A PAIR OF FRENCH SILVER-GILT SAUCEBOATS AND STANDS FROM THE GRAND DUKE MIKHAIL PAVLOVICH SERVICE
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A PAIR OF FRENCH SILVER-GILT SAUCEBOATS AND STANDS FROM THE GRAND DUKE MIKHAIL PAVLOVICH SERVICE

THE SAUCEBOATS WITH MARK OF MARTIN-GUILLAUME BIENNAIS, PARIS, 1809-1819, THE STANDS WITH MARK OF JEAN-CHARLES CAHIER, PARIS, 1819-1838

Details
A PAIR OF FRENCH SILVER-GILT SAUCEBOATS AND STANDS FROM THE GRAND DUKE MIKHAIL PAVLOVICH SERVICE
THE SAUCEBOATS WITH MARK OF MARTIN-GUILLAUME BIENNAIS, PARIS, 1809-1819, THE STANDS WITH MARK OF JEAN-CHARLES CAHIER, PARIS, 1819-1838
The sauceboats oval and each on a spreading foot with egg-and-dart border, the body applied with hippocamp supporting a Cyrillic monogram beneath a coronet within a ribbon-tied floral wreath, the scroll handles with naked winged female bust and acanthus terminals, applied beneath the lip with a grotesque mask within a ribbon-tied floral wreath, the elongated octagonal stands on six double lion's paw feet, with a dolphin and foliage border, applied with a Cyrillic monogram below a coronet set between cornucopiae and with palmette and Cupid motifs, each sauceboat marked near handle, on edge of foot and inside handle, each stand marked underneath and on edge, the bases of the stands further stamped 'C.CAHIER' and one scratched 'VI' and the other scratched 'VIII'
11 in. (28 cm.) high, 9¾ in. (24.6 cm.) wide
115 oz. (3,575 gr.)
The monogram and coronet are those of Grand Duke Mikhail Pavlovich (1798-1849). (2)
Provenance
Supplied to Grand Duke Mikhail Pavlovich (1798-1849) son of Tsar Paul I (r.1798-1801) and brother of Tsar Alexander I (r.1801-1825) and Tsar Nicholas I (r.1825-1855)
Probably Alexander Lyudvigovich, 2nd Baron Stieglitz (d.1884), St. Petersburg
Confiscated either from the Stieglitz family or the Stieglitz Museum by the Soviet Government, circa 1917
Special notice

VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price and at 15% on the buyer's premium

Lot Essay

Grand Duke Mikhail Pavlovich was the fourth son of Tsar Paul I and his wife Marie Feodorovna, Princess of Würtemberg. He received a military education and travelled extensively throughout Russia; he was appointed Commander of the Guards' Infantry Brigade, and took part in the war against Turkey to liberate Greece. He was awarded the Order of St. George and in 1831 became Chief of all Military Schools in Russia. He married his cousin Princess Helen of Würtemberg by whom he had six daughters. He died in 1849 at the age of 51.

It is difficult to imagine a more perfect setting for the vast silver-gilt dinner service ordered from Martin-Guillame Biennais and
Jean-Charles Cahier by Grand Duke Mikhail Pavlovich than the latter's magnificent Russian neoclassical palace, designed by Carlo Rossi and now the home of the State Russian Museum in St. Petersburg. Paid for in part by his father, Tsar Paul I (r.1798-1801) and then by his brothers, Tsar Alexander I (r.1801-1825) and Tsar Nicholas I (r.1825-1855), the palace cost some 9 million roubles to complete. It was built between 1819 and 1823 with every detail of the interior design being overseen by its great architect. Indeed the interiors were considered to be the finest in Russia until the reconstruction of the Hermitage in 1837 following a disastrous fire.

Both Mikhail and his elder brother Nicholas patronised the leading Parisian silversmiths of the day, among them Biennais and Cahier. Indeed, the two firms seem to have co-operated on Mikhail Pavlovitch's huge commission, as their marks are found on differing but component parts of some of the same large objects. It is thought that in 1821 Biennais, who had no likely successor, sold his business, including designs and archives, to Cahier. Although he was well placed with the restored Bourbon regime, Cahier's business eventually foundered and he went bankrupt in 1828.

It appears that, like so many artistic treasures in Russia, the service was confiscated, this time from the museum founded by Baron Stieglitz, following the Revolution and sold off by the Soviet Government in the 1920s or 1930s to raise much-needed foreign currency. It is interesting to note that the vastly wealthy Baron Stieglitz adopted a daughter who was said to be the illegitimate child of Grand Duke Michael Pavlovich. A substantial part of the service next appeared as a single lot at auction at Christie's in London in 1965. Since then a number of pieces including a tea and coffee service and table silver have been sold off, while other pieces, such as the smaller tureens, have been re-united with it. Examples from the service can be found in the Hermitage, St. Petersburg and the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam. By far the most significant item, a magnificent soup-tureen and cover, weighing some 14 kilos, by Cahier and clearly derived from designs of Percier and Fontaine, remains as the centrepiece of the service. It, along with a large number of pieces from the service, was sold Christie's London, 30 November 2004, lot 438.
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