Musée d'Orsay: Christofle & Cie Tray

Christofle & Cie

Tray, decorated with a "natural impression"
Christofle & Cie
Tray, decorated with a "natural impression"
Circa 1886
Silver-plated metal
H. 46; W. 46 cm
© RMN-Grand Palais (Musée d'Orsay) / René-Gabriel Ojéda

Plateau décoré par "impression naturelle" [Tray, decorated with a "natural impression"]

At the exhibition of metal arts organised by the Central Union of Applied Industrial Arts in1880, the participation of the Maison Christofle was notable for two new processes in manufacture and decoration: the "forged metals" and the decorations of natural printed leaves and flowers, a process patented on 2 October 1880.
As Paul Mantz stated in his report: "While pursuing their studies into obtaining a hammered background for their silverware, they discovered […] a decorative technique using "natural impression". Here in fact nature is not only a guide, but becomes a powerful accessory as the leaves, the flowers, the plants imprint on to the metal all the details of their outline, all their delicate veins".

The leaf used for this plate is from a Victoria Regia, an aquatic plant introduced into the Toulouse area, where workers from the Maison Christofle would go to pick it. This fashion for the naturalist trompe-l'oeil taken to the extreme is a forerunner of some of the experiments undertaken by the Art Nouveau movement.

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