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Saucer - soucoupe enfoncée

soucoupe enfoncée

  • Object:


  • 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:

    The Bettine, Lady Abingdon Collection. 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

Saucer, soft-paste porcelain, with a deep well, porcelain painted in enamels and gilded, decorated with landscapes. Rim hole

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



Diameter: 15 cm

Object history note

Mrs. T.R.P. Hole Bequest.

Descriptive line

Porcelain saucer, painted in enamels and gilt, made by Sèvres porcelain factory, France, 1784


Soft-paste porcelain

Subjects depicted

Landscapes; Stripes


Ceramics; Porcelain; Tea, Coffee & Chocolate wares


Ceramics Collection

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