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An Art Nouveau Snail for MAD in Paris

On 05 July 2021, by Anne Doridou-Heim

Good things are worth the wait. This quirky teapot adorned with a snail joins the collections of the Paris Museum of Decorative Arts (MAD).

An Art Nouveau Snail for MAD in Paris

Alphonse Debain (goldsmith in Paris from 1883 to 1911), cast vermeil teapot decorated with grapevines, sheaves of wheat, vine branches and leaves, pumpkin-shaped body, snail-shaped spout, 1900, h. 19.1 cm/7.51 in, weight 1,363 gr./48.08 oz.
Result: €38,400

Cast in 1900, this rare, astonishing vermeil teapot was preempted by the Parisian decorative arts museum for its Art Nouveau department, which reopens on July 6 after the comprehensive remodeling of its rooms devoted to the movement born in the late 19th century, for the sum of €38,400. The naturalist model with a pumpkin-shaped body features grape branches, grapevines and sheaves of wheat on its sides and a spout in the form of a conquering, gluttonous snail  (perhaps commissioned by a Burgundian aesthete). It was made by Alphonse Debain, a manufacturer and goldsmith, who worked in Paris from 1883 to 1911 at 79 rue du Temple. One can only dream how many pieces he would have created had his career been longer. As a photo attests, this teapot was on display at his stand during the famous 1900 Paris Exposition. for the moment, that is about the only thing known about its background.

Orfèvrerie & art de la table
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