Ondine

Purchased by the King Baudouin Foundation in 2003, the Ondine table centrepiece is a remarkable masterpiece. Although this piece of solid silver is anachronistic in functional and stylistic terms, it is nevertheless highly representative of the period in which it was created, a complex age that was full of contradictions.

Ondine can be considered as one of the last material testimonies to an age in which aspirations to prestige, grandeur and etiquette that were typical of the pre-World War II period were taking their dying breaths. The work was commissioned from Wolfers Frères, the leading silverware company in Belgium for more than half a century. Ondine was made to decorate the table of honour at the Belvedere, the 18th century château where the Commissariat Général of the 1958 Exposition Universelle de Bruxelles was housed, and where a number of luxurious dinners, lunches and outdoor receptions were held, to which various VIPs were invited. The work not only recalls the World Fair itself, but also the history of the Wolfer Frères company and the development of silverware during the 20th century.

The table centrepiece, a veritable fountain of silver and silver-gilt, represents a waterfall with three basins, into which dolphins spout out water and above which is a bronze naiad, pirouetting on a polished shell. Mirrors evoke the reflections of water and reflect the light from electric light bulbs fitted below two bowls in the middle of the sculpture.

Website DIVA – Museum of Silverwork, Jewellery and Diamonds, Antwerp
Further information about the Heritage Fund (in French)

Type: 
Table centrepiece
Material / technique: 
Silver, silver gilt and bronze
Dimensions: 
49 x 90 x 40 cms
Type of acquisition: 
Heritage Fund Acquisition
Year of acquisition: 
2003
Depository institution: 
DIVA – Museum of Silverwork, Jewellery and Diamonds, Antwerp