Spittoon thumbnail 1
Spittoon thumbnail 2
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Europe 1600-1815, Room 1

Spittoon

ca. 1778-89 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Both men and women in eighteenth-century Western Europe smoked tobacco in pipes and took it as snuff. Taking snuff was more popular and fashionable than smoking. Spittoons like this one were used for spitting out phlegm after smoking or taking snuff. The French philosopher Montesquieu noted that spitting was part of the snuff-taking ritual: ‘I saw the most proud little man … he took a pinch of snuff … wiped his nose so ruthlessly [and] spat with such phlegm … that I could not cease to admire him.’ Sales records from the Sèvres porcelain factory show that spittoons were bought by both men and women.

This spittoon was made by the Locré and Russinger porcelain factory, one of the many which set up in the city of Paris during the final quarter of the 18th century. Jean-Baptiste Locré was a businessman who invested his fortune in building the factory at La Courtille. He invited Laurentius Russinger, a porcelain specialist and sculptor who had worked at the Höchst factory to work there in 1772 and in 1777 appointed him as manager. By the late 1760s the right kind of clay (kaolin) to make glassy Meissen style porcelain, had been discovered in France at Saint-Yrieux, near Limoges. This was used by Russinger to produce a hard-paste porcelain similar to Meissen that could withstand boiling water, which was an important selling point for the factory's wares that they used in their advertisements. The factory also adopted the mark of a pair of crossed flaming torches, reminiscent of Meissen's crossed swords mark. Sometimes known as 'La Courtille' after its location in Paris, the factory is also sometimes referred to as Locré, Russinger and Pouyat - François Pouyat was a porcelain dealer in Limoges who supplied the clay. The factory owed him so much money he became one of its partners and eventually he and his three sons took over.

According to Régine Plinval de Guillebon, this factory ranked among the three most important porcelain works in Paris by 1779, the others being Rue Thiroux and Clignancourt. They made the same type of objects as the famous (but much more expensive) Sèvres factory: a wide range table and tea wares and useful items such as writing sets, toilet articles and tobacco-related items such as this spittoon. A variety of painted and gilded decoration was used from simple floral sprigs to elaborate Etruscan, neo-classical or other fashionable designs. The factory excelled in biscuit sculpture, not surprising perhaps as this was Russinger's speciality. They produced many different mythological, allegorical and family groups as well as individual subjects.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Hard-paste porcelain, painted in enamels and gilded
Brief Description
Porcelain spittoon, coloured floral sprays on white ground, by Locré and Russinger's porcelain factory, Paris, ca. 1778-89.
Physical Description
Porcelain spittoon, flared rim and single handle, painted with coloured floral sprays and gilt borders on white ground.
Dimensions
  • Height: 6.4cm
  • Diameter: 13cm
Marks and Inscriptions
crossed arrows (painted in underglaze blue)
Gallery Label
Spittoon 1778–89 Both men and women used spittoons like this one for spitting into after smoking or taking snuff. The French philosopher Montesquieu noted that spitting was part of the snuff-taking ritual, ‘I saw the most proud little man, he took a pinch of snuff, wiped his nose so ruthlessly and spat with such phlegm that I could not cease to admire him’. France (Paris) Made at Locré and Russinger’s porcelain factory Porcelain painted in enamels and gilded Given by Lt-Col. Kenneth Dingwall DSO (09/12/2015)
Credit line
Presented by Lt. Col. K. Dingwall, DSO with Art Fund support
Object history
Régine de Plinval de Guillebon has writen various accounts the Locré and Russinger Paris porcelain manufactory (see below). Jean-Baptiste Locré de Roissy established his porcelain factory at La Courtille, in rue la Fontaine-au-Roi in 1772. After inheriting a fortune from his father who had been a dealer in braids, he invested heavily in the factory. In December of that year he installed the sculptor, Laurent Russinger, as its Director. Russinger had been the foremost modeller at the Höchst factory. On July 14th 1773, Locré obtained(presumably retrospectively) permission to set up a factory for 'German porcelain' and registered his mark of the two crossed torches. He used hard-paste porcelain clay from Limoges and it is no coincidence that the mark he chose superficially resembled the crossed swords of the Meissen factory. On 10th August, 1787, Russinger purchased the factory outright from Locré, although financial difficulties forced him to enter into a series of complex partnerships. His creditor François Pouyat, a porcelain merchant of Limoges invested in the factory in the form of clay and materials throughout the Revolutionary period and by 1807 Pouyat appears to have been more directly involved in a management role, together with his relations.



