The Madison State Service
Tureen with Lid
In August 1806, American consul general in Paris Fulwar Skipwith purchased a 231-piece porcelain dinner and dessert service from the Nast Porcelain Manufactory for the Madisons. In a letter to Madison, Skipwith mentioned that the porcelain he acquired was “not much inferior to the china of the celebrated Manufactory at Seve, & is just 40% cheaper.” The bill of sale for the purchase survives, inventorying and describing the vessel forms, including two lidded soup tureens: “2 Soupieres ovales.”
Used by the Madisons at Montpelier, the service was likely brought back to Washington following the August 1814 destruction of the President’s House, where it was used for state entertaining at their temporary residences. The soft-paste porcelain service features a geometric overglaze design with gold rim.
Only thirty known pieces from the Madisons’ original 231-piece service survive. Examples can be found in museum and private collections. Montpelier archaeologists have uncovered sherds of three Nast pieces at Montpelier.
In addition to the tureen, other forms in the 231-piece service included the dessert cooler, shell shaped bowl, sauceboat on stand, and oval platter.