soup tureen, cover, and liner from the Branicki Service

 
Artist
Designer
Designer
Creation date
Materials
gilded silver
Mark Descriptions
Guarantee (tax) marks for the years 1809-1819 and 1819-1838 Maker's marks for Jean-Baptiste-Claude Odiot First title (assay) marks (950/1000 parts of fine metal)
Dimensions
21 1/16 x 28 5/8 x 10 3/8 in.
Credit line
Purchased with funds provided by Steve and Tomisue Hilbert, the Marian and Harold Victor Fund, and the Beeler Fund
Accession number
1997.129A-C
Collection
Currently On View In
Norb and Ruth Schaefer, Sr. & Norb and Carolyn Schaefer Gallery - H211
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Indianapolis Museum of Art: Highlights of the Collection (2005)

Majestic and luxurious, this soup tureen is a prime example of French Empire metalwork. The style, which developed during the reign of Napoleon I, was one in a succession of late 18th- and 19th-century decorative approaches that revived the forms and motifs of ancient Greek and Roman art. Made by Jean-Baptiste-Claude Odiot, a goldsmith to Napoleon, the tureen is, in effect, a piece of Napoleonic sculpture that demonstrates France's passionate embrace of Classical forms at that time. Over the course of Odiot's career, the distinguished artisan regularly supplied important objects not only to Napoleon and other European rulers and aristocrats, but to the French emperor's mother, known as Madame Mère.

The tureen and its mate, now in the collection of the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, each feature two winged victories supporting a massive central bowl with swan's-head handles. The surface of the silver vessel is gilded, creating the impression that it is made of solid gold. The two tureens are the largest items in a 140-piece service commissioned by Count François-Xavier Branicki, a wealthy Polish nobleman. In 1819, the year it was commissioned, the complete service was displayed at the Louvre in a prestigious exhibition of contemporary French artistry. The IMA's tureen is one of the few pieces from this celebrated service that is known to survive.

[There is] no crowned head in Europe, no prince, nor private person of wealth who is not eager to come and order his silver.
-Odiot catalogue, 1819