This dessert service was presented by Emperor Napoleon I to Jean Jacques Régis de Combacérès upon the occasion of the wedding of Stephanie
de Beauharnais. The niece by marriage and adopted daughter of the Emperor, Stephanie was married on 7 April 1806 to Charles Frederick, Grand
Duke of Baden. Napoleon presented gifts of Sèvres porcelain to those attending the wedding including Combacérès, his Archchancellor. This
wedding was politically of great importance to Napoleon, who used members of his family to solidify his position through marriage into ruling families
across Europe. The Grand Duke joined the Confederation of the Rhine in 1806. With the help of Napoleon, by 1810 he had united the surrounding
separately ruled Margraviates and ecclesiatical states into the unified Grand Duchy of Baden as it stood until 1918.
The ledger line-item noting the service entering the Sèvres magazin de vente on 29 July 1807 describes it as decorated on a purple ground with
landscapes, fables and imperial palaces. The delivery records itemize it as comprising 72 plates, 8 dolphin-footed compotes, 8 footed dishes, 4
footed bowls, two eagle-headed sugar-bowls, 2 baskets with snake handles, and 24 plates to be mounted (assiettes à montées). The listing clearly
differentiates between the plates painted with insects and those with views, calling the former assiettes à montées and the latter simply assiettes. It is
likely that these 24 plates were meant to be mounted as 8 3-tiered stands but that, for whatever reason, never happened.
The Service de l'Archichancelier is well-documented in the Sèvres archive. Although few painters' marks appear on the plates, careful study of the
payment records for the service has made it possible to attribute most of the painted views to the hands of Caron, Lebel, Robert and Swebach.
Documentation also exists for those who applied the ground color, burnished the gilt decoration and inscribed the names of the scenes on the backs
of the plates. Brief biographies of the major contributors can be found online at www.christies.com.
The topographical scenes are based on engravings found in Voyages pittoresque de Naples et de Sicile by L'Abbé de Saint Non and Vues d'Italie
by Charles Bourgeois, copies of which are to be found at Sèvres.