Silverplated dish, 1860s

Commissioned by Emperor Maximilian I of Mexico

Description

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This silverplated dish, featuring an engraving of Emperor Maximilian’s monogram, was made by Christofle of France as part of an extensive table service of 4,938 pieces commissioned by the recently-appointed Mexican emperor for his imperial household. It is made of nickel silver, a copper alloy with nickel and zinc, whose high nickel content provides a silvery appearance without yellowing over time.

Engraved is the monogram MIM —for Maximilian Imperator Mehicorum— crowned by the newly-designed imperial crown of Mexico. It was one of two monogram designs utilized in this commission, the other being a crowned M decorated with organic motifs. The service consisted of existing Christofle models which were engraved with the emperor’s monogram. The immensity of the service —four times larger than Napoleon III’s— demonstrated Maximilian’s lofty ambitions to cultivate a sophisticated and splendorous imperial culture in his new realm.

Founded in 1830, Christofle owned the French rights to the latest electroplating patents, using them to create a silversmithing manufactory that shrewdly integrated advanced technology with traditional crafts. They employed renowned designers and sculptors, and participated in the main World Exhibitions of the day, obtaining prestigious awards. In 1855, Christofle became a Fournisseur de l’Empereur (official purveyor) to Emperor Napoleon III of France, of whom Maximilian’s Mexico was a client state.

After the fall of the Empire, the Castle of Chapultepec was sacked and the majority of pieces were dispersed. Today, items from Maximilian’s Christofle tableware are exhibited primarily in Mexican and Austrian museums.

Medium & Techniques

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Silver-plated nickel silver with engraving

Measurements

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To come

Provenance

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  • Acquired from Jonathan Lister of King's China (United Kingdom) 
  • Acquired in the United States