Salt Cellar

1696-1724 (made)
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Europe 1600-1815, Room 3
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Saint-Cloud was one of the earliest porcelain factories in Europe. Established initially as a faïence (tin-glazed earthenware) factory in about 1666, by the early 1690s porcelain was being made at Saint-Cloud thanks to the experiments of Pierre Chicaneau. He is thought to have died in about 1678, but passed on the results of his experiments to his wife and children. The business enjoyed the patronage of the King Louis XIV's brother, Philippe, duc d'Orléans (1640-1701) and was flourishing by the turn of the century. In the early years of porcelain production pieces sometimes bear the painted mark 'St C' and/or a sun mark, presumably indicating that it was made in the reign of 'The Sun King', Louis XIV who died in 1715. The type of elaborate radiating design (known as style rayonnant) is common at Saint-Cloud and was based on slightly early patterns found on Rouen faïence.

18th-century Europe saw major changes in the way food was served at grand dinners, leading to practices that are still with us today. Many new specialised tablewares were introduced, such as tureens and sauceboats, in response to changing fashions in food. This salt, however, pre-dates these changes and is based on contemporary metalware salts used in wealthy households in the late 17th century. Salt was an important source of revenue for the French crown as a deeply unpopular tax 'la gabelle' was levied on it. Nobles and clergy were exempt from paying it, and the free use of this important condiment, was a sign of status in France at this time. The tax was abolished at the time of the Revolution in 1790.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Soft-paste porcelain, painted in underglaze blue
Brief Description
Salt cellar, soft-paste porcelain painted in underglaze blue, Saint-Cloud porcelain factory, France, 1696-1724
Physical Description
Salt cellar of soft-paste porcelain, painted in underglaze blue. Circular with fluted rim and base; round the latter is a band of lambrequin ornament in blue. The well is bordered with similar ornament, surrounding a rosette.
Dimensions
  • Height: 40mm
  • Diameter: 86mm
Marks and Inscriptions
A sun, in underglaze blue
Credit line
Given by J. H. Fitzhenry
Object history
This type of radiating decoration is known as 'style rayonnant'
Subject depicted
Summary
Saint-Cloud was one of the earliest porcelain factories in Europe. Established initially as a faïence (tin-glazed earthenware) factory in about 1666, by the early 1690s porcelain was being made at Saint-Cloud thanks to the experiments of Pierre Chicaneau. He is thought to have died in about 1678, but passed on the results of his experiments to his wife and children. The business enjoyed the patronage of the King Louis XIV's brother, Philippe, duc d'Orléans (1640-1701) and was flourishing by the turn of the century. In the early years of porcelain production pieces sometimes bear the painted mark 'St C' and/or a sun mark, presumably indicating that it was made in the reign of 'The Sun King', Louis XIV who died in 1715. The type of elaborate radiating design (known as style rayonnant) is common at Saint-Cloud and was based on slightly early patterns found on Rouen faïence.



18th-century Europe saw major changes in the way food was served at grand dinners, leading to practices that are still with us today. Many new specialised tablewares were introduced, such as tureens and sauceboats, in response to changing fashions in food. This salt, however, pre-dates these changes and is based on contemporary metalware salts used in wealthy households in the late 17th century. Salt was an important source of revenue for the French crown as a deeply unpopular tax 'la gabelle' was levied on it. Nobles and clergy were exempt from paying it, and the free use of this important condiment, was a sign of status in France at this time. The tax was abolished at the time of the Revolution in 1790.
Bibliographic References
  • Christine Lahaussois, Porcelaines de Saint-Cloud, La Collection du Musée des Arts Decoratifs, Paris (1997), see cat. 17-21 for this form of salt cellar. 17 and 18 are the standard St. Cloud model, c. 1696-1710. The others of very similar form, may be St. Cloud or were possibly made by one of the many Paris workshops, known to have been producing wares in the style of St. Cloud, c. 1700-1730.
  • B. Rondot (ed), Discovering the Secrets of the Soft-Paste Porcelain at Saint-Cloud Manufactory (1999), cat. 61-63.
  • Aileen Dawson, French Porcelain, A Catalogue of The British Museum Collection, British Museum Press, 1994, cat. 3 and 4.
Collection
Accession Number
C.474-1909

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record createdJune 24, 2009
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