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Bernard de Leye Gallery

Collection: 1750 — Kettel

1750 - Paris (France)
François-Thomas Germain


The kettle mounted on a round basis is totally decorated with twenty two wide godrons. The ribbed spout, is fixed on the paunch by a magnificent decoration of a double row of alternated water leaves. The handle is made with two mobile elements of which the central part is in twisted rosewood. The lid shows serie of radiant godsons topped by a spinning grip.
This kettle is quoted in none of numerous articles and works published on Germain fathers and son. This totally original and unknown work until these days, shows all the characteristics of the pieces made by this prestigious silversmith. We find the originality of the process for details and a flexibility in the execution. Godrons and lines marry with perfection the curve of the piece.

Marks description

~ City mark of Paris – Fermier Général Jean-Jacques Prévost (1st October 1762 – 1st October 1768)
~ Control mark “Décharge” City of Paris
~ Date mark ‘Jurande’ – Letter B – standing for the years 1765/1766
~ Date mark ’Jurande ’ – Letter C – standing for the years 1766/1767
~ Master silversmith François-Thomas Germain

Movement description


François-Thomas Germain

Born in 1726, he becomes Master Silversmith in Paris in 1748 when succeeding his father Thomas Germain. At the age of 22, he inherits in the same year the title of Orfèvre et Sculpteur du Roi.
Residing in the Galeries du Louvre, he orders the stamping of two marks
a crowned fleur-de-lis, two dots, FTG
a crowned fleur-de-lis, two dots,
FTG, a fleece.
In 1750, he is at the head of his father’s shop, one of the most prestigious in Paris which already used to supply the high society of Europe. The first decade of François-Thomas Germain’s career are characterized by substantial orders e.g. from the Garde-meuble, Présents du Roi and the courts of Portugal and Russia. For Elizabeth of Russia, he executes the service de Paris of which some pieces are today in the collections of the Hermitage Museum. However the year 1760 is the beginning of his financial problems ending by his declared bankruptcy in 1765 for more than a million. This disaster is viewed as the greatest scandal of the 18th century. Nevertheless Louis XV is opposed to the abrogation of Germain’s title of sculpteur-orfèvre du Roi and allows him to continue his activities.
Germain’s studio was the most important of his time both due to its reputation and the number of his workers. Its organisation heralds the creation of the major studios of the 19th century including that of Biennais who employed up to 600 people or Jean-Baptiste Claude Odiot who was surrounded by draughtsmen and sculptors. François-Thomas Germain died in Paris in 1791, deprived and forgotten by all.

Material data

Height : 29,3 cm
Length : 19 cm
Weight : 1015 grams


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