SOLD - An Important Victorian Antique English Silver Plaque with Damascened Iron Frame
Width excluding wood frame: 23"
The rectangular silver plaque chased with the trial scene from The Merchant of Venice, the shaped rectangular iron frame embossed at each corner with dramatic masks and musical trophies, each side applied with an embossed silver plaque, two depicting the sword and scales of Justice, above a plaque with two putti holding a laurel wreath over a medallion of Shakespeare, below a Plaque embossed THE MERCHANT OF VENICE, the frame with gold and silver damascened beaded, floral strapwork and dentilated borders, with conforming oak frame, the plaque signed Morel-Ladeuil fecit 1885, RM Elkington & Co.; together with a manuscript certificate acknowledging the plaque as the original work of M. Morel-Ladeuil.
Royal Academy, London, 1885
Union des Arts Decoratifs, Paris, 1889
L'Oeuvre de Morel-Ladeuil Sculpteur-Ciseleur 1820-1888, 1904, illus. Pl. IX
The certificate reads: "We certify that this Placque, subject, the trial scene from "The Merchant of Venice", executed entirely by hand in repoussé iron and silver, by M. Morel-Ladeuil one of the principal artists to Elkington & Co. Ld in the year 1885 is the original work. Elkington & Co. Ld. W. B. Read, Secretary".
Leonard Morel-Ladeuil (1820-1888) was one of the foremost metalwork artists of the 19th century, and this plaque represents one of his finest works at the close of an illustrious career. Morel-Ladeuil studied chasing and damascening from the master chaser, Antoine Vechte and learned sculptural techniques from J. Feucheres. In 1859 he moved to England, where he worked for Elkington & Co. for nearly 30 years. Morel-Ladeuil excelled at figural repoussé work, and his commissions for international exhibitions enhanced his reputation and were integral to raising the profile of Elkington & Co. He received considerable acclaim during his own lifetime, and was awarded the Legion of Honor in 1878. Yet, it was not until a year after his death that Morel-Ladeuil's work was the subject of a retrospective at the Union des Arts Decoratifs, and later, a monograph entitled L'Oeuvre de Morel-Ladeuil Sculpteur-Ciseleur 1820-1888.
Toward the end of his career in England, Morel-Ladeuil created an important series of plaques, taking the works of Shakespeare as inspiration. The first, entitled The Merry Wives of Windsor was commissioned, circa 1880, by Sir Albert Sassoon as a wedding present for the Duke of Albany, a pun on the marriage of the Queen's son, then living at Windsor. The current plaque and another, entitled Much Ado about Nothing, likely were inspired by the celebrated Shakespearean productions starring Henry Irving and Miss Ellen Terry. In keeping with the esteem in which Morel-Ladeuil's work was regarded, these plaques were exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1885, and the 1889 retrospective of Morel-Ladeuil's work. While a number of Morel-Ladeuil's plaques served as models for mass-produced electrotype reproductions, both plaques are highly significant as they are the original work of art, remaining with Elkington & Co. until the firm was liquidated in 1973. The companion plaque, Much Ado about Nothing, is now in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.