Designed by Jean-Jacques Feuchère, French, 1807 - 1852. Made by P.-H.-Émile Froment-Meurice, French, 1837 - 1913.

Made in France, Europe


Engraved, chased, and cast silver

Height: 27 9/16 inches (70 cm)

Curatorial Department:
European Decorative Arts and Sculpture

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Joseph Sataloff, 1980

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This centerpiece--part of an elaborate silver table service that included candelabra, footed dishes, salt cellars, and platters--was made for a Spanish nobleman, the sixteenth duke of Medinaceli. It is adorned with aquatic images taken from Italian Renaissance sources, including Neptune and Venus, Roman mythological deities, and a nymph, a female nature spirit from Greek myth.

Additional information:
  • PublicationPhiladelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections

    The Parisian firm of Emile Froment-Meurice produced this monumental centerpiece for a spectacular ensemble of silver table decorations, all ornamented with mythological figures and other motifs culled from an eclectic combination of Italian High Renaissance sources. The centerpiece was conceived by the sculptor Jean-Jacques Feuchère as a table fountain decorated with such aquatic images as figures of Neptune, Venus, and a sea nymph, and topped with a boat-shaped dish that would have contained an elaborate arrangement of fruit and sweets. One of the most fashionable silversmiths of mid-nineteenth-century Paris, Froment-Meurice played a significant role in the revival of the Italian Renaissance style in France, largely through its collaboration with Feuchère. This style offered a luxuriant choice of motifs and materials to the members of the French court and aristocracy who were among the clients of Froment-Meurice, and was the favored decoration for their Parisian dining rooms, where they entertained with the opulence and authority of Renaissance princes. Katherine B. Hiesinger, from Philadelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections (1995), p. 154.
  • PublicationStyles, 1850-1900

    This centerpiece formed part of an elaborate table service in the Renaissance style executed in Paris by the firm of Froment-Meurice for a Spanish nobleman, the sixteenth duke of Medinaceli. Designed by the sculptor Jean-Jacques Feuchère in classical marine imagery, the centerpiece takes the form of a basin where putti, tritons, hippocamps, and dolphins swim. From the center, standing on shells against reeds and a great fountain, rise the figures of Neptune, Venus, and a nymph; afloat on the fountain is a boat-shaped coupe decorated with allegories of swimming and fishing. Feuchère was one of the first nineteenth-century French sculptors to revive the Renaissance idiom and also one of the first to provide designs for silversmiths: such designs were considered so unsuitably elaborate that one silversmith was reproached by a critic for "executing sculpture and architecture in silver."

    Froment-Meurice was one of the two most important silversmiths in Second Empire Paris, with patrons including the French emperor as well as many foreign heads of state. It was the practice of the firm to rely on the work of outside collaborators, particularly for large and important commissions. This centerpiece was modeled from a design earlier supplied by Feuchère and chased by François-Joseph-Louis Fannière, Poux, and Alexandre Daubergue under the direction of Babeur. The ornamental and figure sculpture of the rest of the service--which included candelabra, footed dishes in three sizes, saltcellars, and platters--was executed by Doussamy and Honoré. Kathryn B. Hiesinger, from Guides to European Decorative Arts: Styles, 1850-1900 (1984), p. 12.