Boucheron

A French Masterpiece in the High Japonisme Style

Boucheron

A French Masterpiece in the High Japonisme Style

A French Dessert Tazza
Silver, Vermeil, Niello and Enamel
Paris, circa 1881
Bearing the Maker’s mark of Boucheron.

Designed by Paul Legrand
Marked No 44 which is the pattern number that attributes this piece to the drawing by Paul Legrand.

Height: 14 cm, 5 1/5 in.
Length: 24 cm, 9 ½ in.
Weight: 2,021 g, 64 oz 19 dwt
 

The tazza is in the Japanese style, the base with contours decorated with a landscape together with cherry branches in black enamel. The tazza on a base decorated with country scenes and geometric patterns in blue, red, black and yellow enamels. This base with three kneeling children bearing the triangular cup with three medallions with characters and flowers partly enamelled and nielloed, also engraved with bamboos and a bird. 

The hallmarks under the base are those of Boucheron together with the retail stamp of Boucheron of Paris. This superb dessert centrepiece also has a certificate from Maison Boucheron.

Fréderic Boucheron (1830-1902) opened his first jewellery store in 1858 in the gallery Valois in the Palais Royal in Paris, and in 1866, his own workshop, employing talented silversmiths such as Charles Glachant. In 1867, Paul Legrand (1840-1910) joins the firm as workshop manager. The new pieces created by this duo admired at the Paris 1867 Exposition Universelle, earned Boucheron a Gold medal.

The innovative spirit of the firm was from then on rewarded at the following Expositions Universelles, especially the 1878 when the Jury awarded Boucheron a Grand Prix for the Japonist style pieces.

Japonism became popular in Europe with the opening of Japan to the rest of the world from 1853. The flooding of Japanese works of art (fabric, prints, sculptures, netsuke, inro etc.) provided a rich source of inspiration for artists and ornaments with new shapes as well as new ornaments such as bamboos, peonies, carps, cherry blossom and, Japanese figures. The taste for this new style engulfed Paris with Empress Eugénie commissioning a Chinese cabinet for Fontainebleau in 1863. To furnish it, she bought Japanese and Chinese artefacts to complement the pieces she had been gifted by the Siam embassy in 1861. Adolphe Thiers, Henri Cernuschi or Clémence d’Ennery also put together important collections today kept in various Paris museums.

As chief designer, Paul Legrand, used this new decorative vocabulary, combined with medieval and renaissance enamelling techniques, such as champlevé, basse-taille and cloisonné to create a colourful and elegant body of work. This include an inkstand with Pho lions and floral motives, now at the Fine Arts de Boston and another dated circa 1878, offered at Christie’s New York, on April 14, 2005, lot 95, two brush pots with enamelled Japanese figures offered at Christie’s New York, on July 9, 1995, lot 146, a smoker necessaire in a private collection, and another example sold at Sotheby’s New York, on October 21, 1997, lot 54.

This tazza, described in the company’s archives as a bonbon dish because of the children figures holding the bowl, is not only a unique piece but also a perfect example of this style.

Japonisme remained popular in Europe until the 1890s, when it was replaced by Art and Crafts in Britain and Art Nouveau in continental Europe. Nonetheless Frédéric Boucheron remained fond of the style and created a Chinese salon with Vernis Martin panels in the firm’s new shop at 26, place Vendôme where he moved in 1893. This salon still exists today and hides a private room to welcome Boucheron’s most important customers, a memento to Fréderic Boucheron’s love for Japonisme.

Fréderic Boucheron (1830-1902) opened his first jewellery store in 1858 in the gallery Valois in the Palais Royal in Paris, and in 1866, his own workshop, employing talented silversmiths such as Charles Glachant. In 1867, Paul Legrand (1840-1910) joins the firm as workshop manager. The new pieces created by this duo admired at the Paris 1867 Exposition Universelle, earned Boucheron a Gold medal. The innovative spirit of the firm was from then on rewarded at the following Expositions Universelles, especially the 1878 when the Jury awarded Boucheron a Grand Prix for the Japonist style pieces.

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