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Gobelet et soucoupe enfoncée

  • Object:

    Cup and cover

  • Place of origin:

    France (made)

  • Date:

    1784 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Sèvres porcelain factory (manufacturer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Soft-paste porcelain, painted in enamels and gilt

  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by Mrs T. R. P. Hole

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Europe 1600-1815, Room 1, case CA23 []

The Sèvres porcelain painter, André-Vincent Vielliard might have seen the dramatic incident depicted on this cup and saucer himself. On 2nd March 1784, the pioneering aeronaut, Jean-Pierre Blanchard, brought his hydrogen gas balloon down only a short distance from Sèvres in the rue de Sèvres in Billancourt. He had taken off from the Champ de Mars in Paris and intended to fly to La Villette; however, the wind blew him south-west towards Sèvres. His daring exploits caused a sensation as this was only the third time Parisians had witnessed such an event: the first successful manned balloon flight had taken place on 21st November 1783, when Pilâtre de Rozier and the Marquis d'Arlandes took off from the palace of Versailles in a hot air balloon made by the Montgolfier brothers. The first manned hydrogen balloon flight had taken place on 1st December 1783, when Professor Jacques Charles and Nicolas-Louis Robert ascended from the Jardin des Tuileries in Paris.

It is not surprising that a number of tea wares painted with this subject are known, as the balloon flights sparked a veritable mania for ballooning and Sèvres responded by creating the equivalent of modern-day souvenirs, albeit for well-heeled customers. Ballooning scenes were also painted on fans and snuff boxes and influenced fashion with puffed skirts and sleeves and even special hairstyles.

Physical description

Cup and cover, soft-paste porcelain painted in enamels and gilded, decorated with landscapes, one depicting the first balloon flight ever made by Jean-Pierre Blanchard on March 2nd 1784 from the Champ de Mars to the plain of Billancourt, near Sèvres. The cover has a fruit and leaf knop, and the cup has a replacement handle.
See C.114-1972 for a similar scene.

Place of Origin

France (made)


1784 (made)


Sèvres porcelain factory (manufacturer)

Materials and Techniques

Soft-paste porcelain, painted in enamels and gilt

Marks and inscriptions

Interlaced 'L's in purple enamel with date letter 'gg'
Maker's mark

a label in purple enamel
Painter's mark of a label (heraldic sign for the eldest son) in blue enamel for Vielliard




Height: 8.6 cm, Diameter: 82 mm cup, Diameter: 149 mm saucer

Object history note

Mrs. T.R.P. Hole Bequest.

Descriptive line

Soft paste porcelain cup and cover, painted in enamels and gilt, made by Sèvres porcelain factory, France, 1784


Soft-paste porcelain

Subjects depicted

Landscapes; Stripes; Hot-air balloon; Fruit; Leaf


Ceramics; Porcelain; Tea, Coffee & Chocolate wares; Science; Sport; Entertainment & Leisure


Ceramics Collection

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