The Rijksmuseum Purchases a Silver Vase by Antoine Vechte

Antoine Vechte (1799-1868)
Vase Neptune Taming the Waves
and the Triumph of Galatea

Silver - H. 68 cm
Weight : 4055 g
Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum
Photo : Galerie Kugel

14/3/13 - Acquisition - Amsterdam - The Rijksmuseum, which is to reopen its doors in a few days after renovations lasting almost a decade (and which we will soon discuss), acquired a masterpiece of 19th century French silver from the Kugel gallery : the vase of Neptune and Galatea, the first signed piece by Antoine Vechte, commissioned by the Duke of Luynes probably in 1836 and dating from 1843. The purchase was made at the Maastricht Fair 2013, inaugurated today in the presence of a great number of art enthusiasts, collectors and museum curators.

Trained by the sculptor Jean-Jacques Feuchères, Vechte quickly became sought after for his production of helmets and shields executed in a Renaissance style, sold by a dealer who presented them as being by Benvenuto Cellini. Thanks partly to the Duke of Luynes’ commission, the artist managed to make himself known and went on to lead a brilliant career, collaborating with sculptors like Jules Klagman and Feuchères, as well as with other silversmiths such as Froment-Meurice, receiving many official orders and working for Parisian high society.
After the Revolution of 1848, faced with a sharp decrease in demand, he decided to settle in England and was hired by Hunt & Ruskell, silversmiths.

The vase acquired by the Rijksmuseum is typical of Vechte’s technique, repoussé work (he had nicknamed himself "Vechte the repousseur". Finely chiseled, on one side it represents Neptune Taming the Waves, on the other the Triumph of Galatea. The rest of the décor is made up notably of scrolls of leaves and flowers surrounding a head of Medusa, of a mask of a bearded man and of putti astride dragons ; a bas -relief frieze appears under the neck showing a battle of sea monsters, tritons and nereids ; the two handles are in the form of sirens holding a child, the foot is decorated with free-standing figures of children, dolphins and sea monsters. It bears the monogram of the patron while the arms are those of his ancestor, Charles d’Albert, Duke of Luynes, a favorite of Louis XIII [1].
The Louvre holds a work by Antoine Vechte, known as the cup of the Creation, commissioned by Thiers in 1849.

Version française

Didier Rykner, mercredi 20 mars 2013


[1] In writing this article, we drew extensively, notably for the description of the work, from the Sotheby’s entry for an auction in Monaco in 1993 where the object was sold.

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