La Machine d'Argent or Centerpiece for a Table (surtout de table)
Take a close look at the artwork shown here. What do you think it is?

It's a sculpture that was made 250 years ago to decorate the table of a wealthy nobleman. It includes a rabbit, small birds, a piece of cauliflower, an onion, a turnip, and even a mushroom. These foods were often included in a special stew enjoyed at that time. The owner probably used the sculpture to decorate his table when he served the stew to guests.

Do you think it would be interesting to use items from your dinner menu as a centerpiece for the table? What if the centerpiece were made out of silver or gold?

This sculpture was made by a French goldsmith named François-Thomas Germain. He learned how to become a goldsmith from his father.

Goldsmiths use silver, gold, and bronze to make fancy objects, including dishes, candlesticks, and small sculptures like this. It took a great deal of time for the goldsmiths to make these objects. This one took seven months to finish.

In his workshop, Germain made molds from actual vegetables and animals, and then used these molds to make his artwork. This process resulted in sculpted objects that look almost like the real thing. Notice how soft the rabbit's fur looks and how bumpy the cauliflower seems. Even though this artwork is small, it's very heavy. It weighs 11 1/2 pounds—as much as a bowling ball! That's because Germain made it entirely of silver.

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