“Old Paris” Porcelain Tea/Coffee Service, about 1825–29
French, retailed by Marc Schoelcher (active 1825–29), Paris
Porcelain, painted and gilded
Signed (with red stencil, in script, on the bottom of each of the hollow pieces): Schoelcher
The service consisting of:
• Coffee pot: 9 3/4 in. high
• Tea pot: 8 1/4 in. high
• Covered sugar bowl :6 3/4 in. high
• Creamer: 7 5/8 in. high
• Waste bowl: 4 3/16 in. high, 8 15/16 in. diameter
• Eight cups and saucers
Although the Tucker factories were nearly alone in producing sophisticated porcelain in the United States in the early nineteenth century, it is well documented that various Parisian firms were exporting quantities of fine porcelain to the United States at this time. As early as 1790, President George Washington ordered an extensive white and gold Sèvres dinner service, and in the same year Gouverneur Morris, who served as the United States consul to Paris, purchased a Neo-Classical group in biscuit porcelain for Washington. Subsequently, dinner and dessert services were commissioned from Dagoty, Honoré, Guerhard & Dihl, and others for The White House, as well as by numerous private American patrons. Indeed, the United States became one of the largest importers of porcelain from France.
Although it is not specifically known that this tea/coffee service, which consists of a coffee pot, tea pot, covered sugar bowl, creamer, waste bowl, and eight cups and saucers, came to the United States at the time of its manufacture, its retailer, the firm of M. Marc Schoelcher, of 2, boulevard des Italiens, Paris, had sent Victor Schoelcher to Mexico, Havana, and the United States in 1829 to sell porcelain. The principal pieces are marked Schoelcher, probably by this time a retailer rather than manufacturer, and thus presumably date before the name of the firm was changed to Schoelcher et Fils in that same year.
The decoration of the service represents an ultimate statement of the so-called Troubador Style, which was the name given to the Gothic Revival in France, although the forms of the various pieces of porcelain remain true to their ultimate origins in the Neo-Classicism of the First Empire. Within an elaborate armature of Gothic fretwork, each piece is decorated with medieval knights in armor, occasionally alternating with Neo-Classical urns.