Lot 219

COMPETITION TROPHY by FROMENT-MEURICE, 1858 in chased and repoussé silver. Circular cup engraved with foliage and agrarian symbols, inscribed on the rim "REGIONAL COMPETITION OF ALENCON PRIME D'HONNEUR 1858". A baluster shaft to which two female allegorical figures with sheaves of wheat, bunch of flowers, tools, plough and dog are attached. It rests on a base with four hoofed feet, decorated with four medallions with protruding heads: bull, ram, horse and pig. Minerva hallmark. Goldsmith's mark on the reverse. Height 43.6, diameter 37.4 cm. Gross weight: about 8,700 g. (small lacks). Froment-Meurice competition trophy in silver, identical to the one preserved in the museum of Compiègne. Similar model: Paul-Émile Froment-Meurice, Coupe sur pied, silver, Musée national de Compiègne, (C.78.001). The Froment-Meurice dynasty is among the greatest goldsmiths of the 19th century, as evidenced by the nickname given to François-Désiré: "Le Cellini". This reference to the great Italian sculptor of the Renaissance demonstrates all his virtuosity. His silver masterpieces bear witness to this, such as the "Coupe des Vendanges" preserved in the Louvre Museum (OA 11O11). François-Désiré Froment-Meurice then presented himself as a master for his son, Paul-Émile, who took over the family workshop after his father's death in 1855. Under the direction of Paul-Émile, the workshop continued the tradition by taking over certain models and shapes. The two agrarian figures of our cup are indeed not without reminding the women of the candelabra of especially the Duke of Luynes (Musée du Louvre, OA 1250 1 and 2) and precisely the garlands of flowers whose design is provided by the master sculptor Jacques Feuchère, from 1846. Paul-Émile Froment-Meurice however adapted the iconography to the agricultural repertoire. One holds a shepherd's crook, the other a sickle and a sheaf of wheat between rake, shovel and ploughing tool. The base features four heads of farm animals: bull, ram, horse and pig. The agricultural reference results from the destination of our trophy, which rewards the winner of the Alençon agricultural competition of 1858. This copy takes the form of the trophy known as the Montbrison trophy dating from 1857, now kept in the National Museum of the Château de Compiègne (C.78.001). These two trophies were then presented as "prototype models". From 1843 onwards, the Poissy competition, the forerunner of the Concours général agricole, rewarded breeders supplying the capital with a trophy. Regional competitions were organised in the wake of this. On these occasions, the greatest goldsmiths such as Christofle, Fannière, Froment-Meurice or Odiot competed in imagination to propose the trophy to the competition. The selected goldsmith then delivers the awards to the winners of the agricultural exhibitions for five years, before a new competition is opened. The oxidized patina of this cup is reminiscent of the agony that Napoleon III's Tuileries Palace underwent, which was found in the smoking ruins after the fire of 1870.