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

Egg Cup

1762-1763 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Made by a Parisian goldsmith, this diminutive but superbly crafted gold egg cup is a masterpiece of early Neoclassical design and ornament in the Greek taste ('goût grec'). The egg cup is very similar to a sketch of a vase in an album of designs (mostly for boxes) associated with the workshop of the goldsmith Jean Ducrollay. It probably formed part of a larger assemblage of vessels and utensils known as a 'nécessaire'. The term, which appeared in the early eighteenth century, was a broad one, and could refer to writing sets, sewing kits or to a boxed set of tablewares essential to the preparation of a light meal. In 1776, Louis XVI's Queen, Marie Antoinette, commissioned a 'nécessaire' for her palace of Trianon, at Versailles. The service included two gilded silver egg cups as well as numerous dishes, a mustard pot (with its spoon) and a sugar bowl.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Parts
This object consists of 2 parts.

  • Egg Cup
  • Egg Cup Liner or Cover
Materials and Techniques
Gold
Brief Description
Gold vase shaped egg cup, possibly made by Jean Ducrollay. Paris, 1762-1763.
Physical Description
A gold egg cup formed as a vase. The openwork bowl hung with cast and chased laurel swags, raised openwork foot and a detachable cover or liner.
Dimensions
  • Base of foot to top of detachable cover height: 8cm
  • Across the rim of the cup diameter: 5cm
  • Across the foot of the cup diameter: 3.5cm
Style
Marks and Inscriptions
Gallery Label
This gold egg-cup is a masterpiece of early French neo-classical design. It is in the Goût Grec (Greek taste) fashionable in Paris in the early 1760s. Shaped like an antique vase it looks as if it has been cut from stone and is heavily ornamented with swags of laurel. The egg-cup has a detachable gold liner. What appears to be a working drawing for this egg-cup is in an album in the V&A's collection containing designs associated with the Parisian workshop of Pierre-François Drais, Charles Ouizille and Jean Ducrollay. The proportions and scale of this design are such that it could be easily for a large vase as it could an egg cup. Illustrated with the egg-cup is a sketch for similar object from an album in the V&A's collection containing designs associated with the Parisian workshop of Jean Ducrollay. The proportions and scale of this design are such that it could be used as easily for a large vase as it could an egg cup.(26/11/2002)
Credit line
Purchased with the assistance of the Murray Bequest
Object history


Production
Not marked by Ducrollay but his identity as maker is suggested by the similar design in the Prints and Drawings Department.
Summary
Made by a Parisian goldsmith, this diminutive but superbly crafted gold egg cup is a masterpiece of early Neoclassical design and ornament in the Greek taste ('goût grec'). The egg cup is very similar to a sketch of a vase in an album of designs (mostly for boxes) associated with the workshop of the goldsmith Jean Ducrollay. It probably formed part of a larger assemblage of vessels and utensils known as a 'nécessaire'. The term, which appeared in the early eighteenth century, was a broad one, and could refer to writing sets, sewing kits or to a boxed set of tablewares essential to the preparation of a light meal. In 1776, Louis XVI's Queen, Marie Antoinette, commissioned a 'nécessaire' for her palace of Trianon, at Versailles. The service included two gilded silver egg cups as well as numerous dishes, a mustard pot (with its spoon) and a sugar bowl.
Associated Object
Bibliographic References
  • Carré, Louis. A Guide to Old French Plate. London: Eyre and Spottiswoode, 1931; repr. 1971. SBN 413283208
  • Les Grands Orfèvres de Louis XIII à Charles X, with a preface by Y. Bottinear and O. Lefuel. (Paris: Hachette, 1965)
  • Christie's London, sale 6674: The Dr Anton C. R. Dreesmann Collection: Gold Boxes, Objects of Vertu and Portrait Miniatures. London 11/04/2002, lot 847
  • Brault, Solange and Yves Bottineau. L'orfèvrerie française du XVIIIe siècle. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1959.
Collection
Accession Number
M.11:1, 2-2002

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record createdMay 9, 2002
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