Théière des Indes
Circa 1778
Marked in gold with a crowned interlaced ‘L’s enclosing the letter A
above ‘L’ for Louis-François Lécot
11.3 cm high

Of lobed form with a spout and handle naturalistically modelled as branches, blossoming prunus flowers emanate from them. The lid is also lobed and the finial is modelled as a prunus flower. A brown glaze is applied to the body with flecked gold imitating the maki-e decoration technique found on Japanese lacquer; more gold is applied on the handle and spout imitating the grain and accentuating the impression of wood – a similar technique albeit rarely is also found on Japanese lacquer (mokumé). The flowers are applied with silver decoration.

The letter ‘A’ within the interlaced ‘L’s is curious, it could represent the year 1778, the first year that the date letters were doubled up and it could be a simplified or an incorrect ‘AA’. A sugar bowl and cover, perhaps from the same service, recently sold in Paris, was marked in gold with crowned interlaced ‘L’s enclosing the date letter AA for 1778, and the gilders mark for Louis-François Lécot.[i]  The Philadelphia set has a painter’s mark ‘A’ which has, probably wrongly, been interpreted as the mark of Armand le jeune.

MNS, Archives de Sèvres, R. I. liase 2, dossier 9, fol. 2

In March 1777 the repairer Liance fils aîné was paid for covers for teapots ‘des Indre’ and on 20 June 1778 Lécot was recorded firing five gobelets, a theyere and a pot à sucre described as relief fond brun decorated with fleurs d’argent.[ii]

Cyrille Froissart discussed, in his Living Room Lecture for the French Porcelain Society, a tea service in the sale of Louise-Jeanne de Durfort, the duchesse de Mazarin, in December 1781 which is described as:

lot 160
Un Déjeûner composé de deux Tasses, d’une Théyere & d’un sucrier, fond aventurine à branchages de relief dorés, & à fleurs d’argent. Hauteur ..De la Théyere 4 pouces

Froissart identifies this same tea service as having been in her Cabinet Chinois of her hôtel particulier on the Quai Malaquest. It would have been very much in keeping with her love of Japanese lacquer and Chinese rarities.

Froissart also discusses the part set in Philadelphia that matches this description, although he points out that it cannot have been that particular set as she did not buy any Sèvres in the year before she died in 1781, the year the Philadelphia service was made.

A list of other examples of this group

A tea set, consisting of a teapot, a sugar pot and two teabowls and saucers. The teapot with replacement lid and damaged handle. The flowers gilded in silver.

Philadelphia Museum of Art. These, along with a tray were in Sotheby’s, London, 5 March 1985, lots 118 – 120.

Teapot with a metal chain between the lid and the handle flowers gilded in silver, 1778.
Private collection.

Milk jug and cup and saucer with flowers gilded in silver.
The Sammlung Darmstaedter, 1925, lots 489 & 490

Sugar pot sold at Magnin Wedry, 5th April 2024, lot 602, flowers gilded in silver, marked in gold with crowned interlaced ‘L’s enclosing date letter ‘AA’ for 1778 and gilders mark ‘L’ for Lécot.

Saucer with flowers gilded in silver
Musée National de la Céramique de Sèvres.

Cup and saucer with flowers in silver
Musée des Art Décoratifs

A set with flowers in white, comprising a teapot, milk jug and sugar bowl.[iii]
The British Museum

Mounted pot teapot in with flowers in white, formerly in the collection of William Beckford.
Brodick Castle, Scotland

Cup and saucer with flowers in white
The Art Institute of Chicago.

Minor losses to silvering; small chip to the inside flange of the lid


Dawson 1994
Aileen Dawson, French Porcelain, A Catalogue of the British Museum Collection, London 1994

Darmstaedter 1925
Auction Catalogue: Sammlung Darmstaedter, Europäisches Porzellan des XVIII. Jahunderts, Rudolph Lepke’s Kunst-Auctions Haus Berlin 1925

Froissart 2020
Cyrille Froissart, French Porcelain Society living room lectures July 11, 2020

Price: £35,000

[i] Sold at Magnin-Wedry, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, 5 April 2024, lot 602.

[ii] Dawson 1994 , no. 123 p. 147.

[iii] Dawson 1994, no. 123.