Keller Frères
Wine or water pitcher

Wine or water pitcher
Keller Frères
Wine or water pitcher
Circa 1900
Hammered silver, traces of vermeil, attached handle
H. 31,7; W. 18 cm
© RMN-Grand Palais (Musée d'Orsay) / Gérard Blot

Broc à vin ou à eau [Wine or water pitcher]


At the height of Art Nouveau, luxury goods were still largely decorated with allegorical or naturalist ornamentation. So, at the 1900 Universal Exhibition, the gold and silversmiths would compete in using their skills to interpret this rich symbolism in chased, cast and embossed silver. Several works by Keller Frères, however, were surprising for their boldness of shape and their sobriety, particularly a small series of wine and water pitchers in hammered silver and gold-plated silver. Some have a robust, angular shape, others, like this model, are notable for the unusual fluidity of their design. These objects aroused the enthusiasm of Roger Marx who applauded these efforts "of introducing gold and silverwork without relief, without chasing, a unified style of silverwork where only the quality of the lines, the curves and the shapes are important".

These inventions, unique in contemporary Parisian silverwork, were astonishing for their bold simplicity. These objects, surely the prototypes for industrial design, apparently remained unique pieces, experiments at a stage when objects were still made using purely artisan methods.


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