Object number : 

Hallmark: BZ for 13-lot silver, Vienna 1781 (R3, no. 7856 with year 1781; Koeppe 2010, p. 91, fig. 61)

Maker’s mark: “IIW” in the vertical oval for Ignaz Joseph Würth (R3, no. 7957; Neuwirth, 2004, no. 1013; Koeppe 2010, p. 91, fig. 62)

Repuncture mark: “12 A” in a curved rectangle for large, older, already hallmarked silver works, Vienna mainly 1806/1807 (R3, no. 7875)

Service no. with indication of value: warming bell/cloche N: 4 M. 8.12.1.=.; Serving bowl N: 2 M. 2 15 2. 2

Silver, chased, cast, engraved

Length: 12″; Height: 8,7″; Weight: 3240g


Detailed Description

Detailed information

Between 1779 and 1782, Ignaz Joseph Würth created the ceremonial service for Duke Albert of Saxe-Teschen, one of the greatest creations of Viennese silver around 1780. Such a top-class object is rarely found on the art market. We are therefore very pleased to be able to present this new acquisition:

The ensemble consists of two parts: a rectangular, flat bowl with a matching cloche.

The flat bowl impresses with its classic, clear shape and the lack of excessive decorations: The raised, slightly curved edge of the bowl has multiple profiles with rounded corners. The only decorations are crossed ribbons in the middle and at the ends, which are reminiscent of fascia bundles and are also used on the plates and platters as one of the identifying features of the service. The goldsmith is modestly restrained in his design language in order to intensify the presentation of artistic dining arrangements.

The dome-shaped warming cloche shows characteristic features of courtly classicism. The lower end of the cloche is surrounded by a wavy meander pattern, also referred to as the “running dog”. The central recessed area of the cloche is structured by fluting, above it the goldsmith placed a narrow, stylized leaf frieze. The cupola, which tapers towards the top, is decorated with slender gadroons. A naturalistic looking still life composition serves as the knob. The goldsmith places two oranges of different sizes between finely hammered orange leaves, their veins are clearly visible. These exotic and expensive fruits were not easy to get in the local latitudes, they had to be transported far or planted in orangeries at great expense.

The present rectangular bowl was shown in the catalog of the exhibition “Vienna ca. 1780” on page 52, fig 43. It fits seamlessly into the series of “bowls with warming cloche” published by Wolfram Koeppe in the catalog of the 2010 Liechtenstein Museum exhibition. All bowls with lids shown have exactly the same decorative patterns and differ only in their basic shapes (round, triangular, rectangular) and different lid crowns.

In addition to oranges, fish, crayfish, oysters, vegetables, types of herbs and fruits such as grapes and oranges were used to crown the lids and warming bells of the Second Service of Duke Albert of Saxe-Teschen. Due to the detailed and naturalistic representation, not only cabbage, but also garden radishes and celery can be identified on the artistically worked cloches of the Viennese master.

 The Goldsmith Ignaz Joseph Würth (02/03/1743–08/17/1792)

The Viennese court goldsmith and silver jeweler Ignaz Joseph Würth was an important member of the Würth (Wirth) goldsmith dynasty, which was extremely active for more than 130 years and dominated and shaped the Viennese art of goldsmithing in the 18th century. He was the son of Johann Joseph Würth (active 1726–1767), whose master’s mark he continued to use until about 1780/81. There is evidence of his activity in Vienna between acquiring citizenship in 1769 and becoming a master in 1770 until his death in 1792. The drawings made in 1772/73 for the silver service George III were presumably made by him. By the end of the 1770s, Ignaz Joseph Würth was already well-known throughout Europe. He was extraordinarily productive but died in 1792 at the age of 49. After his death, his widow Theresa continued the company.

Ignaz Joseph Würth worked with various representatives of the Würth family on several occasions. In 1783/84 he and his cousin Ignaz Sebastian Würth designed new court silver for Emperor Joseph II from old stocks in the Imperial Silver Collection. In addition to the important silver service for Duke Albert of Saxe-Teschen, Ignaz Joseph Würth supposedly also created the mounts for porcelain vases, plates and candlesticks, which are now in the Liechtenstein Museum in Vienna. Extraordinarily talented and blessed with enormous craftsmanship, the goldsmith tried to combine the artistic tendencies of the family into an independent “Würth style”. Around 1780, Ignaz Joseph Würth played a key role in the development of a new Viennese design language that was to serve as a shining and innovative model for Europe. According to Wolfram Koeppe, curator in the Department of European Sculpture and Decorative Arts at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, he created “the most important artistic silver objects of Viennese classicism.”

