This surtout-de-table derives from a design by Pierre-Philippe Thomire (1751-1843) of circa 1820 with similar feasting figures celebrating the glory of Bacchus, an appropriate subject for such a sumptuous dining room centerpiece (illustrated in H. Ottomeyer and P. Pröschel, Vergoldete Bronzen, 1986, vol. I, p. 388, no. 5.16.15).
Another related surtout also by Thomire made for Napoleon's brother Prince Lucien is at the Musée Marmottan, Paris (illustrated in M. Deschamps, Empire, 1994, p. 169).
Pierre-Philippe Thomire, the most celebrated bronzier-ciseleur of the Empire period, was born into a family of ciseleurs. He worked initially for the renowned bronziers Pierre Gouthèire (1732-1813) and Jean-Louis Prieur (d. circa 1785-1790), ciseleur-doreur du roi, and quickly established a reputation for finely chased gilt-bronzes.
In 1804, he purchased the business of Martin-Eloy Lignereux, marchand de dorure et meubles, at 41, rue Taitbout, which enabled him to expand his atelier dramatically, employing as many as 800 workers. He adapted well to the new severely classical style of the Empire period influenced by the designers Charles Percier and Pierre Fontaine in their Recueil de Décorations Intérieurs (1812). The firm of Thomire, Duterme et Cie. produced a comprehensive range of high quality gilt-bronze objects, including surtouts-de-table, candelabra, vases, clocks and cheminés. Thomire was also honoured with the prestigious title of Ciseleur de l'Empéreur.