Two Saint-Cloud Knives, circa 1735-45

Both hafts are painted with chinoiserie vignettes in blue, red, green, and yellow enamels. On one side a robed figure stands holding a fan or palm frond amongst foliage. Beyond him a clump of bamboo grows from a hollow rock. The reverse is painted with a small pavilion surrounded by trees. A flower grows in the foreground, and a winged insect hovers in the sky above. The two scenes are divided by a continuous border of red flower heads and scrolled leaves, reserved on a yellow ground edged with a red line.

The curious perspective echoes that of Chinese compositions, whilst the colours evoke the Japanese Kakiemon palette. The floral border resembles designs found on Indian chintzes exported to Europe from the Coromandel Coast. Fitted with a silver ferrule and cap, and a steel blade of French type.

This style of chinoiserie painting often adorns the lids of Saint-Cloud bonbonnières, and it is highly likely that the same artists would have been employed in the decoration of small boxes, cane handles, and cutlery hafts.

Provenance: An English Private Collection.

Condition: One knife has no damage or restoration. The other has had a 2.5 cm section from one side of the haft restuck near the cap at the base, with minimal overpainting. The enamel decoration, blades, and ferrules are in good order.

Dimensions: Length 24 cm (including blade)

Discovering the Secrets of Soft-Paste Porcelain at the Saint-Cloud Manufactory, c.1690-1766, Bertrand Rondot, Ed. (BGC / Yale, 1999).

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