The Peculiarity of the Design Language of Ignaz Joseph Würth

Ignaz Joseph Würth is a master of contrasts: he juxtaposes his finely crafted silver natural still lifes as the crowning of the lid with clear, neoclassical forms and decorations.

Cast lid crowns with naturalistic still life compositions, consisting of elaborately designed delicacies, can also be found in the Parisian goldsmith family Germain, who specialized in complex cast molding techniques. By using molds made from nature, these goldsmiths achieved enormous realism. Apparently, the family, whose representative François-Thomas Germain stayed in Vienna for a while, had a great influence on Ignaz Joseph Würth’s exceptional naturalistic silver compositions.

In terms of its design language, Würth was not only influenced by goldsmiths works of well-known artists in Vienna. As a court goldsmith Ignaz Joseph Würth also had access to the comprehensive collection of prints of Albert von Sachsen-Teschen, whose collection forms the basis for today’s Albertina in Vienna, and presumably had access to graphic sheets from the Vienna Academy.

Bowls with Cloches and their Use in the 18th Century

According to the surviving table plans from the 18th century, magnificent table services consisted of a large number of plates, extensive service pieces and bowls of varied shapes. These included warming bells, so-called cloches – which played a major role in the “Service à la francaise”. They had important functional purposes. Julius Bernhard von Rohr writes in 1733: “According to the latest style, the bowls are always covered with bells, partly so that the food underneath stays warm, but partly and primarily so that it does not get damaged by the falling poudre and other debris from those who put them on the table and becomes polluted and unappetizing”. Their function was to protect the elaborately prepared delicacies from contamination and nibbling small animals. Cloches are an integral part of ceremonial services during the 17th and 18th centuries.

The smaller bowls with warming bells were suitable for “relevés” and “entremets” – starters and intermediate courses or desserts – i.e. smaller portions of special culinary creations. These contained exotic and rare ingredients such as artichokes, truffles, cockscomb, crabs, freshwater crabs and of course rare fruits, which can also be found on the artistic lid arrangements.

The Second Sachsen-Teschen Service probably included 24 round and four triangular bowls with warming bells. Four rectangular bowls with cloches are documented. The bowl with warming bell with the numbers N: 2 and N: 4 is identical with that from the Sotheby’s Geneva auction, “Silver, Gold and Fabergé”, auction of November 18, 1996, Lot 78.

 The Magnificent Service of Duke Albert of Saxe-Teschen

Between 1779 and 1782 Ignaz Joseph Würth made the only Louis XVI silverware service that has survived to this day for Duke Albert Kasimir of Saxe-Teschen (1738–1822) and his wife Archduchess Marie Christine of Austria (1742–1798). As the favorite daughter of the Austrian Empress Maria Theresa, Archduchess Marie Christine was spared from her mother’s marriage policy. Although she was the 5th child of the Empress, she not only granted her a love marriage to Albert Kasimir of Saxony, the 13th child of Frederick Augustus II of Saxony and King of Poland. She also received an extraordinarily high dowry and, after the death of Emperor Franz I, the Duchy of Teschen (Austrian Silesia). Albert became Duke of Saxe-Teschen. His station enabled Albert to increase the family fortune, particularly through his entrepreneurial activities as a mine owner and metal entrepreneur, which enabled him to assemble and maintain an extraordinary art collection.

At Maria Theresa’s request, Marie Christine and Albert von Sachsen-Teschen were appointed joint governors of the Austrian Netherlands in Brussels from 1781 after Maria Theresias death in 1780 by Emperor Joseph II. Numerous parts of the extraordinarily magnificent silver service bear the hallmarks of the years 1779 and 1780, as well as the year 1781. According to Thieme-Becker, the service was financed on behalf of and with funds from Empress Maria Theresia and probably, as was customary at the time, as a gift of honor for special services (Albert’s mediation in the Peace of Teschen?). Obviously, it was an inaugural gift for Albert and Christine-Mary to honor their new position in the Austrian Netherlands.

