The present tureen cover and stand were produced at a pivotally important period in the history of the Vincennes-Sèvres porcelain company, namely when its style was just coalescing into something that was French, and breaking away from the influence of Meissen style. The production of items as large as tureens and their stands with their highly sculptural shapes at this early stage in the company’s history was a technical tour-de-force, given the less than stable nature of the soft paste body produced at Vincennes and its proclivity to deform, or sag, in the kiln firing. Nonetheless, within a few years of developing these larger, more challenging shapes, by 1753 and 1755, the company was beginning to deliver (to the king) complete services of several hundred pieces or more. Complete porcelain services from Sèvres were important diplomatic gifts to presented foreign dignitaries. These works acted as emissaries of French taste and sophistication. From about the late 1750s onward Sèvres became the most influential and important trend-setting porcelain manufactory in Europe. Tureens were significant as a ceramic type that came into use in the middle decades of the eighteenth century during which major changes in the ingredients, preparation and serving of food were taking place. With greater emphasis placed on enhancing the inherent, natural, taste of food, the manner in which food was presented at the dining table and the vessels in which it was served became more important.
During the eighteenth century a distinction was drawn between the different forms of tureens that related to the type of contents served from them. Round tureens, like the present example, were used to serve stews made with meat, game or fish and are called a pot à oille in French, after the Spanish word olla, a cooking pot for a meat or game broth. The lemon-shaped knop on the cover alludes to the use of squeezed lemons in the making of stew.
The convex-concave shape of the body, standing on four out-scrolled feet, recalls well-known examples made earlier by goldsmiths Thomas Germain and Jacques Roettiers. The form also relates to the more restrained designs of Juste-Aurèle Meissonnier, the goldsmith-designer to the King, with whom Jean-Claude Duplessis most probably worked when he arrived in France about 1740.