The Monticello Cornflower
While he served in Paris as Minister Plenipotentiary, Jefferson acquired at least two pieces from a dessert service—a sucrier, or sugar bowl, and a seau crénelé, or monteith, used for cooling wine glasses. Both of these pieces were in the cornflower garland pattern made at the royal porcelain factory at Sevres. The cornflower, or barbeaux, appears to have been adopted as a decorative motif in 1783, when the Manufacture de Sevres delivered a table service for Queen Marie Antoinette with her favorite flower.
This pattern was then made almost exclusively for Louis XVI, who used it in one of the dining rooms at Versailles. It is not known how Jefferson came to acquire parts of this royal service; he might have purchased slightly damaged pieces from a merchant in Paris of may have been given them at Versailles.
The wine glass cooler typically was part of a dessert service that might include plates, compotes, sugar bowls, ice cream dishes and trays to hold them, serving containers for ice cream, and two wine glass coolers. Jefferson’s surviving seau crénelé and sucrier are in Monticello’s collection.