Silver

The demand for table silverware grew in the Rococo period because silver was no longer only used for displaying in a glass cabinet or on the table to show the owner's status and power. Rather, it began to be used for serving food. Neoclassical and Empire silver was inspired by Antiquity and classical decoration. The forms are completely pure with elongated, elegant outlines and high curving handles. They are decorated with relatively little adornment, mostly executed in the form of stylized decorative borders. Besides silver, ormolu or gilded bronze was a basic Empire period material, and finest examples are certainly of French provenance. Gilded or patinated bronze candelabra with caryatides holding the upper branches are characteristic and pure examples of this style dating to approximately 1800.

There is today relatively little Austrian Rococo and Neoclassical silver, especially from the Napoleonic period, because the Hapsburg Monarchy introduced many additional taxes and other contributions in the first half of the nineteenth century, both on the sale of silver and on that either privately or church owned. Although these restrictive measures were gradually relaxed, they adversely affected silver and gold production and trade at the beginning of the century, leading to a decrease in the number of workshops and difficult conditions in the craft as a whole. In this period Vienna remained a center of silver production of the highest quality in workmanship and design, but gradually silver production in smaller centers caught up. This was because the government decided to organize Drawing Schools throughout the entire Monarchy, in which apprentices in all the crafts had to attend.

Much of the metalwork in the Marton Collection belongs to the Biedermeier period, although a small number of pieces date from the eighteenth century Rococo and Neoclassical periods.