Arriving in the Netherlands, Marie Christine of Austria and Albrecht of Sachsen-Teschen built the Schoonenberg Palace, today Château de Laeken, which not only served as a summer residence, but also housed the couple’s extensive art collection and representative ceremonial service. Today the Belgian royal family resides in the palace. The princely dining room, whose decorative furnishings harmonize with the ornamental forms of the service, is still used for state dinners.

Marie Christine and Albert did not stay long in Brussels. In 1789 the first unrest reached the city. In 1792 the couple finally had to flee from French troops. While fleeing, one of three ships loaded with precious belongings sank in a hurricane in the North Sea, the rest of the valuable possessions were transported from Hamburg to Vienna.

Surprisingly, a large part of the spectacular service not only survived the hasty flight from Brussels, but also the silver decrees of Emperor Franz II of 1793. Their aim was to fill the state treasury, which was dangerously empty due to the high costs of the war against France. In contrast to the Second Saxony-Teschen Service, the silver service created by Ignaz Joseph Würth and his cousin Ignaz Sebastian Würth in 1783/84 for Emperor Joseph II, was already melted down in 1793 during the Napoleonic Wars on the orders of Emperor Franz II, together with the entire holdings of the Imperial Silver Collection and the silver holdings of many important Viennese families.

Despite the high taxation of silver, after 1806, large parts of the Teschen Service were preserved. Many of the objects that still exist bear the Viennese tax hallmarks of 1806/1807, as does the present serving bowl with warming bell. Albert von Sachsen-Teschen was so fond of the magnificent silver service that he accepted the enormous taxes to preserve the precious service. Possibly his work as a mining contractor became convenient for him during these times.

In contrast to almost all other Viennese silver objects, the Teschen Service was not melted down and turned into coins but remained in the possession of the Habsburg family until the end of the monarchy. Albert von Sachsen-Teschen and Marie Christine had no children themselves, they bequested their property to their nephew and adopted son, Archduke Karl (1771–1847), Prince of Austria-Teschen. Then the service passed to Archduke Albrecht of Austria-Teschen (1817–1895) and finally to his nephew Archduke Friedrich von Teschen (1856–1936), who married Isabella Hedwig Princess of Croy-Dülmen (1856–1931) in 1878. In 1910 the rectangular bowl with cloche is mentioned by Edmund Wilhelm Braun as belonging to the service.

In May 1947, a large part of the service, as well as the silver bowl with cloche, was auctioned off at the large art auction: “Silverware from a Princely House” by the Fischer Gallery in Lucerne and scattered to the four winds – at least one thought – until a large number of most important service parts turned up in a Parisian private collection.

Only the exhibition “Vienna circa 1780” initiated by Wolfram Koeppe in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2010 and the exhibition “The magnificent service of the Duke of Saxony-Teschen” curated by Johann Kräftner in the Liechtenstein Museum Vienna in 2010/2011 showed the public after almost 100 years what a significant silver treasure it was – especially because almost no goldsmith’s work has survived from Vienna in the 18th century.

A lecture by Wolfram Koeppe entitled “Vienna Circa 1780: An Imperial Silver Service and Its European Significance” published by the Metropolitan Museum of Art on February 8, 2011, on the occasion of the exhibition gives a good idea of the significance of the service.

The size of the silver ceremonial service can be estimated relatively accurately based on the engraved inventory numbers. The service must have consisted of at least 534 parts. According to the weight indicated on the individual parts, more than 680 kg of silver were processed, plus the costs for the designs and the goldsmiths who carried out the work.

Ignaz Joseph Würth left a silver service of outstanding quality that was long considered lost: Johann Kräftner, Director of the Liechtenstein Museum Vienna, describes it as “by far the most artistically outstanding service, and as the only existing one from Vienna at this time also the best service from Paris at least equal.”

A service of Viennese classicism par excellence, for which Würth developed a completely new, characteristic design language based on French and Italian goldsmith art. The goldsmith artistically combined naturalistic-looking, vegetal forms with clear, classical ornaments. The service for Albrecht von Sachsen-Teschen was created around 1780 when Viennese art and culture was of the greatest importance and the sophistication and elegance of Viennese art became a model for all of Europe.


