ARTIST / MAKER: Jean-Pierre-Nicolas Bibron (maker)
DATE: 1798-1809 (made)
PLACE: Paris (made)
MATERIALS AND TECHNIQUES: Cast silver with carved wood

The neo-classical style, seen as reflective of the imperial ambitions of the Napoleonic dynasty, was popular under the French Empire, creating a style that idealised antiquity and incorporated heavy ornamentation and design. Napoleon’s excursion to Egypt in 1798 triggered a revival of interest in the art, architecture and culture of ancient Egypt in Europe, a craze known as ‘Egyptomania’. This was popularised by the publication of books such as Vivant Denon’s Voyage dans la Basse et la Haute Egypte, that became available in England and France in 1802. Denon’s Voyage contained accurate representations of Egyptian buildings and their decoration and became an important source for European designers and craftsmen who incorporated Egyptian motifs into their work.

Jean-Pierre-Nicolas Bibron was a Parisian based goldsmith, established as a master silversmith in 1797. Noted for his high level of skill, his pieces often followed the neo-classical style favoured by the empire, such as in this example with the double faced Egyptian head as the finial, keeling putto forming the spout, and decorative engraving of garlands and anthemion leaves.