This exceptionally large bowl is painted with radiating lambrequin ornament which was re-popularised at the end of the 17th and the beginning of 18th century by artists such as Jean Bérain (1640-1711) and his followers like P.P. Bacqueville (d.1710). the foot is supported on a double ring to avoid warping.
The dating of Saint Cloud porcelain is bedevilled by the lack of dated examples, but this has the dense blue and high-quality painting of the early wares. There is particularly notable ‘tearing’ of the paste, leaving a rice grain effect on the surface.
A somewhat similarly decorated bowl in the Musée National de la Céramique (MNC9934, Grandjean 1999, p. 141 no. 32) measures 18.3 cm diameter and a slightly later platter in the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris, (MAD11622, Grandjean 1999, p. 150, no. 52) is one of the few larger pieces that we could find at 26 cm. diameter.
Saint Cloud was the first commercially viable porcelain factory of Europe. It was acclaimed by the Mercure de France in 1700 as ‘having had no parallel in all of Europe’, and until the rise of Meissen in the decade after 1710 it was justified in this claim.
Established as a faience factory on the banks of the Seine it was probably under the protection of Philippe II, Duke of Orléans who was devoting much of his fortune to decorating the nearby palace of Saint Cloud.
We are fortunate in having an early report on Saint-Cloud by an Englishman, Dr Martin Lister, who devoted three pages of his Journey to Paris in the year 1698 to his visit to the factory. Dr. Lister, a physician and naturalist and vice-president of the Royal Society, wrote:
‘I saw the Potterie of St.Clou (sic), with which I was marvellously well pleased: for I confess I could not distinguish betwixt the pots made there, and the finest China Ware I ever saw. ……. ‘The ingenuous Master told me, he had been twenty five years about the Experiment, but had not attained it fully, till within these three Years. I, and other Gentlemen brought over of these pots with us’.
Neatly drilled in the side of the foot rim, probably to fit a metal mount
Gilles Grandjean, The Porcelain of Rouen¸ in Discovering the Secrets of Soft Paste Porcelain at the Saint Cloud Manufactory, ca. 1690-1766, Bard Graduate Center for the Studies in the Decorative Arts, New York, 1999, (Bertrand Rondot, editor)