Owner: Thomas Jefferson; by descent to Septimia Anne Randolph Meikleham; by descent to Henry P. Meikleham; by bequest to the Thomas Jefferson Foundation in 1957
Accession Number: 1942-8
Historical Notes: While he served in Paris, Jefferson acquired at least two pieces from a dessert service — a seau crénelé and a sucrier (sugar bowl) — in the guirlande de barbeaux (cornflower garland) pattern made at the royal porcelain factory at Sèvres. This pattern, introduced in 1783 and replenished until the early 1790s, was almost exclusively used for tableware for Louis XVI, who used it to equip one of the dining rooms at Versailles.1 How Jefferson came to acquire parts of this royal service is not precisely documented; he might have purchased slightly damaged pieces from a merchant in Paris or was given or found them at Versailles.
Jefferson's purchases of porcelain tableware in France were numerous, but little is known about the design or manufacture of the lost and presumably destroyed works. Among the many crates of goods ferried back to America were ten dozen porcelain plates, two soupières (soup tureens), five large porcelain platters, forty-two cups and thirty-nine saucers, and other pieces not enumerated on the packing list of 1790, such as the seau crénelé and sugar bowl. Jefferson's chinaware might have consisted of additional pieces of the guirlande de barbeaux of the Sèvres service for Louis XVI, other Sèvres designs, or entirely different designs made by other factories. Jefferson's largest single acquisition of "6 1/2 doz. china plates, a sallad dish & 3 doz. caraffes 166f18."2 could very well have been Sèvres porcelain, purchased from Dominique Daguerre (d. 1796), a merchant prominent for his sale of Sèvres porcelain in his shop on the rue St.-Honoré.3
The seau crénelé, a crenellated bucket used for cooling wine glasses, typically was part of a dessert service that might include several dozen plates, twelve to sixteen compotiers, two sugar bowls, twelve to fourteen tasses à glace (ice cream dishes) and two trays to hold them, two seaux à glace (serving containers for ice cream), and two seaux crénelés.4 Jefferson's surviving seau was decorated by Geneviève Le Roy Taillandier, the wife of Vincent Taillandier (1736-1790), a Sèvres painter, gilder, and burnisher. Until her marriage, she was a painter in the factory. Later, Mme. Taillandier was paid à la pièce for work that she did at home, chiefly painting garlands, flower sprays, and bouquets on tea and service wares and plaques.5 The seau bears the mark of her husband, a fleur-de-lis.6 Although it is not known when Jefferson's seau was painted, Mme. Taillandier was paid for painting guirlandes de barbeaux on twenty-two seaux à verres on December 14, 1782, and four seaux on April 9, 1788.7
A similarly decorated elaborate sugar bowl, which also belonged to Jefferson, is marked with the symbol of the Sèvres factory, two interlaced Ls, "jj" signifying the year 1786, and the mark of the painter, "Y."8 The painter was probably Geneviève-Louise Bouilliat, the wife of Edmé-François Bouilliat (1739/40-1810). Bouilliat was a well-known painter of ceramics who did quite elaborate work in the 1780s such as allegories, landscapes, flying birds, as well as floral decorations. His wife, who began her career in 1777, is more likely to have painted the sucrier. She was paid for applying guirlandes de barbeaux to three sucriers de table on January 15, 1786, which were fired on February 5, 1786.9