EUGÈNE EMMANUEL VIOLLET - LE - DUC (Paris 1814 - 1879 Lausanne), with

LOUIS BACHELET (active Paris 1851 - 1867)


Vermeil, with gilded bronze foot Semi-precious stones including
jasper, chrysoprase, moonstone, agate, opal, garnet, citrine, amethyst, and turquoise
Height: 13 ¼ inches (33.65 cm)
Base: 7 ¼ inches (18.42 cm) 1852

Louis Bachelet
Thence by descent
Placide-Benoît-Marie Poussielgue-Rusand

Universal Exhibition, Paris, 1900

Preparatory Drawings:
Médiathèque de l’architecture et du patrimoine, inv. nos. PM043300 and PM043301

Supporting Literature:
M. Viollet-le-Duc fils, with the collaboration of M. Corroyer, Gazette des architectes et du bâtiment, Paris, 1863, p. 324-326, figs. 383-387

Viollet-le-Duc designed this ciborium in 1852. The stem, with two rows of four semi-precious cabochons separated by a beaded ring, is attached to an orb-shaped foot. An acanthus-leaf wreath supports the cup and rests atop a flattened, ornamented sphere. The foot, sides of the cup and rim of the lid feature chased foliage decoration. Twelve semi-precious stones are affixed to the stem and represent Heavenly Jerusalem’s twelve foundation stones, on which were inscribed the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

Two preparatory drawings for our ciborium (ciboire) are in the collection of the Médiathèque de l’Architecture et du Patrimoine. The first, dated 4 February (PM043300), is entitled Holy Ciborium in Copper and Silver. It is a grandly executed partial elevation in red ink illustrating the profile; there is also a study of the cup’s gallery ornamented with a foliated frieze and chased floral motifs decorating the foot. The second, dated 29 August 1852 (PM043301), is a completed, half-scale elevation drawing of the final project in watercolor and graphite with a detailed view of the chasing on the foot.

The ciborium is noteworthy not only because of its aesthetic qualities and precious character, but also because it belongs to Viollet-le-Duc’s series of ideal furniture and is a companion piece to his reliquary chasse that was in the Universal Exhibition in Paris in 1889. The architect’s son considered this ciborium, like the reliquary, to be the most representative of his father’s artistic style. He published a short article about it in the Gazette des architectes et du bâtiment, accompanied by a plate engraved by Edouard Corroyer based on the two drawings in the Médiathèque de l’Architecture et du Patrimoine (cross-section, completed project, detail of the foot).

“The ciborium (fig. 383 and 384) is enriched by chased and repoussé rows of foliage; the rosettes on the foot are stamped and their ornamentation in drawn chasing (see details, fig. 385 to 387). […] It was made by Mr. Bachelet, goldsmith, after drawings by Mr. Viollet-le-Duc, architect.”

The stamps on the cup (Minerva and a diamond-shaped goldsmith’s stamp) and on the underside of the foot (square for the gold electroplating) indicate that Bachelet produced this object, which was then purchased from the heirs of Bachelet by Placide-Benoît-Marie Poussielgue-Rusand in the 1880s.

According to the Palissy database, no other model of this type exists in France or abroad. This ciborium was purchased from a religious congregation in western France.