Chantilly Porcelain: Aristocratic Ambition

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An etching of the grounds of the château at Chantilly, published by Nicolas Langlois 
Metropolitan Museum of Art Collection

Louis Henri de Bourbon, The Prince de Condé, established the Chantilly porcelain factory on the grounds of his château at Chantilly in 1730.  Chantilly was considered a ‘splendid residence,’ and it served as a sort of haven for the Prince away from the Royal Court.  Only four years earlier, the Prince de Condé had been forced out of Louis XV’s court as chief minister.  In a contemporary account, the Prince was described as follows: ‘He was moderately good looking as a young man, but being over-tall afterwards began to stop and became ‘as thin and dry as a chip of wood.”

At the factory, the Prince de Condé hoped to recreate the true porcelain that was produced in Asia, both in China and Japan.  The Prince was an avid collector of Asian ceramics and encouraged the craftsmen to use these designs as inspiration.

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Chantilly bowl with figures after a print by Jean Antoine Fraisse 
Metropolitan Museum of Art Collection

Chantilly soft-pace porcelain is distinguished by its lustrous background with painted decoration in enamel colours.  The use of a tin glaze on the porcelain created an opaque, milky white surface.  Shown above is an ambitious example of Chantilly’s output.  The jar mimics a Japanese form and draws inspiration in its decoration from Japanese works.  A designer named Jean Antoine Fraisse worked for the Prince and published a design book entitled Book of Chinese Designs in 1735 for the purpose of copying on Chantilly pieces.

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Chantilly cup and saucer of lobed shape 
Metropolitan Museum of Art Collection

Although other European porcelain factories drew inspiration from Asian ceramics, the Chantilly factory was the only one to create exact copies of these Asian designs.  The above cup and saucer with its lobed shape and arrangement of stylised butterflies and comes from a Japanese interpretation of a Chinese piece.

The Prince died in 1740, but the factory carried on, albeit with smaller ambitions and fewer innovations.  The factory ended up shutting its doors in 1800 just after the French Revolution.

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Chantilly bowl decorated in the Kakiemon style 
Mackinnon Fine Furniture Collection

Today, examples of Chantilly porcelain can be found in major museums across Europe and America and are highly prized by collectors.  We are delighted to have a piece of Chantilly porcelain in our collection.  This rare piece is fluted in shape and features decoration in the Kakiemon style.

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Chantilly bowl decorated in the Kakiemon style 
Mackinnon Fine Furniture Collection

The bowl features the characteristic milky white ground and bright enamel colours that are associate with the Chantilly factory.

To learn more about Chantilly, have a look at the  Getty Museum’s collection.  The Metropolitan Museum of Art has also put together an article on French porcelain in the 18th century that highlights the Chantilly factories along with contemporary factories, including Mennecy, Rouen, and Vincennes (which later became Sèvres).

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