Lots 78-80 are the work of J-V Morel (1794-1860), one the 19th century's most accomplished goldsmiths and lapidaries whose extraordinary hardstone and enamel works were shown to great acclaim at the 1844, 1851 and 1855 expositions. Morel's work, always of the finest quality, was also characterized by diversity of styles as reflected in the Renaissance, French and Islamic influences of these lots. Despite Morel's critical success in London and Paris and his impressive list of patrons, his career was plagued by dramatic business and financial woes. For further information, see Isabelle Lucas, "The Revival of the Lapidary's Art," Apollo, January 2005, pp. 48-54.
This previously unrecorded example of Morel's work relates closely to a rock crystal cup exhibited to great acclaim at the 1844 Paris Exhibition. Le Petit Courier des Dames described a rock crystal cup as follows: montée sur un pied du style siezième siècle, avec figurines d'argent et monstres marins à croupe d'émail vert, tandis que sur les deux anses ce sont deux paons tout ruisselants d'or, d'azur et d'éblouissants reflets, qui font miroiter leur queue en éventail de pierreries.
This cup, which dates between 1842 and 1848 (based on the business address engraved on the mounts), shares these same motifs, but lacks Morel's characteristic enamel work, except for the coat-of-arms. A related example with bird, scroll and foliage mounts was exhibited at the Great Exhibition of 1851 and is illustrated below.
The arms are those of Michel Louis Felix Ney (1804-1854) and Marie Josephine Southam (1801-1889), who married in 1834. He was the son of the celebrated Napoleonic marshal, duc d'Elchingen (1769-1815).
Mounted agate cup exhibited by J-V Morel at the Great Exhibition, London, 1851.