All that glitters: private view

Enjoy a glittering exhibition of Sèvres porcelain with Homes & Property at the Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace, on 1 July
Mounted vases
© The Royal Collection: HM Queen Elizabeth II
Mounted vases (1779) once owned by Marie-Antoinette and now in the Royal Collection
In 1783, Louis XVI ordered the most ravishing dinner service from Sèvres. It would take 23 years to make. Unfortunately only half was finished by the time he was guillotined. The decoration is so fine that one item could easily take a year to paint.

In England between 1783-1830, the Prince Regent, later George IV, built up the best collection of Sèvres porcelain in the world, 300 pieces of which, from the Queen’s collection, are on show.

With its exquisite hand-painted decoration and lavish gilding, Sèvres is instantly recognisable.

What makes these exhibits amazing is the imagination of the craftspeople who decorated the porcelain with gilded nymphs, swans and other beasts as handles or spouts.

Detail from a pair of French vases from 1789, also in the Queen’s collection
© The Royal Collection: HM Queen Elizabeth II
Detail from a pair of French vases from 1789, also in the Queen’s collection
As well as being beautiful, it is still practical, with pieces from the Queen’s collection used at state visits today.

By 1759, the Sèvres factory had been acquired by Louis XVI, with his wife Marie-Antoinette also a collector. After the French Revolution, many pieces were snapped up by the Prince Regent.

The evening: Arrive at the Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace on Wednesday 1 July at 5.45pm; an illustrated talk by Joanna Gwilt, curator of the exhibition, will be followed by a private view of the exhibition and Treasures from the Royal Collection.

Enjoy a glass of wine in the shop and receive a 20 per cent discount on purchases. 8pm finish. Catalogue costs £14.95.

How to book: Tickets cost £20. Call 020 7766 7322 with your credit card details.

French Porcelain for English Palaces: Sèvres from the Royal Collection runs 23 May to 11 October 2009. For information, visit

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