CANVASES, CARATS AND CURIOSITIES

At the Center of it All: Centerpieces to Elevate Any Table

Holiday Table Table setting for formal and informal occasions is a longstanding tradition that continues to be practiced in the modern day. Perhaps you roll out formal dining table decorations, such as Thanksgiving or Christmas decor to create a beautiful holiday table for your family. Or, maybe you have a knack for entertaining in your dining room year-round. Regardless of the occasion, you can’t go wrong with silver centerpieces for dining table decor. If you want to spruce up your dining room even more, you may consider purchasing antique chairs to sit in around your dining table.

 

Centerpieces act as the focal point of any elegant table decoration in home decor. The convention dates back centuries, but naturally, centerpieces became increasingly elaborate and ornate over time. Whether used more functionally to hold condiments, candies, flower arrangements, or taper candles or strictly used decoratively to demonstrate fine taste, a table centerpiece is designed to make a statement. And we are partial to dining room table centerpieces of exceptional quality! You can choose from a variety of table centerpieces like a candle, candle holder, vase, or other ornaments. Read on to learn more about different styles of centerpieces in the realm of decorative objects to include in your next tablescape.

George II Silver Epergne by Thomas Gilpin

George II Silver Epergne by Thomas Gilpin

Épergnes

When taking a look at centerpieces, it is essential to start with the épergne. Pronounced "a-PERN," épergne s are centerpieces most commonly made of silver or silverplate with a functional design. They feature a raised central bowl with decorative arms extending outwards to support additional, smaller baskets or bowls. The bowls are typically lined with glass to make them even more functional and to protect the silver. You'll even occasionally find glass inserts in the color of cobalt blue or cranberry red. Timeless by nature, épergnes were a true test of a silversmith's talents. The elaborate objects began appearing in European homes as early as the 17th century and are believed to have evolved from nefs , surtout de tables, and silver salts. In fact, they represent a marriage of these pieces into a single, elegant and practical design. The French aristocracy took a liking to the épergne, which then infiltrated English society in the early 18th century. Now, you may find some of them as antiques for sale to elevate the elegance in one’s home.George III Silver Epergne George III Silver Epergne. Hallmarked 1766. When imagining épergnes in English homes in the 18th century, I picture them decorated with highly sought-after pineapples. A fascinating historical tidbit — pineapples were a rare and exotic status symbol amongst the English aristocracy. Imported from the New World, and thus exceedingly difficult to get one’s hands on, it wasn’t uncommon for pineapples to be rented by the day or half day for entertaining purposes before ultimately being sold to an affluent buyer. Whether used for eating or simply decor, pineapples were primarily displayed in an épergne at a table’s center, often clustered among a variety of fruit. The épergne pictured above is hallmarked 1766 and was made by London silversmiths John Lawford and William Vincent. Decorated with fruit and vine elements, the central basket is topped by two playful cherubs. Measuring 18 1/4" across, this piece functions alone at a smaller dining table or plays well with candlesticks and additional decorative pieces at a larger table. Ormolu and Cut Glass Table Garniture by Baccarat
Ormolu and Cut Glass Table Garniture by Baccarat. Circa 1875

Garniture Sets

This circa 1875 French garniture by Baccarat consists of five pieces intended to be showcased together on a dining table. Consisting of a surtout de table (the center of the centerpiece), two tazze, and two candlesticks, all five pieces demonstrate the glam of the best quality ormolu (gilt bronze) and cut glass. Similar to the épergne, the garniture set would be utilized to display sweets, condiments, candles, and floral blooms or arrangements consisting of greenery, pinecones, and more. Oftentimes garniture s like these would be set upon a large mirrored plateau that runs down the center of the table, which served to amplify its decorative impact. Although a surtout de table refers to any ornate centerpiece, today they evoke an image of a multi-piece set on top of such a plateau. These sets are frequently seen on display in historic house museums of the aristocracy.

Moser Punch Bowl Set

Moser Punch Bowl Set. Circa 1880

Punch Bowls

 

A punch bowl at this scale (the platter measures 16 1/8" in diameter) is a stunning centerpiece and deserves to be the center of attention. Created by the Bavarian firm Moser, known as the "Glass of Kings," the intricate gilded enamel decorations sit on top of the beautiful ruby glass. The only thing better than looking at this masterpiece of glass is drinking from it with seven of your closest friends!

German Silver Candelabra by Bruckmann & Söhne

German Silver Candelabra by Bruckmann & Söhne

Candlesticks and Candelabra

 

Candlesticks are wonderful because they are so versatile. They work well as centerpieces but can also be used throughout the home. They take up less space than many centerpieces, making them especially practical when entertaining in a smaller space. Multi-light candlesticks, or candelabra create extra drama, but single candlesticks still elevate the ambiance of a room, whether you're entertaining or simply having a nice meal at home. The candelabras above were crafted by Bruckmann & Söhne, one of the oldest and most esteemed silver firms in Germany. Their Neoclassical form is distinguished by elegant repoussé fluting that is accented by garlands and swags of drapery. Bruckmann & Söhne are famed for their superior silver workmanship with an oeuvre that spans from the decadent Rococo to the timeless refinement of the Neoclassical. The silver firm garnered many awards and recognition at the great international exhibitions of the 19th century, including the 1873 Vienna Exhibition, the Nuremberg Exhibition of 1885, the 1896 Stuttgart Exhibition, and the iconic Paris Exhibition Universelle of 1900.

The Rundell, Bridge & Rundell Regency Centerpiece and Plateau

A paragon of Regency splendor, the crafting of this rare and incredible candelabrum centerpiece and plateau is attributed to London silversmith and sculptor Philip Cornman for Rundell, Bridge & Rundell after a design by architect Charles Heathcote Tatham. A motif originally created in 1801 for Tatham's major patron, the 5th Earl of Carlisle, these resplendent bronze and brass ormolu creations illustrate both artisan's propensity toward grand sculptural masterworks inspired by antiquity. And the centerpieces appearance only improves when candle light reflects off of the mirrored plateau.
 

Interested in learning more about historic items for the table? Read about antique Tiffany flatware patterns for decor ideas on how you can add more detail to your dining table decor. 

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