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Sèvres Porcelain

Writing Desk, c. 1777–80, made by Martin Carlin

France’s national porcelain factory was founded in 1738 at Vincennes but moved in 1756 to Sevres after the French king Louis XV became its principal shareholder and client. The firm was titled the “Royal Porcelain Factory” and its products were marked—as they are still today—with the crossed Ls of the royal cypher. Brilliantly gilded, modeled, painted, and colored, Sèvres porcelains were luxury objects, designed for the court and as royal gifts. Many of the forms and decorative elements developed by the factory during the nineteenth century were the result of various combinations and reinterpretations of historical styles and techniques. Patronized by Napoleon, the now Imperial factory produced objects based on Egyptian, Greek, and Roman antiquities. In an effort to attract new clients and to be considered modern, the factory’s later designers and decorators worked in a variety of styles, including Art Nouveau and Art Deco.