Braun, Edmund Wilhelm: Das Tafelsilber des Herzogs Albert von Sachsen-Teschen: Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte der Wiener Goldschmiedekunst in der Louis Seize-Zeit, Vienna 1910

Koeppe, Wolfram: Vienna circa 1780, An Imperial Silver Service Rediscovered, exhibition cat. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, April 13, 2010–7. Nov. 2010, New Haven and London 2010, pp. 49–52 (Dishes with Cloche, therein p. 52, fig. 43 (image of the rectangular bowl), there p. 20 quote: “Ignaz Joseph Würth was the creator of the most important artistic silver objects of Viennese classicism.”

Kräftner Johann, ed.: Das Prunkservice des Herzogs Albert von Sachsen-Teschen, Ein Triumph Europäischer Silberschmiedekunst, Ausst.-Kat. Liechtenstein Museum, exhibition cat. Liechtenstein Museum, December 3, 2010–26. April 2011, Vienna 2010

Kräftner Johann: Das Umfeld, Die Beziehungen zwischen Herzog Albert von Sachsen-Teschen und Fürst Franz Josef I. von Liechtenstein, in: Kräftner Johann, exhib. cat. Liechtenstein Museum, Vienna 2010 (pp.114–121, esp. p. 115)

Koeppe, Wolfram: Der Aufstieg Wiens zum kulturellen Zentrum, in: Kräftner Johann, Ausst.-Kat. Liechtenstein Museum, Vienna 2010 (pp. 30–53, on Ignaz Joseph Würth, esp. pp. 31–33, on the signature “Ignatz Joseph Würth” see p. 33, fig. 20)

Koeppe, Wolfram: Das Zweite Sachsen-Teschen-Service, Eine Wiederentdeckung, in: Kräftner Johann, Ausst.-Kat. Liechtenstein Museum, Vienna 2010, pp. 54–113 (p. 54, fig. 48, p. 55, pp. 66–69, on the Vienna inspection mark of 1781 and on the master’s mark of Ignaz Joseph Würth, pp. 104–105, as well as on p. 110, where the rectangular bowl with cloche with the N:2 and N:4 is mentioned in footnote 175)

Neuwirth, Waltraud: Wiener Silber, Punzierung 1524–1780, Vienna 2004, p. 327, stamp “Ignaz Joseph Wirth” (Würth) (see also signature of Ignatz Joseph Würth)

Vollmer, Hans: Thieme/Becker: Allgemeines Lexikon der Bildenden Künstler von der Antike bis zur Gegenwart, Volume 36, Leipzig 1999, p. 296 on Würth (Wirth), Ignaz Joseph


Online Resources:

Koeppe, Wolfram: “Vienna Circa 1780: An Imperial Silver Service and Its European Significance”, February 8, 2011. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fw0n7V7tctQ

Rosenberg Marc: Der Goldschmiede Merkzeichen R3, IV. Band, Ausland und Byzanz, Frankfurt am Main/Berlin 1928, p. 433, no. 7856, (inspection) official mark for 13-lot silver, Vienna 1737, with small deviations until 1806; p. 435, no. 7875, repunching stamp; p. 444, no. 7957 (MZ Ignaz Josef Würth). https://doi.org/10.11588/diglit.8487#0476

Rohr Julius Bernhard von: Einleitung zur Ceremoniel-Wissenschafft Der großen Herren, Die in vier besondern Theilen Die meisten Ceremoniel-Handlungen / so die Europäischen Puissancen überhaupt/ und die Teutschen Landes-Fürsten insonderheit, so wohl in ihren Häusern, in Ansehung ihrer selbst, ihrer Familie und Bedienten, als auch gegen ihre Mit-Regenten, und gegen ihre Unterthanen bey Krieges- und Friedens-Zeiten zu beobachten pflegen, 1. Theil VIII. Capitul, Berlin 1733, pp. 90-91. https://opendata.uni-halle.de/explore?bitstream_id=42d3fef1-8a60-4662-ac91-dda4e0d3b49a&handle=1981185920/97268&provider=iiif-image