Puiforcat, silversmithing in perspective

On 27 June 2019, by Anne Foster and Claire Papon

This piece has remained in the family since the current owner’s grandparents acquired it. Its drawing is in the Puiforcat archives. Additional attractive features.

Jean-Elisée Puiforcat (1897-1945), centrepiece, ca. 1935, in silver and glass, decorated in the centre with a removable round cup in silver-plated metal, 10 x 51 x 20 cm, 9.285 g.
Estimate: €30,000/50,000

With its straight lines, clear volumes, geometric aspect and lack of superfluous decoration, this silver and glass centrepiece decorated with a cup has obviously been influenced by Cubism. It is functional, beautiful and signed by the modern silverware designer Jean-Élisée Puiforcat, an insatiable perfectionist who liked circles but also made oval, rectangular or square pieces and gave his ornaments in dark wood, rock crystal, hard stone or glass a discreet polychromy. His creative power focused on the most important pieces of silverware - soup tureens, vases and tea and coffee sets – as well as smaller ones: salt and pepper shakers, butter dishes, sauce boats, boxes of all kinds and centrepieces. Centrepieces appeared at the court of Versailles in the late 17th century and seemed so useful that they were quickly imitated throughout Europe. The Cannaméliste français of 1768 defines them as a "silver object placed in the middle of a table during all services: it is usually topped with oil bottles, sugar bowls, lemons and sour cherries". With Puiforcat, form follows function and coldness is just an appearance.

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