The imperial palace of Yildiz Kiosque was once the home of this highly important French tea service, which was gifted by the French King Louis-Philippe to Mahmud II, Sultan of the Ottoman Empire. The silver gilt and porcelain service for 24 displays a superior craftsmanship worthy of its impressive provenance. It passed by descent to the great sultans of the Ottoman Empire until 1920, when it was sold to a French collector. The sale occurred just two years before the last of the Ottoman sultanate, Mehmed VI, had been deposed by November 1922, after which the Yildiz Kiosque was converted into a casino. Before it was sold, it is believed that the tea set was a favorite of Sultan Abdul Hamid II, who reigned from 1876 until 1909.
The silver was crafted by the master silversmith Charles-Denis-Noël Martine, who worked in Paris from 1826 until 1837. Interestingly, they do not bear the trademarks typically seen on silver objects from this period, and the porcelain bears no marks whatsoever. Only kings could order objects without having their trademark affixed to them, since these orders were not intended for sale. The fact that these pieces are not fully marked would therefore prove their royal origin.
The tea service is part of a long tradition of gifts between the leaders of France and its allies, including the Ottoman Empire. Perhaps the most famous of these gifts is that Rhodes Door, a 16th-century cedar door gifted by Mahmud II to Louis-Philippe in 1836. The Gothic-style was installed in the Crusades Rooms of Versailles, which celebrates the history of the French in Jerusalem.
An exceptional expression of French artistry and craftsmanship, this service features an intriguing mix of Eastern and Western motifs that are of the caliber found in either a king or sultan’s palace. The porcelain is beautifully worked, featuring floral bouquets against green, blue and rose grounds. The colors held particular significance for the Sultan. The Janissaries, who formed the Ottoman Sultan's household troops, bodyguards and the first modern standing army in Europe, wore the colors blue, red and green, while the imperial standard often displayed the sultan's tughra on a rose-hued background.
Comprising 78 pieces, the sumptuous set includes a silver-gilt teapot, creamer and a sugar bowl alongside its 24 porcelain teacups and saucers and 24 silver-gilt spoons. A diamond-cut glass tea caddy is also included, as well as two impeccable lacquered trays, one depicting an Orientalist landscape, and the other with a floral motif. The service is complete with its original, custom black leather fitted travel case lined in red silk.
Case: 34" wide x 27" deep x 9" high
Teapot: 7" high
Trays: 32" wide x 25 1/2" high