The factory appears to have made all kinds of porcelain articles, very much in the manner of its contemporaries. The body resembled Meissen although the palette is different. Plinval de Guillebon cites the Almanach Dauphin of 1777 which listed Locré as keeping a shop on Rue Michel-Comte which sold 'complete table services which withstand perfectly the most scalding liquids and even the fire without any trouble'. They made dinner, tea and coffee services, useful wares such as baskets, ewers and basins, spittoons, chamber pots, barbers' bowls and bidet bowls, tobacco jars, lemonade sets and perfume burners etc. Their biscuit sculpture in neo-classical style is particularly noteworthy, for example; Russinger designed a life-size bust of La comtesse du Barry in 1775 and an allegorical figure of La République in 1792. (see Plinval de Guillebon, 2012, figs. 44 and 85).
Subject depicted
Summary
Both men and women in eighteenth-century Western Europe smoked tobacco in pipes and took it as snuff. Taking snuff was more popular and fashionable than smoking. Spittoons like this one were used for spitting out phlegm after smoking or taking snuff. The French philosopher Montesquieu noted that spitting was part of the snuff-taking ritual: ‘I saw the most proud little man … he took a pinch of snuff … wiped his nose so ruthlessly [and] spat with such phlegm … that I could not cease to admire him.’ Sales records from the Sèvres porcelain factory show that spittoons were bought by both men and women.



This spittoon was made by the Locré and Russinger porcelain factory, one of the many which set up in the city of Paris during the final quarter of the 18th century. Jean-Baptiste Locré was a businessman who invested his fortune in building the factory at La Courtille. He invited Laurentius Russinger, a porcelain specialist and sculptor who had worked at the Höchst factory to work there in 1772 and in 1777 appointed him as manager. By the late 1760s the right kind of clay (kaolin) to make glassy Meissen style porcelain, had been discovered in France at Saint-Yrieux, near Limoges. This was used by Russinger to produce a hard-paste porcelain similar to Meissen that could withstand boiling water, which was an important selling point for the factory's wares that they used in their advertisements. The factory also adopted the mark of a pair of crossed flaming torches, reminiscent of Meissen's crossed swords mark. Sometimes known as 'La Courtille' after its location in Paris, the factory is also sometimes referred to as Locré, Russinger and Pouyat - François Pouyat was a porcelain dealer in Limoges who supplied the clay. The factory owed him so much money he became one of its partners and eventually he and his three sons took over.



According to Régine Plinval de Guillebon, this factory ranked among the three most important porcelain works in Paris by 1779, the others being Rue Thiroux and Clignancourt. They made the same type of objects as the famous (but much more expensive) Sèvres factory: a wide range table and tea wares and useful items such as writing sets, toilet articles and tobacco-related items such as this spittoon. A variety of painted and gilded decoration was used from simple floral sprigs to elaborate Etruscan, neo-classical or other fashionable designs. The factory excelled in biscuit sculpture, not surprising perhaps as this was Russinger's speciality. They produced many different mythological, allegorical and family groups as well as individual subjects.
Bibliographic References
  • Régine de Plinval de Guillebon. Les Biscuits de Porcelaines de Paris, XVIII – XIX siècles, Editions Faton, Dijon, 2012
  • Régine de Plinval de Guillebon. Paris Porcelain 1770-1850, Barrie & Jenkins, 1972, translated from the French by Robin R. Charleston
Collection
Accession Number
C.4-1915

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record createdJune 7, 2004
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