Pierre Philippe Thomire
Pierre Philippe Thomire (1751-1843) was the son of the Parisian decorative sculptor Luc Philippe Thomire and a member of a family which produced many notable sculptors, carvers and bronze founders. Although trained as a sculptor, Pierre-Philippe Thomire decided to follow his father into the potentially more lucrative profession of a bronze caster.
He was the most prominent bronzier, or producer of ornamental patinated and gilt-bronze objects and furniture mounts of the First French Empire. His fashionable neoclassical and Empire style bronzes established the highest standard in refined finish in the craft that the French called that of the fondeur-ciseleur.
Thomire studied under Houdon and Paju at the Académie de St. Luc, and then went on to receive further training in the workshop of Pierre Gouthière, the outstanding Parisian ciseleur-doreur.
In 1776 he established his own business and he gradually assumed the leading position of his former master. In 1783 84 he received his first notable commission, casting and finishing the gilt-bronze handles modelled by Boizot for a pair of Sèvres porcelain vases, today divided between the Musée du Louvre and Palazzo Pitti. He also received a commission for the execution of the cradle for the King of Rome, which was designed by Pierre Paul Prud'hon and for which Thomire collaborated with the Imperial silversmith Odiot.
Thomire's big break had come when he began assisting Jean-Claude-Thomas Duplessis, the artistic director of the Sèvres Porcelain Manufactory, in making mounts. When Duplessis died in 1783, Thomire took over his job, supplying all the gilt bronze mounts for the porcelain. One of his first important commissions was to sculpt the bronze decoration on the state coach of King Louis XVI (1775).
He exhibited at the 1806 Exposition Publique des Produits de l'Industrie in Paris, the first time a bronzier was permitted among the exhibiters, and was awarded a gold medal for his bronze and malachite sculptures.
In 1809 the Emperor Napoleon made him ciseleur de l'empereur (Engraver to the Emperor); because of the large number of pieces Thomire supplied to the palaces, his firm became fournisseur de leurs majestés (Furniture Suppliers to their Majesties) two years later.
He produced many bronzes in the heroic idiom during the Napoleonic era, remaining in favour after the restoration of the Bourbons to sculpt a magnificent surtout (table decoration) for Louis XVIII in 1823.