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Work Wine-Harvest Cup
Department of Decorative Arts: 19th century
© 2011 Musée du Louvre / Martine Beck-Coppola
The Wine-Harvest Cup owes its name to its mount, which evokes the theme of wine and intoxication. Inspired by the work of sixteenth-century German goldsmiths, this piece by François-Désiré Froment-Meurice (1802-55) reflects the admiration for Renaissance art that characterized the period of the July Monarchy. Froment-Meurice showed a similar cup at the Industrial Exhibition of 1844, where it was highly praised.
An iconography of intoxication
The oval cup in yellow agate is supported by a mount of silver gilt in the form of a vinestock which appears rooted in a trilobate base decorated in opaque champlevé enamel. On the base sit figures personifying different forms of intoxication: the poet Anacreon (the intoxication of poetry); Lot with one of his daughters (the intoxication of love); and Noah (the intoxication of wine). From among them rises the vine, with shoots and leaves and bunches of grapes formed of pearls, which grows upward so as also to form the handle. Five putti clamber on the woody stem, on which Reason lies enfeebled in her cups. Immediately beneath her, a dramatic scene unfolds, as a nest of four young birds is attacked by a lizard - a favourite subject in the Romantic period.
The influence of Renaissance techniques
To make the cup, Froment-Meurice called on Adolphe-Victor Geoffroy-Dechaume, a sculptor with whom he worked who found his inspiration in the work of sixteenth-century German goldsmiths. The influence of the Renaissance is to be seen not only in the form and in the choice of a gold mount to go with a hardstone vessel, but also in the techniques employed. The chasing of the silver gilt was entrusted to Antoine Vechte and Louis Augustin Mulleret, whose work here excels in delicacy and precision. The use of enamel - translucent on the vine leaves and opaque champlevé on the base - also recalls the sixteenth century, reintroducing a polychromy that had been lost in the work of eighteenth-century goldsmiths. The cup also testifies to a renewed interest in mounted hardstone, a type of work which had all but ceased being produced after the end of the seventeenth century.
The popularity of mounted hardstone
Gold-mounted cups of this kind met with great success, and Froment-Meurice produced a number modeled on the present example, as well as others done to different designs. Other goldsmiths, such as Valentin Morel (1794-1860), also made cups of this kind. The Wine-Harvest Cup is probably not the one shown at the 1844 exhibition. Two others are known, very like the example in the Louvre and differing only in small details: one at the château de Compiègne, a gift from King Jérôme to his daughter Princess Mathilde in 1855, and one in a private collection. All three bear the mark of Jules Wiese (1818-68), who was first employed as a goldsmith by Froment-Meurice before setting up on his own account and continuing to do work for his old master.
BibliographyTrésors d'argent. Les Froment-Meurice, orfèvres romantiques parisiens, Paris, Editions "Paris-Musées", 2003.
Un Age d'or des arts décoratifs, Paris, Editions de la Réunion des musées nationaux, 1991, pp. 452 - 454.
François-Désiré FROMENT-MEURICE (1802-55)Jules WIESE (1818-90), goldsmithAntoine VECHTE (1799-1868) and Louis-Augustin MILLERET (1803-74), chasersAfter Adolphe-Victor GEOFFROY-DECHAUME (1816-92)
Agate, partly gilded and enameled silver, pearls
H. 35 cm; W. 27 cm; D. 15 cm
Purchased in 1984
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