Very little is known about the life of Jacob Petit (1796-1868). The only official document that has survived to this day is his death certificate. Married around 1816, from a Parisian Jewish family, he changed his surname from Mordecai to that of his wife, Adelaide Petit, the daughter of a baker from Chantilly.
It is believed that Jacob Petit took drawing lessons from the painter Antoine-Jean Gros, a student of Jacques-Louis David. Fascinated by porcelain, he entered the Sèvres porcelain manufactory. The Victoria and Albert Museum contains drawings from his collection of ornaments and decor of interior items of different styles, including vases, candelabra, candlesticks, clocks, furniture, mirrors, and jewelry. The collection, published in 1824, was a success. Many of the designs became inspiration for both other artists and his own future work.
Jacob Petit owned a porcelain factory in Fontainebleau. During the successful period, up to 80 people worked there (according to other sources – up to 150). He had a ceramics studio in Paris.
Since 1834, Jacob Petit has participated in numerous exhibitions, where he has received various awards in recognition of his innovative spirit, combining courage and creativity. Awarding him a bronze medal, the jury of 1839 confirmed: “The factory of M. Jacob Petit at Fontainebleau has quite a great popularity in the trade, based on the inexhaustible imagination of this manufacturer for the manufacture of a wide variety of products.”
The successful period was followed by failures. Poor inventory control and overexpansion proved to be a problem. With creditors demanding payment, Petit was forced to declare bankruptcy, although production continued at a reduced scale for the next decade. Vases decorated with flowers and figurines with porcelain lace in a technique developed by Jacob Petit were awarded a silver medal at the industrial goods fair in 1849. Despite the decline in production, Petit still exhibited his work at the 1851 exhibitions at the Crystal Palace in London and at the 1855 Universal Exhibition. In 1862, Petit retired, selling the business to his employee Jacquemin.