Puiforcat Still Serving Up Beauty After Nearly Two Centuries

"A work of art must in its modest sphere elevate the soul by its beauty." The exceptional French silversmith Jean Puiforcat expressed himself well with both words and silver. Nothing could be more humble, common, or modest than a fork, for instance, but in his capable hands it could become of exquisite beauty.

Puiforcat belonged to a family of skilled metalsmiths who opened up shop in Paris in 1820. As successful generations took over the business, they built on the family's fine reputation as craftsmen. When Louis Victor, Jean's father, entered the business, he embraced the French people's love of history, collecting 300 examples of old silverware to study and work from.

Many of Puiforcat's current designs reflect that love affair with historical silver. Elysee bears an elaborate lace scrollwork design etched into the handle of each piece. The Cardinal pattern has an earthier, more primitive ancestor-the 17th century hunting knife. Its curved knife blade, three tinned fork, and knobbed knife handle are simple and colonial in essence.

Jean Puiforcat began his amazing career in 1920 and his designs reflect the clean geometric elements of the Art Deco period. He was fascinated by line and contour and prided himself on contemporary pieces with precis detailing and, oddly enough, mathematical perfection. Today's patterns incorporated reproductions of his work. The Cannes is strictly Art Deco in design, for example. Other modern patterns that owe their origin to Jean Puiforcat are Nantes and Chantago. Simplicity and clean lines define all three patterns. The modern collection also includes place settings and servings pieces in white with red and gray trim created from Jean Puiforcat's 1930's geometric designs.

The choice of fine Puiforcat silverware can add beauty to any table. Silver has a natural beauty all its own, but in the hands of a master craftsman it is elevated to art.