Pierre Philippe Thomire (1751-1843) was the most important Parisian manufacturer of gilt bronzes in the early 19th century. He trained as a sculptor under Houdon and was apprenticed to the ciseleur Pierre Gouthière. Thomire established his workshop in 1776 and in 1783 he worked at the Sèvres porcelain factory to provide ormolu mounts. He established a new bronze business under the name Thomire, Duterme et Cie in 1804, was made ciseleur de l’Empereur in 1809 and retired in 1823.
The present exceptional large centrepiece was intended to form part of a surtout de table, the elaborate dining service which was displayed on a long mirror-lined plateau at the center of the table. This form of surtout was developed in France and, in the wake of Napoleon’s conquests, it was exported all over Europe. There are many variations supplied by Thomire to the Imperial family and other European courts; examples are illustrated in H. Ottomeyer & P. Pröschel, Vergoldete Bronzen, Münich, 1989, II, p. 382-389.
Another surtout centerpiece, with identical bronze patiné figures, is signed Thomire and is illustrated in J. Nicklausse, Thomire, Paris, 1947, p.93, pl 29.