These coolers were designed to hold half-bottles of wine set in ice or cold water and probably once formed part of a large dinner service. With their fanciful chinoiserie scenes of gold and platinum pagodas on a black ground, the wine coolers imitate Chinese lacquer work. In the 1790s, elaborate vessels such as these were mainly purchased by wealthy clients outside of France, since the French Revolution severely reduced the number of patrons able to afford such luxurious objects.
Scholars consider the rich decoration in gold and platinum on these wine coolers to be both rare and interesting. Only in the 1780s did porcelain makers at the Sèvres manufactory succeed in producing this deep blue-black ground by mixing oxides of iron, cobalt, and manganese. In the 1770s and 1780s, the potters had experimented with silver decoration but found that it tarnished with time. Platinum thus became a more popular alternative in the 1790s, and craftsmen used it mainly to decorate objects with black or brown grounds. Artists also applied two colors of gold to these coolers--a yellowish and a more orangish shade--and further varied them by burnishing some areas and leaving others matte.