Champlevé, noun

Champleve 2

The word champlevé is French in origin – no surprise there – and is an enameling technique, where the design is cut into the surface of the metal. The engraved grooves are then filled with enamel prior to being fired to a glassy sheen and polished. The beautiful pieces you see pictured here are French gilt-bronze-mounted champlevé enamel and porcelain vases. They attracted great pre-sale interest at Bonhams’ Elegant Home Auction, held February 27th and 28th in Los Angeles, before finally selling to a determined bidder for an impressive $31,250.

The sale featured property from the collection of Staffa and Margareta Encrantz from Atherton, California, highlighted by a wonderful mix of English and Continental furniture, objects and carpets. The standout piece of the collection was a magnificent German Baroque walnut secretary, likely one of a group of bookcases that were made for the Saxon Royal Family during the first half of the 18th century; it achieved $45,000. Back to champlevé: it first appeared around 1860-1865, and  is the past participle of the verb champlever (to take out a flat part).