Vincennes porcelain jug
The Vincennes porcelain hot water jug with turquoise blue ground colour that is being offered at Bonhams with a £40,000-60,000 estimate.

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Factory records show the jug and its matching basin were bought by the marchand-mercier, or dealer, Lazare Duvaux in December 1754 and then sold by him to Mme Dufour, the first lady in waiting to the Dauphine.

The 6.5in (16.5cm) high jug, which has gold mounts and a cover to keep the water hot, would have stood on the Dauphine’s dressing table and been used during the toilette – the morning ritual among late 17th and 18th century French aristocracy when they would invite visitors to attend their protracted and leisurely preparations for the day.

The provision of refreshments was an essential part of the toilette which could often last for several hours, and jugs of warm water were provided to enable guests to wash their hands.

Ground Colour

This piece is one of the earliest examples of a Vincennes water jug to feature the costly bleu celeste (turquoise blue) ground colour. It is a highlight of Bonhams’ European ceramics sale in London on December 14 where it is guided at £40,000-60,000.

As Nette Megens’ Bonhams head of European Ceramics explains: “Unlike many royal wives, Maria Josepha had little involvement in politics. She was, however, keenly interested in furniture and fittings and especially in porcelain as this beautiful jug shows. She also commissioned from the factory at Vincennes a magnificent display of naturalistic porcelain flowers in a white glazed vase as a gift for her father, the Elector of Saxony.

“This master work, known as the Bouquet de la Dauphine, was intended to demonstrate the superiority of Vincennes over Meissen (the porcelain factory established by her grandfather, Augustus the Strong).”