Autumn 1955: Parisian high society was holding its breath as master auctioneer Étienne Ader prepared to break up one of the most celebrated collections of silverwork in France. An extraordinary collection indeed: Louis-Victor Puiforcat, one of the House's leading figures, indulged a lifelong historical passion for the arts of the table, collecting hundreds of items dating from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries: a gilded silver eggcup from 1715; a golden beaker said to have touched the lips of Queen Anne of Austria; a silver-plated copper tureen, highly fashionable in the 18th century for presenting meat dishes with sauce, etc.. In all, 373 exceptional lots were about to be sold at auction.
A dramatic turn of events came about on November 30, 1955: the press announced the cancellation of the sale, elucidating the gratifying grounds a few days later. Famous shipowner and Louvre benefactor Stavros Niarchos had acquired the entire collection with the intention of donating it to the world's greatest museum. This was a godsend for the Objets d'Art Department at the Louvre. The museum's silverwork collection, hardly worthy of the institution before this gift, at once become truly exceptional.
Louis-Victor Puiforcat's parisian office showing his collection
Indeed, Louis-Victor Puiforcat chose his pieces with such an exacting and aesthetic eye, attentive to ample shapes, balanced ornamentation and refined execution, that curators see his collection as unparalleled in quality. Even today, silversmiths at the House of Puiforcat regularly visit the Objets d'Art Department at the Louvre, as well as its storerooms, to recreate the finest pieces: Louis-Victor Puiforcat's collection may be in a museum, but it remains very much alive.