Frédéric Mitterrand, Minister of Culture and Communication, announces the acquisition by the State, for the Palace of Versailles, of a piece recognized as a work of major heritage interest, a punch jatte of Louis XV’s service with a celestial blue background thanks to the patronage of KPMG.
The punch bowl of the Louis XV Celestial Blue Background Service, with generous dimensions (33.7 cm in diameter, 16.4 cm in height), was made between 1753 and 1755 at the Vincennes porcelain factory for the King, protector of the factory. This exceptional piece belongs to the first large table set, with 1749 pieces. It is in a perfect state of preservation. The dough, the floral decoration, the gilding, exceptional and composed of a fall of piasters and naturalistic motifs, are of a very high quality. This is the first use of the celestial blue background, created by the chemist Hellot for this occasion. Its forms were specially designed for this service by Jean-Claude Duplessis, the best ornamentalist of the time. This punch bowl, whose model was then a novelty in France, testifies to the enthusiasm aroused at the time by the appearance of a drink from England: the punch, then called «ponche», is served at the end of the meal during the dessert service.
The commission of Louis XV’s service took place in 1752. On that date, all the circumstances and the skills were gathered for the Manufacture to undertake the manufacture of such a set. Technical difficulties having been overcome, the establishment could, with the King’s backing, engage in this ambitious project. It is possible that the decision to manufacture this service was even made in 1751 at Vincennes. But manufacturing could not begin until 1753, when the production of the celestial blue background was finally mastered. It was decided that the 1749 pieces, delivered to the sovereign in three times between December 1753 and December 1755, would all bear a decoration of flowers and fruits, inscribed in gold-underlined cartouches. The high number of rooms was justified by the requirements of the "à la française" service and the table decoration. The jatte, of exceptional price for the time, belonged to the first delivery (marked with a letter A), the most expensive with oil pots.
The service of Louis XV, famous since its creation, was used by the royal family until the end of the Ancien Régime. Queen Marie-Antoinette even used it at the Petit Trianon, until the eve of the Revolution.
After the revolutionary dispersions, we find mention of the punch bowl, in the middle of the 19th century, in the collections of Gustave de Rothschild, in Paris.
The punch bowl will join a set of seven pieces belonging to the same service and already presented at the Palace of Versailles, in the dining room called porcelain. It will be a formidable milestone in the acquisition policy carried out, for several decades, by the conservation of the museum in favor of the refurbishment of the Palace of Versailles.
The tax provisions of the law of 1 August 2003 on patronage, associations and foundations, which supplement those of the law of 4 January 2002 on museums in France, create favourable conditions for entry into public collections, through an exceptional tax advantage granted to corporate sponsors, works recognized as of major heritage interest by the National Treasures Advisory Committee.
By making possible the acquisition of this exceptional piece in application of these provisions, KPMG is engaged for the second time in a support program for the Palace of Versailles.