AN IMPORTANT FRENCH EMPIRE SILVER-GILT COFFEE POT
AN IMPORTANT FRENCH EMPIRE SILVER-GILT COFFEE POT

MARK OF MARTIN-GUILLAUME BIENNAIS, PARIS, CIRCA 1810

Details
AN IMPORTANT FRENCH EMPIRE SILVER-GILT COFFEE POT
Mark of Martin-Guillaume Biennais, Paris, circa 1810
Vase form, on three lion's paw feet with classical mask joins, the body with bands of stylized foliage and applied with bees within laurel wreaths, hippocamps, figures of Fame and centering an Imperial eagle within drapery mantling beneath an Imperial crown, with wood scroll handle and grotesque mask spout, the hinged domed cover with bud finial, marked on body and cover
13¾in. (35cm.) high; 55oz. 10dwt. (1736gr.) gross weight
Provenance
Christie's, Geneva, November 9, 1976, lot 279
Christie's, Geneva, May 16, 1984, lot 103
Literature
The Glory of the Goldsmith: Magnificent Gold and Silver From the Al-Tajir Collection, 1989, no. 19, p. 33
Exhibited
"The Glory of the Goldsmith: Magnificent Gold and Silver from the Al-Tajir Collection," Christie's, London, 1989, no. 19
Further details
[SUPP PORTAIT - EX LOT 5950/770]
Napoleon I in coronation robes, by Baron Gérard after François Pascal
[SUPP PHOTO - BARCODE 20848248]
Coffee pot with Imperial emblems, by Biennais, now in the collection of the Louvre. Illustrated in l'Orfèvrerie Civile Française, v. II, plate LXIX B.

Lot Essay



Biennais supplied much of the grandest Empire silver to members of the Bonaparte family, in his role as court goldsmith from 1796-1819. This coffee pot, bearing Imperial arms, would have been supplied to Napoleon or a member of his family.

Biennais supplied not only dinner services, but opulent nécessaire de voyage, which typically included utensils for taking coffee, chocolate and tea. Numerous variations of this ovoid coffeepot on tripod stand are known, but this coffee pot relates very closely to a tea and coffee service commissioned by Napoleon on his marriage to Marie-Louise of Austria. The service is now divided between the Louvre and the Royal Scottish Museum in Edinburgh. The Louvre coffee pot is of similar ovoid shape, and features an identical spout. Another coffee pot, bearing the Borghese arms, forms part of an immense service for Napoleon's sister Pauline and is now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Both coffee pots are illustrated in Faith Dennis, Three Centuries of French Domestic Silver, 1960, no. 59C and no. 64.

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