Porcelain, c. 1805–6
Dolley Madison’s reign as head of Washington society began during her husband’s tenure as secretary of state (1801–9), both in their home and in the President’s House for the widowed Thomas Jefferson. James Madison specially ordered this china service from Paris in 1806. It was brought from Montpelier after the President’s House burned and was used for the remainder of Madison’s presidential term.
Desserts were always the centerpiece of Dolley’s dinners, and she was known for serving ice cream, her favorite flavor being oyster.