The fork and spoon with scroll palmettes, the reverse with a bull's head and winged caryatid, all against a matted ground, and engraved with a coat-of-arms within drapery mantling, the knife with steel blade stamped au singe VIOLET, the handle with palmettes and female heads and a coat-of-arms, against a matted ground, each marked on handle, also with post-1838 control mark, in a fitted leather case with tooled monogram beneath a Princely crown and retailer's stamp BIENNAIS ORFÈVRE RUE ST. HONORÉ NO. 283 AU SINGE VIOLET À PARIS
838 in. (21.3 cm.) long, the fork
10 oz. (315 gr.), the fork and spoon
Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord (1754-1838), 1st Prince of Benvento, Prince of Talleyrand.
The C. Ruxton and Audrey B. Love Collection: Magnificent Silver-Gilt including Russian Works of Art and Objects of Vertu; Christie's, New York, 19 October 2004, lot 160.
New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, long term loan, 1958-2004 (L.58.30.C).
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Lot Essay

The engraved coat-of-arms are those of Talleyrand-Périgord.

Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord's (1754-1838) career as a French diplomat began under the rule of Louis XVI, survived the Revolution, and continued during the reigns of Napoleon I, Louis XVIII, and Louis-Philippe. Despite the rapidly changing political beliefs of the time, Talleyrand stayed loyal to his most important cause: the future of a strong and unified France. Although a foot injury as a child kept Talleyrand out of the military, he climbed the ranks of the religious order. As the Bishop of Autun he represented the First Estate, the Clergy, in the States-General of 1789.

Talleyrand supported the revolutionary cause and authored one of the twenty-two articles in the Declaration of the Rights of Man. For this bold step he was excommunicated from the Church, a decision that would later be overturned during Napoleon's reign.

Under Napoleon I, Talleyrand was appointed Grand Chamberlain and Vice-elector of the Empire. His supreme talent as the main French negotiator became evident at the Congress of Vienna when he negotiated a lenient treaty that allowed for France to return to her 1792 boundaries with no reparations.

In 1815, Napoleon's return to France marked a reversal of the treaty and this second agreement was far less lenient for France. Soon after this decision, Talleyrand resigned from many of his domestic duties and spent his final years as the French Ambassador to St. James's. Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord, Prince of Bénévent, was buried at the Château de Valençay on May 17, 1838.

A silver travelling teapot and tea caddy, also by Biennais, 1798-1809, and belonging to Talleyrand was sold Christie's, Paris, 17 November 2011, lot 39. A set of three silver toilet boxes by Biennais, 1798-1809, engraved with the arms of Talleyrand-Périgord were sold Leclere, Paris, 26 November 2018, lot 201.

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