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Bernardaud: A Heritage of Fine Taste

The Met Store and the storied French porcelain maker join forces to celebrate the heritage of Versailles

Bernardaud has been creating superb porcelain since 1863. Synonymous with luxury and French artisanship, the family-owned company produces its refined dinnerware, tea and coffee services, candles, home decor, and other refined pieces in Limoges, France—a center of porcelain production for centuries.

Left: “Au jardin chinois” litron cup & saucer, $380. Right: “Aux rois” service plate, $640

 

While continuously innovating in its manufacturing processes and product lines, Bernardaud takes inspiration from the rich tradition of French decorative arts—which reached new heights of expression at the royal court of the 18th century. To coincide with Visitors to Versailles: 1682–1789, The Met Store has joined forces with this esteemed French company to produce a series of beautiful pieces available only at The Met Store.

Left: Vincennes Floral Candle, $168. Right: Cup with cover and saucer (gobelet à lait et soucoupe). Vincennes Manufactory. Soft-paste porcelain, 1756. Gift of R. Thornton Wilson, in memory of Florence Ellsworth Wilson, 1950 (50.211.174a, b, .175)

 

Our Vincennes Floral Candle (above left) evokes the swirling, asymmetrical, and striking turquoise color pattern on a covered cup in The Met collection (above right), which was introduced at Vincennes, France, in 1752. The factory founded at Vincennes in about 1740 dominated European ceramics for the second half of the 18th century, developing a superior soft-paste porcelain body that was whiter and purer than any of its French rivals. The factory also hired talented French artists to provide shapes, drawings, and prints for the factory’s craftsmen, making its output a reflection of the most refined aesthetic ideas of the 18th century.

French Floral Cup and Saucer, $190–$290

 

The richly detailed pattern of our French Floral Cup and Saucer (above) was inspired by an exquisite example of porcelain (below, 1780) in The Met collection. The originals were made at the Sèvres Manufactory (1740–today) outside Paris, Europe’s most renowned porcelain manufacturer during the last half of the 18th century. The pieces bear the mark of Nicquet, a flower painter and gilder employed at Sèvres from about 1764–92.

Cup and saucer (gobelet litron et soucoupe). Sèvres Manufactory. Soft-paste porcelain, 1780. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of R. Thornton Wilson, in memory of Florence Ellsworth Wilson, 1950 (50.211.145, .146)

 

King Louis XV became the sole owner of the Sèvres Manufactory in 1759, naming it the Royal Porcelain Manufactory. This innovative and successful concern produced costly luxury porcelain for the elite, which the king and members of his circle, including Madame de Pompadour, collected with enthusiasm.

Today, Bernardaud faithfully reproduces historic porcelain patterns originally designed for royal and other aristocratic clients. And for the duration of Visitors to Versailles, the company has set up displays in both the exhibition shop and the Balcony Store of tables set with some of these sumptuous pieces, all for sale to the Bourbons of today.

Left: “Marie-Antoinette” gravy boat with cover, $735. Right: “Le gobelet du roi” cachepot square, $840

 

The “Marie Antoinette” pattern (left) features graceful strands of pearls and stems of lovely wild cornflowers, said to match the color of the queen’s eyes. Bernardaud has reproduced a complete service of Sèvres porcelain delivered to Versailles in 1782, and which she used to entertain guests at her Petit Trianon hideaway. The “Gobelet du roi” design (right) is derived from a Sèvres service that Louis XVI ordered in 1783, intended for the elite group of officers in charge of serving food and wine to the royal family. Nature-inspired motifs on the service include cornflowers, myrtle leaves, and a single rose blossom on each plate.

Shop these and more Bernadaud patterns at the Visitors to Versailles: 1682–1789 exhibition store, as well as the Balcony Store at The Met Fifth Avenue, through July 29.

 

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