Knife and Fork, duc de Villeroy, Mennecy, soft paste porcelain, c.1740

 

Dating from the early duc de Villeroy period of Mennecy, the cannon-shaped hafts are decorated with chinoiserie scenes in a distinctive palette of yellow, blue, red, and turquoise. The fork is painted with a man holding a parasol, surrounded by vignettes depicting exotic flowers and garden pavillions. The knife haft is similarly decorated with four pavilions and exotic flowers. The ends of the hafts are painted with red scroll and starburst motifs.

The original fittings, probably made of steel, were replaced in English sterling silver and are fully marked for Charles Harris Stuart, London, 1872.

Provenance: Exhibited in Of Pagods and Monsters, Juno Antiques, June 2013 (no. 52); an English Private Collection.

Condition: No damage or restoration. There is surprisingly little wear to the enamel decoration, and the sterling silver fittings are in excellent order. The fork retains the original eighteenth-century ferrule. It is a little careworn now, but it does have a Paris charge mark, and Charles Harris Stuart must have wanted to keep this one, as he replaced the ferrule on the knife. The original silver caps are lacking from the ends of the hafts. English cutlers did not use this method for securing ceramic knives and forks with steel or silver fittings, so they must never have been replaced.

Dimensions: Length of knife 24.3 cm (including blade); Length of fork 22.1 cm (including tines)

French Porcelain: A Catalogue of the British Museum Collection, Aileen Dawson (British Museum Press, 2000).

French Porcelain of the Eighteenth Century, Christopher Maxwell (V&A Publishing, 2009).

Cutlery: From Gothic to Art Deco - The J. Hollander Collection, Jan van Trigt (Petraco-Pandora NV, 1999).

 

   

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