Marked by Jean–Baptiste–François Chéret (French, master in 1759)
Silver; H. 12 15/16 in. (32.9 cm)
Gift of Mrs. Charles Wrightsman, 1980 (1980.79)
The draped garlands below the rim, the scrolling bands of arabesques in the middle, and the water leaves above the foot of this ewer are standard Neoclassical motifs typically found on late eighteenth-century French silver. The unexpected feature of the ewer, however, is the handle in the form of Narcissus emerging from a pedestal. The half bust of Narcissus is placed so that he leans forward, gazing down at the undecorated but highly reflective surface of the hinged cover. The three-dimensional representation of the Narcissus story, very cleverly conceived, distinguishes this ewer as an exceptional example of French silver of the late eighteenth century.
The ewer would have been accompanied originally by a basin, and both would have been used for washing as part of the daily ritual and grooming known in France as la toilette.