Soup tureen belonging to William Mercer of Aldie

This splendid soup tureen is exceptional in more than one way: it is not only a prestigious piece of china, it is also the only known model of this type and size. The work is typical of the second period of Tournai porcelain manufacture (1763-1774), with its polychrome bouquets of flowers set between coats of arms composed of golden scrolls and tendrils, cascades of flowered stems in finely-chased gold, its Louis XV inspiration, and china clay of irreproachable quality.

This commissioned work is historic in several respects. It is an exceptional piece of documentation because it carries an inscription relating to its date and place of manufacture (Made at Tournay february 1770 For William Mercer of Aldie Esqr). It is the only known example of Tournai porcelain with an inscription in a foreign language. The distinguishing feature of the tureen is that the ensemble was made as a commission for – and not by – a person whose coat of arms is represented at the side of the date and place of its manufacture.

The piece did not, therefore, go unnoticed when it appeared on the art market in 2006. There was a risk that it would be bought by a foreign buyer and thus disappear into a private collection, at least for a certain time. It was to avoid such a situation that the King Baudouin Foundation acquired the soup tureen and entrusted it permanently to the Musée Royal de Mariemont, which already had the most important collection of Tournai porcelain in the Walloon Region.

The soup tureen was probably commissioned to be offered to Colonel William Mercie of Aldie while he was in the service of the Netherlands and stationed in Tournai. During this period, his brigade had set up their headquarters in Maastricht and Tournai.

Publication « La porcelaine de Tournai de William Mercer of Aldie, 1770. »
Website Musée Royal de Mariemont

Further information about the Heritage Fund (in French)

Type: 
Soup tureen and dish
Material / technique: 
Porcelain
Dimensions: 
Soup tureen diameter: 37.5 cms / dish diameter: 39 cms
Type of acquisition: 
Heritage Fund Acquisition
Year of acquisition: 
2006
Depository institution: 
Musée Royal de Mariemont, Morlanwelz