Jean-Baptiste-Claude Odiot (1763-1850)
Bronze, silver-plated by Christofle in 1907-1908
Long-term loan from the Fonds National d’Art Contemporain, 1907
Inv. FNAC PFH 4538
© MAD / photo: Jean Tholance
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Jean-Baptiste Claude Odiot, who created this piece from a design by Adrien Louis Marie Cavelier, was one of the most important silversmiths of the Empire. His reputation was based on the technique he used to attach the decorative motifs: each element was made separately, then fixed to the body of the piece with small screws and bolts. This simple method facilitated the invention of a whole variety of borders, bases, handles and lid knobs in various sizes, offering Odiot’s large and wealthy French and international clientele a wide range of choices. A similar tureen to this one was purchased by the rich Russian prince Nikolai Demidov, who settled in Paris in 1815 and commissioned a splendid silver-gilt service of 219 pieces, some of which were presented at the Exhibition of French Industrial Products in 1819. In the light of their success, Odiot, keen to leave his mark on the history of French silverware, decided to give the government thirty-two bronze models to be used for training young silversmiths. This unique collection was deposited at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in 1892. In 1907, the Christofle silverware factory offered to silver plate all the pieces by electroplating; the museum board accepted on the grounds that it would be “interesting to give this collection its true character.” A fine coating of silver was thus applied to each piece, covering the dark, matte surface of the bronze and eliminating the unfinished appearance of all the workshop models.