At the Universal Exhibition of 1867, alongside champlevé and painted enamel in the mediaeval and Renaissance tradition, the first modern enamelled pieces, cloisonné in the Chinese or Japanese manner, appeared in European gold work.
In France, Christofle was at the spearhead of this research, thanks to Emile Reiber, the head of the design workshop, and Antoine Tard, a matchless technician. With great originality, Reiber's models introduced Oriental forms, motifs and techniques into Paris production.
Delighted by the refinement of objects recently imported from Japan, the famous silversmiths became fine craftsmen in bronze and enamel. From the end of the Second Empire, the firm developed a collection of art objects adorned with fine naturalistic motifs in subtle colours obtained by enamelling or tinted patinas.
This coffee pot is one of the very earliest examples of that production. The Chinese influence can be seen in its shape and colour, but the budding fancy for Japanese art emerges in the choice of ducks and mice as decorative motifs.