Silver centrepiece depicting a railway bridge which inspired Claude Monet on sale with Bonhams


Fine Silver
21 Nov 2012
London, New Bond Street

A 19th Century French silver table centrepiece by the firm of Froment-Meurice comes to auction

This monumental piece of French craftsmanship is featured in the Fine Silver sale at New Bond Street on 21st November (estimate £40,000-£60,000).

François-Désiré Froment-Meurice (1802-1855) was a French silversmith who achieved considerable fame and prestige during his lifetime. His list of patrons included Queen Victoria and Napoleon III and his objects can be seen in the V&A and the Musée des Arts Décoratifs.

One of the plaques on the bowl of the centrepiece illustrates a 'Bicycle' locomotive pulling a train across the bridge at Argenteuil. This was a famous scene of inspiration for the impressionist painter, Claude Monet. Subtly embedded in the design of the centrepiece, it is a celebration of the new Arts of Industry and Commerce.

At over half a metre in height and weighing almost twenty kilogrammes this important piece of industrial commemoration is a unique piece of silversmithing. Although the purpose of this work is unknown, the three relief plaques depicting scenes of rail engineering suggest it was probably created to commemorate the development of the rail link between Argenteuil and Ermont.

Michael Moorcroft, Head of the Silver department said: "The Froment-Meurice centrepiece is one of the largest pieces of silver ever to be auctioned by Bonhams. It is a delightful reinterpretation of classical ideals modernised for the French Industrial age."

Also featured in the sale is an important French silver-gilt soup tureen, by Jean-Baptiste Claude Odiot (estimate £40,000-£45,000) and a Victorian silver centrepiece, based on Pliny's Doves, by Hunt & Roskell (estimate £15,000-£20,000).


NOTES FOR EDITORS

Bonhams, founded in 1793, is one of the world's largest auctioneers of fine art and antiques. The present company was formed by the merger in November 2001 of Bonhams & Brooks and Phillips Son & Neale. In August 2002, the company acquired Butterfields, the principal firm of auctioneers on the West Coast of America. Today, Bonhams offers more sales than any of its rivals, through two major salerooms in London: New Bond Street and Knightsbridge; and a further three in the UK regions and Scotland. Sales are also held in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Carmel, New York and Connecticut in the USA; and Germany, France, Monaco, Hong Kong and Australia. Bonhams has a worldwide network of offices and regional representatives in 25 countries offering sales advice and valuation services in 60 specialist areas. For a full listing of upcoming sales, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments go to www.bonhams.com

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