The Duke of Luynes’ {Surtout} by Froment-Meurice Acquired by the Louvre

François-Désiré Froment-Meurice (1801-1855)
after Jean- Jacques Feuchère (1807-1852)
The Duke of Luynes’ Surtout, 1846-1851
Embossed and Partially Gilded Silver
Centerpiece : 105 x 75 x 61 cm
Candelabra : 114 x 37 x 37 cm
Cups : H. 34 cm ; D. 28.8 cm
Paris, Musée du Louvre
Photo : Musée du Louvre

13/6/13 - Acquisition - Paris, Musée du Louvre - During the remarkable exhibition at the Musée de la Vie Romantique (see article, in French), in 2003, highlighting the Froment-Meurice family, the Surtout commissioned by the Duke of Luynes from François-Désiré Froment-Meurice was included in the catalogue but not displayed, reproduced simply in a small black and white photograph (incomplete since the four cups were missing) and in an old view of the exhibition of Produits de l’Industrie held in 1849 where it had been presented.
This exceptional work has now been acquired by the Louvre, thanks to a private transaction handled by Christie’s.

When Froment-Meurice started working on this cup in 1846, he was head of a large workshop with many artists under his supervision. The sculpted model was produced by Jean-Jacques Feuchère while the figures were executed first with a "repoussoir" than chiseled by Mulleret, Dalbergue, Poux and Fannière [1]. Besides the centerpiece showing the figures of Ceres, Bacchus and Venus atop a globe of the earth and surrounded by the signs of the zodiac, all supported by four tritons and nereids with a serpent’s tail, the Surtout is made up of four other cups representing the Seasons and two candelabra, which were produced a bit later and were presented at the Exposition Universelle of 1855 shortly after the death of Froment-Meurice.

By purchasing the Duke of Luynes’ Surtout, thus allowing a major piece of our heritage to join a French museum and exhibiting it permanently to the public, the Louvre is to be commended for carrying out its mission.
However, we cannot help but regret, here again, the dispersion of the furniture found in certain great historical residences (see article, in French). In the château de Dampierre and its collections, there will soon only remain the walls and the paintings on them by Ingres and Flandrin. This heritage is being dilapidated in an inexorable manner when it should be maintained on site for future generations. Will the heritage law promised for the first half of next year, if indeed it ever sees the light of day (we have our doubts after all), finally provide the State with the means needed to save what is still left ?

Version française

Didier Rykner, vendredi 14 juin 2013


[1] Anne Dion-Tennenbaum, "François-Désiré Froment-Meurice" in Trésors d’argent. Les Froment-Meurice, orfèvres romantiques parisiens, exhibition catalogue by the Musée de la Vie Romantique, 2003, p. 39.

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