in 1988 by Studio House, London.
Sèvres, a French national porcelain producer, had its beginnings in a ceramic company founded in Vincennes in 1738; it was moved to Sèvres, France (for which it was named) in 1756, with Louis XV as one of its major investors. Up until the 1780s the company had an official monopoly on the manufacture of painted and gilded porcelain. Constant improvements in technology were made, with hard-paste porcelain production beginning in 1768, and permanently replacing soft-paste in 1804. In addition to Louis XV and Louis XVI, aristocratic patrons of the company included Madame du Barry and Catherine the Great of Russia. The ceramics produced included fine figurines, large elaborate vases, and plaques incorporated as decorative panels on furniture. In the early 19th century the factory was nationalized and produced a great deal of porcelain for the personal use of Napoleon. The company continued to operate through the 19th century.
Condition: Generally very good with the usual light overall toning, handling, soft creases, wear.
Pope-Hennessy, John. The Encyclopedia of Antiques. rev. ed. New York: Greenwich House, 1982. pp. 307-308.