Antique 19th century French sterling silver & gilt vermeil footed compote tazza by silversmith Leroy & Cie for Jules Piault. Richly decorated in the Louis XV taste with an exquisite chased and repousse border. Finished in gorgeous gold vermeil. Featuring an ornate border laden with raised florals and seashell motifs, embellished with intricate scrolling foliage and lattice. Monogrammed MJ or JM in elaborate script. Resting on a pedestal base. In overall good condition with general light wear. Measures 8 7/8" diameter x 1 1/2" height. Weighs 360 grams.
Hallmarked with the French Minerve 1st standard mark used from 1838, which depicts the goddess Minerva with a number 1 beside her to denote a silver content of 950/1000 (of 95% pure silver and a higher finesse than .925 sterling). Bearing maker's marks for silversmith Gustave Leroy & Cie, active from 1886 to 1897 at 68 rue de Turbigo, Paris. Retailer's mark for Jules Piault.
Maison Piault was founded by Francois Piault at 43 boulevard de Sebastopol in 1845. The firm was known briefly as Piault Freres from 1857 until the early 1860's, when Jules Piault became the sole proprietor. Master cutler of King Louis Philippe and Emperor Napoleon III, it was under his directorship that the firm achieved fame for its excellent tableware as shown at the exhibitions in London and Paris in 1862 and 1867, respectively. Piault himself served as juror in the Paris Exposition of 1878 (with his entries therefore ineligible for competition), but he received gold medals in Sidney (1879) and Melbourne (1880) and an honorable mention in Amsterdam (1883). The civic-minded Piault was a member of the Paris Chamber of Commerce from 1881-1892, serving first as head of the Education Commission and later, from 1893-1894, as the Chamber's Vice-President. It was around this time - perhaps because of Piault's increased civic responsibilities - that Gustave Leroy began to act as an exclusive supplier to Piault. Leroy & Cie.'s mark was registered on November 15, 1886 at Piault's manufacturing address (68 rue de Turbigo) and with his trademark (a royal crown). While the precise nature of the partnership is not known, the companies seem to have functioned as essentially one entity: their entry in the Paris Centennial Exposition of 1889, for instance, was listed as "Leroy & Cie., Maison Jules Piault" and, as on the present centerpiece, many items appear with Leroy's maker's mark alongside Piault's retailer's stamp. Both companies were simultaneously succeeded by Robert Linzeler in the spring of 1897; Linzeler would continue the firm into the 1920's, maintaining its reputation as one of the finest tableware manufacturers of the Third Republic.
Quality Antiques, Sterling Silver, Porcelain & Decorative Arts