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Beautiful Thing: A Passion for Porcelain
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Today we’re more likely to gasp at the price tag than the opulence of 18th-century French porcelain. As author and ceramic artist Edmund de Waal points out, it’s a bit “bling” for modern tastes. But to Louis XV’s courtiers porcelain was by turns art, status symbol and mod-con — and in the hands of BBC4 it proves a fascinating window into the life of the Versailles court.
The former director of the Wallace Collection, Ros Savill, reveals the whys and wherefores of ship-shaped potpourri bowls, elephant vases and — my own favourite — a perfume burner-cum-egg steamer. (The king’s mistress, Madame de Pompadour, liked to keep hens on the roof of the palace, apparently.)
Ros Savill tells the story of the opulent, intricate, gold-crested and often much-maligned Sevres porcelain of the 18th century. She examines a personal choice of masterpieces from the Wallace Collection, revelling in the beauty and brilliance of the designs, which are now often viewed as unfashionably pretty or ostentatious.
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