Or are you looking for Search the Archives?

Please complete the form to email this item.

Vase

  • Place of origin:

    Paris (made)

  • Date:

    1873-78 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Rieber, Emile, born 1826 - died 1893 (designed)
    Christofle et Cie (made)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Electroformed copper, cast copper alloy, patinated, gilded and electroplated; gilded enamel plaques

  • Credit Line:

    Gift of the Al Thani Collection Foundation

  • Museum number:

    M.8-2019

  • Gallery location:

    Silver, Room 67, The Whiteley Galleries, case 11

This vase was made by one of the foremost art-metal manufacturers of the 19th century, the large Parisian company of Christofle & Company. The model for this vase was first shown on their stand at the Vienna Weltausstellung (World's Fair) in 1873 and again at the Exposition Universelle (Universal Exhibition) in Paris in 1878. The designs for the enamelled plaques, which were drawn by the head of the company's design studio, Emile Rieber and dated May 1872, survive in the Christofle archives. Many international influences inspired the decoration of the vase, from Egyptian 'key' patterns to imitation Indian silver inlays. The enamel plaques, speak to a European interest in Japanese styles. Made using the new industrial technique of electroforming and bought by a civil engineer, George Janin, probably at the Paris Exhibition of 1878, the vase was the very model of modernity.

Physical description

Electroformed copper and cast copper alloy vase, patinated to look bronze and with decoration electroplated with silver, mounted with gilded enamel plaques depicting flowers in blue, yellow and green with additional panels showing abstract ornament in red, black and blue. The handles are gilded with pierced bamboo leaf decoration and the foot is supported by 4 elephants' heads, each cast in copper alloy and partly electroplated with leaves and abstract ornament. The vase has a screw-threaded rod that holds the lining, bowl and foot together.

Place of Origin

Paris (made)

Date

1873-78 (made)

Artist/maker

Rieber, Emile, born 1826 - died 1893 (designed)
Christofle et Cie (made)

Materials and Techniques

Electroformed copper, cast copper alloy, patinated, gilded and electroplated; gilded enamel plaques

Dimensions

Height: 400 mm, Width: 175 mm

Object history note

This vase was made by one of the foremost art-metal manufacturers of the 19th century, the large Parisian company of Christofle & Company. The model for this vase was first shown on their stand at the Vienna Weltausstellung (World's Fair) in 1873 and again at the Exposition Universelle (Universal Exhibition) in Paris in 1878. The designs for the enamelled plaques, which were drawn by the head of the company's design studio, Emile Rieber and dated May 1872, survive in the Christofle archives.

The vase's design demonstrates a variety of international influences from Egyptian key patterns and imitation Indian silver inlays to Japanese inspired enamel designs ('Japonisme'). It was also made using a range of traditional and modern techniques that combine the mid-19th-century ideals of art, science and industry. The vase is electroformed in copper and then patinated to look bronze while the imitation inlays are electroplated onto the surface.

The first owner of the vase, George Janin, was one of the 19th-century's new art-buying public, a civil engineer who later emigrated to Canada and built the sewerage system in Montreal. Ownership of the vase has change hands only 4 times. It passed by descent through Janin's family until 1999 when it was bought by a private collector in Montreal. In 2018 it was presented to the V&A by the Al Thani Collection Foundation.

Only 3 copies of this vase are known. One of the vases was sold in 2018, also by Oscar Graf, to the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City. The other is in the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris.

Historical context note

Christofle & Cie was was founded in 1845 by Charles Christofle (1805-1863), who became silversmith to Napoleon III. The company specialized in dining silver and grand exhibition pieces in a variety of styles from naturalism, Orientalism, Japonisme, Art Nouveau and Art Deco. Christofle bought licences from the Birmingham manufacturer, Elkington & Co., to develop electroforming and electroplating in France in 1844. They produced a number of electroformed and enamelled vases and centerpieces that were shown at international exhibitions. This model was shown on Christofle's stand at the Vienna Weltausstellung (World's Fair), 1873 and again at the Exposition Universelle, Paris, 1878, when it was most likely bought by Janin.

The designer of the enamelled plaques, Emile Rieber, in association with the ceramicist Theodore Deck, founded the influential periodical L'Art Pour Tous , which specialised in the application of art to industry. In the early 1860s he joined Christofle's design studio and by the end of the decade he was in charge of it. Reiber's influence made Christolfe one of the earliest and most important suppliers of Japonisme metalwork.

Along with this vase, the V&A's collection of Christofle metalwork includes several enamelled tea and coffee pots and a sugar bowl as well as a commemorative plaque from the Paris Exhibition of 1867. These were enamelled by Antoine Tard. The collection also contains one vase of silver plated copper designed by Reiber for Christofle.

Descriptive line

Electroformed copper and cast copper alloy vase, plated with silver and mounted with gilded enamel plaques, made by Christofle et Cie, Paris, 1873-78, with enamelled plaques designed by Emile Rieber, ca. 1872, a model first shown as the Vienna Weltausstellung (World's Fair), 1873

Labels and date

VASE
Electroformed copper, cast copper alloy, patinated, gilded and electroplated; gilded enamel plaques
Paris, about 1873
Christofle & Company

Many international influences inspired the decoration of this vase, from Egyptian 'key' patterns to imitation Indian silver inlays. The enamel plaques, designed by Emil Reiber, head of Christofle's design studio, speak to a European interest in Japanese styles. Made using the new industrial technique of electroforming and bought by a civil engineer, George Janin, probably at the Paris Exhibition of 1878, the vase would have been the very model of modernity.

Gift of the Al Thani Collection Foundation
M.8-2019
[27/06/2019]

Materials

Copper; Gold; Electroplate; Enamel

Techniques

Electroforming; Casting; Electrogilding; Patinating; Electroplating; Enamelling

Production Type

Limited edition

Collection

Metalwork Collection

Large image request

Please confirm you are using these images within the following terms and conditions, by acknowledging each of the following key points:

Please let us know how you intend to use the images you will be downloading.