The collection of 18th- and early-19th-century French silverware acquired by Calouste Sarkis Gulbenkian between 1900 and 1950 is the most important of its time and one of the most significant sections of the Gulbenkian Museum’s collection. The collection of over 150 pieces constitutes a unique group due to their diversity and quality; it includes several world-class masterpieces representative of Gulbenkian’s taste.
The catalogue is dedicated to a selection of works in silver of different typologies, such as centrepieces, tureens, salt cellars, candelabra and candlesticks, made by renowned silversmiths including François- Thomas Germain, Antoine-Sébastien Durant, Robert-Joseph Auguste and Martin-Guillaume Biennais. Despite this diversity these works all share the characteristics that make this collection unique: quality and authenticity combined with original design, technical expertise and distinguished provenance; former owners include members of the European aristocracy and the Russian imperial family. Most of the works were purchased in Paris but there is an important group of works from the Hermitage collection, acquired following negotiations between
Calouste Gulbenkian and the Soviet government between 1928 and 1930.
The first section describes Gulbenkian’s passion for 18th-century French silverware and the most prominent pieces of the collection are presented in chronological order of acquisition accompanied by comprehensive descriptions and analyses, as well as detailed information on hallmarks, inscriptions, provenance and historical and bibliographical sources. An excellent photographic survey, carried out specifically for the purpose, illustrates the 43 catalogue entries. At the end of the book there is a list of secondary silverware, an index of names and the archive documents and bibliography consulted. The author Peter Fuhring is an internationally renowned expert and has been a consultant to the museum for several years.
Published in English, French and Portuguese by the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum. Hard cover, 408 pp, ISBN: 978 989 9119 05 5