Silversmith to King Louis XV, Thomas Germain stands out among his contemporaries for the originality and quality of his exuberant rococo silver. His work exemplifies the earliest and most imaginative phase of the rococo style, marked by an abundance of extravagant curves and fantastic ornament. One of his masterpieces, this tureen is part of a large dinner service ordered by Louis-Alexandre de Bourbon, comte de Toulouse (1678–1737) from 1727, and financed by his son, the duc de Penthièvre (1725–93). Called the "Boars' Head Tureen" after the animals' heads and forelegs at either end, this tureen is modeled with three-dimensional vegetables, crustaceans, and game, all cast from life for extraordinary naturalism. Surviving nearly complete, the service provides a rare glimpse into the splendor of the dining tables of the French court during the first half of the eighteenth century.
Artist Thomas Germain, French, 1673-1748
  • Tureen with Lid, Liner, and Stand
Date 1733 or 1734
Medium silver
Dimensions Overall: 10 × 21 1/2 × 16 1/4 inches (25.4 × 54.6 × 41.3 cm)
Credit Line Founders Society Purchase, Elizabeth Parke Firestone Collection of Early French Silver Fund
Accession Number 59.18
Department European Sculpture and Dec Arts
On View Fashionable Living: S330.1, Level 3 (see map)
Marks Marks: three marks, including the number 298
Inscriptions Inscribed, on the sides of the tureen and on the platter and engraved on liner with the coat of arms of Louis-Philippe, Duc d'Orleans (added ca. 1821-1830). On one side of the tureen is a silver patch over an earlier, engraved coat of arms--probably that of the Duc de Penthievre, a previous owner of the tureen.
probably commissioned by Henry Janssen (Paris, France).
probably Louis-Charles de Bourbon, Comte d'Eu;
his cousin, Louis-Jean-Marie de Bourbon, Duc de Penthièvre;
his daughter Louise-Marie Adélaïde de Bourbon-Penthièvre, who in 1769 married Louis-Philippe-Joseph, Duc d'Orléans,known as Philippe Egalité;
their son, Louis-Philippe, Duc d'Orléans (later King of the French).
probably to his son, Louis, Duc de Nemours.
probably to his son, Ferdinand, Duc d'Alençon;
his son, Philippe-Emmanuel, Duc de Vendôme;
his son, Charles, Duc de Nemours.
1930s, dealer, Jacques Helft (Paris, France & Buenos Aires, Argentina);
1959-present, purchase by the Detroit Institute of Arts (Detroit, Michigan, USA)
Three Centuries of French Domestic Silver. New York, 1938, p. 14 and fig. 65.

Detroit Institute of Arts Handbook, 1971, p. 128

Connaissance des Arts. June 15, 1953, p. 33.

Helft, Jacques. French Master Goldsmiths and Silversmiths. 1966, pp. 121-122.

Allen, Armin, B., ed. An Exhibition of Ornamental Drawings, 1520-1920. New York, no. 53.

Wilson, Gillian. Selections from the Decorative Arts in the J. Paul Getty Museum. Malibu, 1983, pp. 22-23.

Detroit Institute of Arts, Treasures From The Detroit Institute Of Arts, p. 200, (ill.).

J. Helft, "French Eighteenth-Century Silver." Apollo 87, no. 72 (February 1968): 108, fig. 4 (ill.).

Versailles et les Tables Royales en Europe: XVIIeme-XIXeme Siecles. Exh. cat., Musee National des Chateaux de Versailles et de Trianon. Paris, 1993, pp. 135-139, 275-280.

C. Le Corbeiller. "Robert-Joseph Auguste, Silversmith--and Sculptor?" Metropolitan Museum Journal 31 (1996): 211, 216, fig. 10.

Royal French Silver. The Property of George Ortiz. Sales cat., Sotheby's, November 13, 1996, p. 61 (under lot 3, with an incorrect accession number).

Albainy, T."Eighteenth-Century French Silver in the Elizabeth Parke Firestone Collection." Bulletin of the DIA 73, no. 1/2 (1999): 10-12, 21; p. 12, fig. 3 (ill.).

Cassidy-Geiger, M. "Ein neues silbern Französisches Tafel Service: Linking the Penthièvre-Orléans service to Dresden," Silver Studies (2007): 123-134, 18 (color repr.).

von Bothmer, W. and M. Köhler. Im Auftrag der Krone. Rostock, 2011, pp. 55-61.

Solodkoff, Alexander von. “The Rediscovery of a 1754 ‘Machine d’Argent’ by François-Thomas Germain.” Studies in the Decorative Arts 13, no. 2 (2006): pp. 100–101, figs. 8–9.

Perrin, Christiane. François Thomas Germain, orfèvre des rois. Saint-Remy-en-L’eau, 1993, pp. 58–59 (ill.).