Eighteenth-century European court society was famous for its lavish banquets featuring elaborate settings and protocols designed to indicate the status of both host and guests. Integral to these events were extravagant dining services of silver and gold, many of which were subsequently melted down to finance the frequent wars of the period. This book presents a rare surviving imperial service, made from about 1779 to 1782 for Duke Albert of Sachsen-Teschen by Austrian master Ignaz Joseph Würth. The so-called Second Sachsen-Teschen Service comprised hundreds of items, including wine coolers, tureens, cloches, sauceboats, candelabra, candlesticks, and serving implements, as well as twenty-four dozen silver plates and porcelain-mounted silver and silver-gilt cutlery.
Once believed lost, the ensemble has been partially reunited here and placed in the context of contemporary silver from other European cities. Representing court dining at its most splendid, the service melds the reigning French Neoclassical style with purely Viennese elements—such as a vigorous design, a sparkling play of textures, and the juxtaposition of classical elements with whimsical sculptural details—and reveals Vienna as a major center of the Neoclassical goldsmith’s art.