Thomas Germain

Dates1673 - 1748, master 1720
RolesArtist, Maker

So famous was the workmanship of silversmith Thomas Germain in eighteenth-century France that the philosopher Voltaire immortalized his "divine hand" in a poem. Although Germain came from a family of silversmiths, he first studied painting. While still young he went to Rome, where he was apprenticed to a goldsmith. On his return to France, Germain was received into the guild as a master silversmith; three years later, in 1723, he was granted apartments in the Palais du Louvre and appointed as orfèvre du roi (silversmith to the king).

From then until the end of his life, Germain was employed in making silver and gold objects for Louis XV and the French royal family. Inventories show that Germain supplied the royal family with a few pieces every month: gold mustard pots, silver candlesticks, chamber pots, plates, and dishes. Every time a prince or princess was born, Germain made the child's rattle. He did not work exclusively for Louis XV but also produced toilette and dinner services for the king of Portugal, the princesses of Brazil, and the queen of Spain. On Germain's death in 1748, the king of France ordered a requiem mass to be sung for him.