Jean-Valentin Morel (1794-1860) trained with his Parisian lapidary father and with Adrien Vachette, the noted gold box maker. He began his working career circa 1827 and later joined in partnership with Charles-Edmond Duponchel. Following the acrimonious dissolution of their partnership in 1848, Morel moved to London and set up a workshop. Despite success at the 1851 Great Exhibition, Morel's London venture was unprofitable and he returned to France in 1852. This centerpiece, dating to 1849, would have been one of Morel's early works during his short tenure in England. Upon his return to France, Morel participated to great acclaim at the 1855 Exhibition, yet died in financial straits in 1860 (The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, 55 no. 2, Fall 1997; John Culme, The Directory of Gold and Silversmiths, 1987).