Etiquette and the art of hosting à la française
“Les petits plats dans les grands – Le Design au service de la table”.
Galerie Aveline and Maison Odiot invited Bienvenue en France.
This exhibition at Galerie Aveline is a collaboration with the “À Table ! Le repas, tout un Art” exhibition at the Sèvres National Ceramics Museum to mark the 280th anniversary of the porcelain Manufactory at Sèvres, which produces ceramic works of art, as well as the 10th anniversary of the recognition of French gastronomic cuisine as part of the “intangible cultural heritage of humanity” by UNESCO.
Sèvres has therefore set up at Galerie Aveline, as the museum usually open there is closed due to the ongoing pandemic. Camille Leprince, an expert antique dealer specialising in early European ceramics, is presenting a selection of pottery from the 15th to 19th centuries alongside works from contemporary designers at Sèvres.
In a space spanning 700 m2 over two floors, we discovered not only a collection from the Sèvres Manufactory that includes the famous Marly and cobalt blue sets, but also Saint-Cloud soft paste porcelain inspired by Chinese porcelain, early blue-and-white ceramics, contemporary creations, and more.
We also admired a magnificent banquet table in the main gallery space featuring the so-called “Italian” service belonging to Camillo Borghese, VI Prince of Sulmona, the “bird” service from the Elysée Palace, and vases belonging to the Medicis, grand dukes of Tuscany.
Charlotte Vignon, Director of the National Ceramics Museum at Sèvres, and Thierry Brassart, Head of Silverware at the Elysée Palace, presented an exhibition, “L’étiquette et l’art de recevoir à la française” (etiquette and the art of hosting à la française). The Sèvres Manufactory has been working for the Elysée since 1848; in 1872 it delivered the “bird” service, which includes plates based on designs created by French ceramicist and sculptor Jean-Claude Chambellan Duplessis in the 18th century. Richly embellished, the service can only be used for dessert in order to avoid contact with silver knives and forks that could damage the delicate decoration. We also learnt that the entirety of the cutlery is never set out all at once at an official banquet – rather, waiters add them to the table gradually as the courses are served.
Sèvres continues to produce heritage pieces while also inviting artists and designers to create limited edition series for collectors, cultural institutions and French national palaces.
The exhibition is open until 6 June at Galerie Aveline: 94, rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, Place Beauvau, Paris.
By Mariko Poimboeuf