A Rare Pair of Bronze Athenienne tazzas with Burnished and Matte Gilding, Empire period

Attributed to Pierre-Philippe Thomire
Paris, Empire period, circa 1805-1810
Height 51.2 cm; diameter 29.7 cm
ach tazza is made entirely of finely chased and engine-turned gilt bronze with patinated, matte and burnished finishing. They stand on crossed braces that are connected by roundels and rest upon three clawed lions’ paws with rounded upper rims that are decorated with leaf and seed motifs. The Athenienne tripod base supports a circular bowl with leaf frieze decoration and a gadrooned belly. The pedestal is adorned with engine-turned bands and rests upon a stepped entablature with a central large pinecone finial. The solid, shaped base is made of green breccia marble.
he unusual design of the present tazzas, featuring crossed braces centered by roundels, was inspired by classical tripods, tables, and atheniennes such as those that may be seen in the Louvre Museum in Paris and the Archaeological Museum in Naples (see G. Henriot, Le luminaire de la Renaissance au XIXe siècle, Paris, plate 27). This particularly elaborate model, produced during the Empire period, may be confidently attributed to bronze caster Pierre-Philippe Thomire. It was produced either in the form of athenienne tazzas such as the present model (very rarely), or pedestal tables. A few rare pedestal tables with similar bases are known; among them, one example with an octagonal tabletop of imitation bronze-painted patinated wood, which is today in the Musée des Arts décoratifs in Paris (illustrated in C. Bizot, Mobilier Directoire Empire, Editions Charles Massin, Paris, p. 69). A second example, attributed to the Jacob brothers’ workshop, is illustrated in J-P. Samoyault, Mobilier français Consulat et Empire, Editions Gourcuff Gradenigo, Paris, 2009, p. 120, fig. 204). One further model was delivered in 1809 by Jacob-Desmalter, to be placed in the cabinet particulier of the Empress’s apartments in Fontainebleau Palace (see J-P. Samoyault, Fontainebleau, Musée national du Château, Catalogue des collections de mobilier 3, Meubles entrés sous le Premier Empire, RMN, Paris, 2004, p. 253, catalogue n° 180).
ierre-Philippe Thomire (1757-1843)
Having become a master founder on May 18, 1772, he was the most important Parisian bronzier of the first quarter of the 18th century and the early years of the following century. Initially he worked for Pierre Gouthière, chaser-founder to the king, and as of the mid-1770s he worked with Louis Prieur. He later became one of the official bronziers of the Royal Sèvres Factory, creating bronze he bought the stock of Martin-Eloi Lignereux and became the main supplier of bronze furnishings for the imperial palaces. He also had a number of wealthy several of Napoleon’s marshals. He retired in the mid-1820s and died in 1843.


Thomire Pierre-Philippe

Thomire A Rare Pair of Bronze Athenienne tazzas with Burnished and Matte Gilding, Empire period