Porcelain inkstand of the Chantilly manufacture


France, Régence period
Polychrome porcelain from the Chantilly Manufacture, adorned with chased and gilt bronze


Sinuous in shape and polylobed on the sides, this inkstand presents a decor of braces delimited by framing threads and lattice work containing four-leaf on a blue background.
This piece rests on two azure “rocaille” legs as well as on a type of small octagonal bowl with “kakiemon” patterns, adorned with a character on a tiled floor around which evolves insects on a white background, the precedents resting on a very small leg.
The inkstand is decorated with chased gilt bronze such as the moulded frame, the circular covered buckets – one is open worked – the buttons and the main octagonal bucket, a shell-shaped apron flanked by windings and palms and, on the opposite side, a longer apron with a small cartouche, mantling and foliated volutes.

Chantilly porcelain

The legend tells that in the 13th century, Marco Polo was the first European to discover this fine and translucent ceramic, unknown in the West but attested in China since the 6th-7th century and most certainly arised under the Tang dynasty (8th-9th century).
In comparison to the mother-of-pearl of some shells, this resemblance would be at the origin of the term “porcela” which designates a pearly shell in Italian.
Quickly nicknamed “white gold”, porcelain fascinated all around Europe and rapidly became a technical and economic issue.
Since the 16th century, many attempts were made to reproduce this mysterious material, first of all in Italy, with the support of Italian royal families, then in France under the protection and patronage of the Greats of the kingdom, that increased as early as the end of the 17th century.
In this context, Louis-Henri de Bourbon, Prince of Condé (1692-1740), duke of Bourbon, magnificent blood-lined prince, sheltered in his castle of Chantilly, created a manufacture under his patronage in the city. In France, the failure to find out the recipe for kaolin, ingredient essential to the Chinese recipe of porcelain, French manufactures, as the Sevres manufacture, firstly formulated a replacement ingredient with the same visual characteristics composed of a vitreous mixture – “la fritte” – sprayed after firing and mixed with various clays.
This material, called soft porcelain because it was fired at low temperature, was the only one produced in France until the early 1770s.
In 1725, the Prince of Condé called on Cicaire Cirou, a defector from Saint-Cloud Manufacture, so that he brought his technical experience, moreover the Prince of Condé offered privileged access to his innumerable collections of Asian porcelain to the makers of the Manufacture. As evidenced by this inkstand, Asian porcelain strongly influenced them: patterns and colours are inspired by the “kakiemon” decorations, named after the Japanese enameller Sakaida Kakiemon who discovered the secret of glazed enamels around 1647.
These decorations, using a reduced colour palette, where mainly developed by the Manufacture until 1740, and served to highlight the creamy and ivory whiteness of the porcelain in association with Japanese patterns arranged without symmetry, without modelling or perspective: flowered branches, bamboos, insects (as in our example), partridges, cranes, dragons or even phoenixes.
Since the 1740s, the Manufacture was in competition with the Royal Manufacture of Vincennes-Sèvres that recruited their best craftsmen, the Chantilly Manufacture nevertheless continued to produce soft porcelain until 1802, the production of hard porcelain continuing until 1870. Although the Chantilly Manufacture generally affixed a mark representing a hunting horn to distinguish its production, many objects with “kakiemon” decoration were left unmarked because of the destination of these objects, ordered by « marchands-merciers », whom asked the porcelain-maker not to marked them.


Geneviève Le Duc, Marques et signatures de la porcelaine, Paris, Charles Massin, 1970.
Geneviève Le Duc, Porcelaine tendre de Chantilly au XVIIIe siècle : héritages des manufactures de Rouen, Saint-Cloud et Paris et influences sur les autres manufactures du XVIIIe siècle, Paris, Hazan, 1996.

Good overall condition, two slight lacks under the base

Additional information

Weight 0,755 kg
Dimensions 21 × 14 × 7,5 cm