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This piece exemplifies the fascination of the French court - of all Europe - for porcelain from the Land of the Middle Empire. Louis XVI purchased this cup from the Manufacture de Sèvres in 1774 along with a breakfast service in the same pattern. The date coincides with Sèvres first pieces of hardpaste porcelain: Limoges finally discovered the secret of "white gold" (kaolin) in 1768. The cup is adorned with two scenes: an emperor visiting his garden in springtime and contemplating a cherry tree, as his servant brings him its first blossoms; and a pipe-smoker with his servant, in a moment of meditation and repose. The edges of the cup and saucer are decorated with small friezes of gold, myrtle leaves and foliate patterns with shells.
Replica of a cup made by Manufacture de Sèvres, 1774.