These are exceptionally rare and highly important antique Sevres armorial porcelain cup and saucer from the Prince Baratyansky Service.
Blue celeste-ground coffee cup and saucer (gobelet “litron” et soucoupe) are painted with coat-of-arms of Prince Ivan Sergeevich Baratyansky, the Russian ambassador to the French Court (1773 – 1785).
The Sevres factory produced the service in 1793 and it was delivered to St. Petersburg in 1794.
At the height of the Reign of Terror, when the royal family was executed (21 January 1793) and aristocratic privileges had been abolished, it would have been unimaginable to create a service displaying aristocratic heraldic emblems.
Apparently, the Sevres factory desperately needed money and was willing to take such commissions from abroad. The Baratyansky service was one of only two armorial services commissioned from the factory during the French Revolution.
The service contained twenty four cups and saucers.
One set, currently at the Hillwood museum (Washington, DC), is published in A Taste for Splendor Russian Imperial and European Treasures from the Hillwood Museum, 1998, page 168.
The service is mentioned in Chavagnac and Grollier, Histoire des manufactures de porcelaine (Paris, 1906, p.222). The original order is recorded in the sale archive at Sevres as ‘Un service fond bleu celeste, armoiries (Mme. Cresp a Saint Petersburg, 18.384 L(ivres)’.
Prince Ivan Baratyansky (1740-1811), Adjutant General, Ambassador to Versailles, was a prominent politician and courtier. Louis XVI, in recognition of Baratyansky’s services, awarded the ambassador with his royal portrait set with diamonds. Baratyansky was considered a very handsome man. In Paris, many trade advertisements of the period featured his portrait with inscription “Au beau russe”.
It was also Prince Baratyansky who ordered the Cameo service from Sevres on behalf of the Empress Catherine II in 1776. The service became the most celebrated and expensive of all the services ever manufactured by Sevres.
Condition: no restoration, excellent.
The cup is 2 1/4 in. (5,8 cm) high. Diameter of the saucer is 4 3/4 in. (12,2 cm).
Description of the armorial: two eagles are holding a shield with the arms of Grand Principalities of Kiev (angel with a sword) and Chernigov (eagle with a cross). Ermine mantel with Russian princely crown is in the background. The Latin motto of the armorial IN DEO SPES MEA translates as “My Hope is in God”.
Marks: blue interlaced L’s enclosing date letter QQ for 1793, painter’s initial ‘C’ for Philip Castel (active at Sevres between 1771 and 1797).
Incised numbers 34 (cup) and 44 (saucer).