Christofle, a brilliant story

from 6 November 2024 to 20 April 2025

Christofle, goldsmith, Émile Reiber 1826-1893, Vase, Paris, circa 1874
Gilded and patinated bronze, cloisonné enamel
© Les Arts Décoratifs / Jean Tholance

The Musée des Arts décoratifs presents a major exhibition on the Maison Christofle, showing how, from its foundation in the 1830s to the present day, this line of talented goldsmiths, begun by Charles Christofle (1805-1863) and Henri Bouilhet (1830-1910), transformed the lines and decorations of silverware, allowing it to become a feature of daily life. Through an immersive and magical exhibition, this large retrospective features a selection of over six hundred pieces of gold and silverwork, paintings, drawings, and posters, from the Bouilhet-Christofle Collection and other major national collections. The first exhibition of this scale, it has been organized by the Musée des Arts décoratifs, which has always maintained close links with the Maison Christofle, recognized as part of France’s tangible heritage since the second half of the 19th century.

From small spoons to large vases, as well as monumental pieces of furniture created for world fairs, this exhibit reveals forgotten aspects of the work of the Maison Christofle to visitors. The Maison exploited the full potential of metal to create works of all dimensions, typologies, and colours, combining silver, gold, enamels, and patinas. Throughout the different gallery spaces, visitors are invited to go behind the scenes of creation where the secrets of this remarkable expertise are revealed. Tableware, laid out in both intimate and majestic settings, also brings to life, thanks to a resolutely contemporary scenography, the splendour of the legendary restaurants and palaces like the Ritz, iconic trains, liners, and planes like the Orient Express, the Normandie and the Concorde, as well as places of political power, all supplied by Christofle, considered an ambassador of luxury and the French art de vivre both in France and abroad.

Christofle, goldsmith, Ramdane Touhami, Objet Miroir (Mirror Object) Coffee cup, Paris, 2022
Silver-plated metal
© Christofle

Today, always in search of innovation, the Maison Christofle is present in our daily lives, transforming the most ordinary objects into design pieces: video game consoles, coffee cups, and sneaker boxes. For almost two hundred years, Christofle has worked with some of the greatest creators, like Luc Lanel, Gio Ponti, Andrée Putman, and Karl Lagerfeld, to revolutionize traditional goldsmithery. Finally, this exhibition may be said to show the long history of the decorative arts as seen through the prism of goldsmithery: from historicism to Japanism, Art Nouveau to Art Deco, as well as 1950s’ design to today’s highly contemporary creations.

The exhibition is presented in the Christine & Stephen A. Schwarzman fashion galleries.

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