An impresive silver trophy centrepiece, (Fromel Maurice)
Lot 62
An impressive and important French silver table centrepiece by the firm of Froment-Meurice, Paris, third quarter of 19th century
Sold for £34,850 (US$ 42,639) inc. premium

Lot Details
An impresive silver trophy centrepiece, (Fromel Maurice) An impresive silver trophy centrepiece, (Fromel Maurice) An impresive silver trophy centrepiece, (Fromel Maurice) An impresive silver trophy centrepiece, (Fromel Maurice) An impresive silver trophy centrepiece, (Fromel Maurice) An impresive silver trophy centrepiece, (Fromel Maurice)
An impressive and important French silver table centrepiece
by the firm of Froment-Meurice, Paris, third quarter of 19th century
The circular bowl with chased relief border of alternating acanthus leaves and anthemions, the underside with three rectangular relief plaques each depicting: the facade of the re-built Gare du Nord, A 12OT 'Bicycle' locomotive and train possibly on the Argenteuil bridge, the third with a similar train entering the tunnel of Batignolles, each within a scroll-edged frame and linked with fruiting garlands on a lappeted ground, supported by three scroll brackets on a central column with vase knop with relief lion masks and drapery, on a tripartite base supporting seated classical figures of Mercury (Commerce), Industry and Architecture, all on three acanthus scroll feet separated by relief trophies of Architecture, Steam Power and Industry, height 57cm, diameter 44cm, weight 598oz.


  • The firm of Froment-Meurice was established by François-Désiré Froment-Meurice (1802-1855), he was succeeded by his son Emile (1837-1913) who continued to increase the prestige of the firm, being commissioned to make the "Paris Tiara," a papal tiara given to Pope Leo XIII by the people of Paris in 1888 to commemorate his Golden Jubilee as a priest.

    At the 1867 Exposition Universelle, Froment-Meurice showed two garnitures that had been produced in collaboration with the sculptor Emile-François Carlier (1849-1927): the extraordinary ivory and blue enamel Garniture de Cheminée (exhibited Musée de la Vie Romantique 2003, Trésors d'argent, les Froment-Meurice, orfèvres romantiques parisiens, cat no 66) and the Surtout aux Fritillaires ordered by Emperor Napoleon III (now in the Musée Arts Decoratifs, inv. 14338 [A-à-C]). It is interesting to note similarities between the latter and the present lot that might suggest that Carlier was again involved in the design: the modelling of the classical figures seated on the centrepiece and the use of 'modernised' set of trophies below linked by swags.

    Froment-Meurice undertook a number of civic and commercial trophies and most are engraved with a dedication or prize. The present lot has no presentation inscription, however the three pictoral plaques give us clues as to the possible purpose of such an impressive piece of silver.

    Firstly, the facade of the Gare du Nord; the station was inaugurated in 1846 but less than 10 years later it was unable to cope with the rise in traffic and it had to be re-built. The facade was removed and can now be seen as the facade of Lille station. The new station was designed by the renowned architect Jacques Hittorf, famous for his design of the Place de la Concorde. It was re-built between 1861 and 1866 by Bridge & Roadway Engineers on behalf of the Chemins de Fer du Nord Company, this later facade is depicted.

    Secondly, the locomotive depicted exiting one of a pair of tunnels in the second plaque has been identified as a 12OT (ITT) or 'Bicycle,' more commonly used by the Compagnie de l'Ouest (which ran services from the Gare Saint Lazare) but they were also made for the Chemins de Fer du Nord (which ran services from Gare du Nord). The tunnels are most likely to be those at Batignolles, these were on the western line further help us to date the piece to before 1892 when a third tunnel was built.

    The third plaque depicts the 'Bicycle' pulling a train across the bridge at Argenteuil, famously painted by Claude Monet.

    Initially, it seemed there was nothing to link the three lines but with assistance from the Secretary of the Association pour la Sauvegarde de la Petite Ceinture de Paris et de son Réseau Ferré (ASPCRF), Bruno Bretelle and his associate, Luc Fournier, we have been able to identify a liasion 'ferroviale' that links the images.

    In the early 1860s a rail company was set up to link the towns of Argenteuil and Ermont, the line would serve both Gare Saint Lazare and Gare du Nord and solves the mystery of the three plaques. It is possible that it was made as a presentation piece to commemorate the inauguration of the line. This idea is supported by the the fact that Princess Mathilde, cousin of Napoleon III, opened the line on 13 August 1863. After the fall of the Empire, she continued to use the line from Sannois to reach her home in Paris near Gare St Lazare until her death in 1904.
Auction information

This auction is now finished. If you are interested in consigning in future auctions, please contact the specialist department. If you have queries about lots purchased in this auction, please contact customer services.

Buyers' Obligations


If you have any complaints or questions about the Conditions of Sale, please contact your nearest customer services team.

Buyers' Premium and Charges

For all Sales categories excluding Wine, Coins & Medals and Motor Cars and Motorcycles:
A successful bidder at this sale will be required to pay Bonhams 1793 Limited ("Bonhams") a premium calculated as follows:

25% on the first £50,000 of the Hammer Price
20% from £50,001 to £1,000,000 the Hammer Price
12% from £1,000,001 of the Hammer Price

VAT at 20% will be payable on the amount of the premium.

The premium is payable for the services to be provided by Bonhams in the Buyer's Agreement which is contained in the catalog for this Sale and for the opportunity to bid for the Lot at the Sale.

Payment Notices

Payment in advance: by cash, check with banker's card, credit card, bank draft or traveler's cheque.

Payment at collection: by credit or debit card.

Credit card charges: a surcharge of 2% is applicable when using Mastercard, Visa and overseas debit cards.

Shipping Notices

For information and estimates on domestic and international shipping as well as export licenses please contact Bonhams Shipping Department.

  1. Customer Services (UK)
    Customer services
    Work +44 20 7447 7447
    FaxFax: +44 20 7447 7401
  2. Silver (UK)
    General enquiries
    Work +44 20 7393 3858
    FaxFax: +44 20 7468 8207
  3. Shipping (UK)
    Logistics - Shipping
    Work +44 20 7468 8302
    FaxFax: + 44 20 7629 9673
Similar Items