Delivered on the 14th May 1765 to Claude Bonnet, payeur des rentes and agent in Paris for the court of Parma for Philip 1st (1720-1765), Duke of Parma, Piacenza and Guastalla (1748-1765), husband of Louise-Élisabeth of France (1720-1759), Duchess of Parma (1748-1759), daughter of King Louis XV and Marie Leszczyńska of France ;
Ferdinand 1st (1751-1802), Duke of Parma, Piacenza and Guastalla (1765-1802) ;
David Falcke (1816-1866) collection, sold Christie’s London, 19th April-12th May 1858, lots 3012-3020 ;
Herzog von Coburg collection ;
Anonymous sale, Christie‘s London, 2nd November 1998, lot 260 ;
Lady Winifred Hilton collection, Alton Manor, Idrigehay ;
Andreina d’Agliano, ’The European porcelain collection of the Dukes of Parma : Some objects and documents’, The French Porcelain Society Journal, 2015, Vol. V, pp. 67-81.
Philip de Bourbon, son of Philip V of Spain (1683-1746) and Elisabeth Farnese (1692-1766), married his first cousin once removed, the eldest daughter of Louis XV, Louise-Élisabeth of France. Louise-Élisabeth was married by proxy at Versailles on 25th August, and was thereafter known as Madame Infanta in France before departing for Spain. The marriage, which followed a tradition of strategic alliances between the catholic kingdoms of Spain and France, took place on 25th October 1739 in Alcalá de Henares. The couple had three children, Isabella of Parma (1741-1763) who would marry the brother of Marie Antoinette, Archduke Joseph of Austria (1741-1790) the future Emperor Joseph II ; Ferdinand (1751-1801), who succeeded his father as the Duke of Parma ; and Marie Luisa (1751-1819), the future Queen consort to Charles IV of Spain (1748-1819).
The 1748 Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle, which ended the War of the Austrian Succession, resulted in the Empress of Austria Maria Theresa ceding the Duchy of Parma, Piacenza and Guastalla to Philip and Louise-Élisabeth. Upon their arrival in Parma, the residences they were to occupy were sparsely furnished ; the French statesmen René-Louis de Voyer de Paulmy (1694-1757) observed in 1749 that the palace at Parma was bereft of everything, that it had not a stick of furniture nor even a staircase.1 Upon the elevation of Philip’s brother Charles to King of Naples in 1734, Charles had directed the Parma residence be stripped of its contents and furnishings, and that most of the Farnese collection in the Duchy of Parma be sent to Naples. The new Duke and Duchess ordered the restoration of both the exterior and interior of the ducal palaces in the French taste.
On the 14th May 1765, Duke Philip 1st of Parma, through his agent in Paris, Claude Bonnet, bought a large green-ground service decorated with flowers including 144 plates. This service was accompanied by a large tea service consisting of 48 cups and saucers, 4 sugar pots, 2 teapots and 2 milk pots. The whole service comprised 342 pieces to which 40 additional biscuit figures were added, for a total price of 20,906 livres. (Archives, Sèvres, cité de la céramique, Vy 4 f° 37) (fig. 1). The service is then mentioned in the Office et gobelet of S.A.R the Duke of Parma in an inventory dated 15th October 1768, today still preserved in the archives of the Duchy of Parma. It is then mentioned again as complete in a second inventory of 1802 (Briganti, Carte e Documenti- Documents on the arts at Parma court in the XVIII century, Antologia di Belle Arti, 1997, pp. 397-398.).
Much of the service is now preserved in the Quirinale palace in Rome. It is accompanied by an incomplete part of the tea service, namely : 1 sugar pot, 2 milk pots, 8 Hébert cups decorated as the present service with birds on terraces on a green ground, and 31 cups (gobelet Hébert) painted with flowers on green ground.
For a study of this service see : Alessandra Ghidoli, Il patrimonio artistico del Quirinale, Le vaselle, 2000, pp. 113-149, no. 24 where cups and saucers are illustrated, and David Peters, Sèvres plates and services of the 18th century, Little Berkhamsted, 2015, vol. II, pp. 369-370, no. 65-3.
Further examples of tea wares which could relate to the service include a pair of gobelet Hébert et soucoupes polylobées, painted by Evans and dated 1765, sold Christie’s London, 29th October 1973, lot 34 ; Dr. Anella Brown, Sotheby Parke Bernet, New York, 23rd April 1977, lot 59 ; then Kenneth S. Battye collection, Sotheby’s New York, 21st May 2004, lot 160 (fig. 2) ; and a single gobelet Hébert et soucoupe, painted by Evans dated 1764, sold in these rooms, 13th July 1976, lot 27, then Christie’s London, 3rd March 1986, lot 204 (fig. 3).
1. Daniëlle Kisluk-Grosheide, The Wrightsman Galleries for French Decorative Arts, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2010, p. 62.