Important Silversmiths – Christofle
The story of the firm began in 1830 when Charles Christofle (1805 - 1863) arrived in Paris from Lyons to join his brother-in-law’s jewellery firm.
When his brother-in-law died in 1837, Charles took over the business which became, within a few years, one of the most successful and popular silver brands of the last two centuries.
The turning point for the firm arrived in 1841 when, with the financial help of his sister Rosine Bouilhet, Charles bought from George and Richard Elkington the license to import and use in France their revolutionary electroplating system and started employing very skilled craftsmen and designers such as Mathurin Moreau (1821 - 1912) and Èmile Reibere (1826 - 1893). The first royal appointment arrived in 1844 when Louis Philippe ordered new tableware for his palaces. In 1855 Charles received from the Emperor Napoleon III the commission for a gold-plated dinner service for the Elysée Palace and a more than 1200 pieces service for the Tuileries palace.
Charles Christofle also promoted his business exhibiting at the International Fairs and gaining important commissions from abroad including the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire and the Emperor Maximilian of Mexico.
After Charles death in 1863, his sister’s son Henri Bouilhet took over the firm carrying on its success and further expanding the market. He was soon joined by his cousin Paul Christofle (1838-1907).
Christofle became an icon of luxe and elegance, receiving commissions from embassies, ministries, theatres and the most fashionable venues in Paris and France, such as the Ritz, the Meurice and the Orient-Express. Henri and Paul managed to keep up with the change in taste and trends, producing pieces in the Second Empire, Rococo Revival, Orientalist and Art Nouveau styles often designed by leading artists like Albert-Ernest Carriere-Belleuse (1824-1887) or Alphonse Mucha (1860-1939).
A moment of crisis arrived for the company during the first decades of the 20th Century and the years following the I World War until in 1932 Tony Bouilhet, Henri’s grandson joined the company. Marring Carla Borletti, daughter of an Italian industrialist, Tony managed to restore the company’s financial situation bringing the firm to new greatness. The firm is still active nowadays under the leadership of Maurizio Borletti, Carla’s son.