Pair of Sèvres blue and white biscuit navette-shaped plaques of Diana and another, possibly Aurora, c. 1790-1800, in Spanish silver mounts

14.1 x 7.6 cm including silver mounts


The porcelain unmarked, the mounts with a hallmark of a five-pointed star, for Madrid after 1934.


The plaster model for Diana (called Diane no.2) is in the Sèvres factory archives. A pair of bas-reliefs of L’Aurore et Diane were included in the gift of a dinner service, vases, teawares and sculpture to Graf von Haugwitz, Prussian minister of state, on 25 Germinal an 5 (14 April 1797). They may have been of this model although the attributes of the figure holding the vase are unusual for dawn.


We have not seen other examples of either.


The Sèvres factory started to imitate Wedgwood low-relief plaques in the late 1770s, after Wedgwood entered into an agreement with the Paris marchand-mercier Dominique Daguerre for the latter to retail his wares. But Daguerre seems simply to have asked Sèvres to produce their own versions, in some cases copying Wedgwood’s models.


Our plaques are similar to some inset into Sèvres Wedgwood-style tabletops with a central scene taken from the story of Télémaque, produced from 1788. Each of the three known examples of the table has an outer frieze band inspired by Vatican Loggia engravings which includes four pointed oval medallions of this scale. The factory archives preserve some of the original models for these, in red wax on plaster blocks.


We have seen other plaques with figures on this scale, some of them in contemporary frames in black-painted and gilt wood.


Louis XVI’s cousin King Charles IV of Spain seems to have much appreciated this technique. A room at his Casita del Principe at the Escorial is entirely covered with Wedgwood plaques, and a showcase at the Prado of Buen Retiro versions (they were copied there as well), also has a couple of Sèvres ones. It is possible that the Madrid silver mounts, though late, indicate that these plaques were in Spain in the late eighteenth century.