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Electrotype Ciborium

Electrotype Ciborium

  • Place of origin:

    Paris (made)

  • Date:

    1887 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Christofle et Cie (made)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Copper, electroformed, electrogilded, engraved; glass; wax

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Boardroom, case CA2, shelf 3 []

This ciborium and another (see Circ. 1913-566) are electrotypes of the medieval 'Maitre Alpais' ciborium, an iconic example of metalwork and enamel made in Limoges c. 1200. Electrotypes were produced as copies of renowned objects in public and private collections so that the design and workmanship of the original could be admired and studied by a wide and varied audience. A number of museums agreed that their collections could be copied, amongst them the Musee du Louvre, and the South Kensington Museum. The firm of Christofle in Paris produced electrotypes of originals at the Musee du Louvre, and many of these electrotypes were purchased by the South Kensington Museum.
As with all electrotypes of original objects, the principal mechanical differences are those of the method of fabrication and the materials used. In this electrotype, wax is used to form the coloured background and imitate the champleve enamelling of the original ciborium. It is thought wax was used as it did not require high temperatures for its applicatoin.

Physical description

An Electrotype Ciborium, comprising cup, cover and foot. Electrotype of copper, electrogilded, and decorated with wax and glass. Of hemispherical form, the bodies of the cup and cover decorated with lozenge-shaped registers; the bands forming the lozenges engraved and decorated with red wax, interrupted at the interstices with glass cabochons and turquoise-coloured opaque glass. The lozenges containing figures of angels and prophets, the angels' wings variously spread, crossed or folded. The figures rise from a calyx, the lozenges with angels also with dots, the lozenges with prophets with scrolling foliage. The cover with hemispherical knop on tall neck, comprising in the upper part four figures against openwork architectural background, with a foliate terminal, the plain band at centre decorated with cabochons, the lower part with stylized foliage. The rim of the cup with pseudo-Kufic script. The cup on spreading conical foot with openwork panel containing inhabited foliage around an inner lining. The bowl of the cup fitted with an inner lining. The inner lining of the foot, the openwork panel, the inner lining of the cup and the bowl of the cup all joined together with a screw, visible on the underneath. The interior of the foot bears the applied oval medallion of the Union Centrale des Arts Decoratifs (UCAD) and the number 131.

Place of Origin

Paris (made)


1887 (made)


Christofle et Cie (made)

Materials and Techniques

Copper, electroformed, electrogilded, engraved; glass; wax

Marks and inscriptions

'UCAD' '131'
'Union Centrale des Arts Decoratifs'
The applied oval medallion of the Union Centrale des Arts Decoratifs, with the number 131.


Height: 297 mm Total height with cover, Diameter: 15 cm

Object history note

Purchased directly from MM Christofle et Cie for 10.10.0. in 1888.

Descriptive line

Electrotype Ciborium, MM Christofle et Cie, Paris,1887. An electrotype of the medieval 'Maitre Alpais' ciborium, Limoges, c. 1200.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

McLeod, B., Campbell, M., and Nouvel, O., "A Christofle Electrotype of the Medieval Maitre Alpais Ciborium", 'The Heritage of Maitre Alpais', British Museum Research Paper, December 2010, pp. 33-39.


Copper; Glass; Wax


Electroforming; Engraving



Production Type

Limited edition


Metalwork Collection

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