Silverwork and objets d'art from the collection of Dr. Vincent, a suite of silver and gilt, delivered a triumphant ode to the French Empire.
Mantlepiece ornament in patinated gilt bronze, composed of a clock in the shape of a handled vase on a pedestal adorned with appliquéd friezes of Vestals and two vases of the same design, movement signed Moynet the Elder; clock h. 70.5 cm/27.5 in.
La Gazette had spotlighted the outstanding collection of Empire silver belonging to Dr. Vincent, initially a family bequest and conscientiously expanded since. This was only part of his collection because, as a true enthusiast of a key period for objets d'art, the gentleman had also gathered furniture and bronzes of the highest quality, dispersed at the same time, culminating in a sum total of €684,889.
Among the silver pieces, the Musée des Arts Décoratifs—which already holds a collection of thirty-three objects and 176 original designs from the workshop of Jean-Baptiste-Claude Odiot— chose to preempt at €50,800 a centerpiece presenting two women draped in the style of antiquity, created by the silversmith (see photo). An excellent result that tempered the disappointment from a pair of tureens and another of dessert molds from the same master, appliquéd with the coat-of-arms of Count Charles André Pozzo di Borgo. These double serpent-handled pieces remained unsold.
The other worked pieces saw auction results entirely consistent with their quality: €44,450 was offered at the same time for the coolers and their silver-gilt liners by Jacques-Henri Fauconnier (1779–1839), and for a covered tureen, its display stand and liner by Jean-Charles Cahier (1772–1857).
Objets d'art and furnishings followed, among them two mantlepiece ornaments. The first, attributed to Claude Galle (1759-1815), entirely of gilt bronze and adorned with winged Victories, one of whom carried a torchère, sizzled at €87,720. The second (see photo), although neither signed nor attributed, rang in the highest price of the afternoon, pocketing €96,750. Embellished with appliquéd friezes of Vestals (or Vestal Virgins), the piece in patinated bronze was the epitome of refinement. Moreover, the watchmaker who orchestrated this movement was none other than Louis Moinet (1768–1853), who would later invent the chronograph and create a clock designed specifically for Napoleon in 1806—as soon as its music box is set in motion, the ingenious automation then crowns the Emperor and Josephine. He often collaborated with French sculptor Pierre-Philippe Thomire, which perhaps offers an explanation…