A Renaissance silver treasure acquired by the Musée Lorrain


9/11/09 – Acquisition – Nancy, Musée Lorrain – An article by Vincent Noce in Libération Thursday recounts an interesting story with a happy ending. To summarize (we refer our readers to the newspaper article, available online, in French in a few days for free), thirty-one silversmith works were discovered on 11 November 2006 by a resident of Pouilly-sur-Meuse in Lorraine hidden on his property. Listed as a national treasure last 27 April, this collection was to have come up for auction on 9 November at Sotheby’s Paris, in several lots. Instead, an agreement was finally reached between the owner and the Musée Lorrain which will acquire it for a total of 1.4 million euros raised by the Ministry of Culture and local municipalities (we do not know at this point if there was a patron). The lots were thus withdrawn from the auction but can still be seen at Sotheby’s until next Saturday, 7 November.

The main pieces of this national treasure, dating between 1480 and 1570, are as follows :

1. Paris, c. 1480
Ewer
Silver and vermeil - 18.2 cm
Nancy, Musée Lorrain
Photo : Sotheby’s Paris



- a covered ewer (ill. 1), Paris around 1480. According to the sale catalogue, this would be the oldest acknowledged Parisian ewer. Only the one in the Coëffort treasure, in Le Mans, is older.

2. Paris, c.1531-1532
Salt dish
Silver and vermeil - 7.3 cm
Nancy, Musée Lorrain
Photo : Sotheby’s Paris



- a salt dish (ill. 2), Paris, 1531-1532. Another salt dish (France, around 1530), in three pieces, is also in this treasure.

3. Reims, c. 1550
Cup
Silver and vermeil - 13.8 cm
Nancy, Musée Lorrain
Photo : Sotheby’s Paris



- a cup with stem (ill. 3), Reims, around 1550. The origin in Reims is indicated by the holy ampulla visible on the silversmith hallmark. A similar cup is held at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London.

4. Châlons-en-Champagne, c. 1550
Pair of cups
Silver and vermeil - 13.8 cm
Nancy, Musée Lorrain
Photo : Sotheby’s Paris



- a pair of cups (ill. 4), Châlons-en-Champagne, around 1550.

5. Théodore de Bry (1527-1598)
Two nesting tumblers, 1560-1567
Silver and vermeil - 21.3 cm (both)
Nancy, Musée Lorrain
Photo : Sotheby’s Paris



- two nesting tumblers one with stem (ill. 5), by Théodore de Bry, 1560-1567. This silversmith, a native of Liège but who settled in Strasbourg, is also known as an engraver. Notably, he published illustrations of trips to America.

5. Châlons-en-Champagne, c. 1520
Twelve spoons
Silver and vermeil - 15 cm
Nancy, Musée Lorrain
Photo : Sotheby’s Paris



The collection also includes two other tumblers of silver and vermeil, as well as several sets of spoons, among these twelve spoons produced in Châlons-en-Champagne around 1520 (ill. 6). They are important because quite rare. Until now, there were no known sets of twelve pieces of silverware dated before the 17th century.

Version française


Didier Rykner, lundi 9 novembre 2009



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