This silver statuette, mounted on the shaft of a column base, depicts Ceres, the goddess of the harvest and agriculture. Standing on a tied-up bale of cotton, wearing a wreath of ears of wheat on her head, she holds a sheaf of wheat in her left hand and a caduceus, the symbol of commerce, in her right.
In 1775, at the beginning of a reign they hoped would be conducive to economic reforms reflecting the spirit of the Enlightenment, the dealers of the Stock Exchange in the southern French city of Toulouse expressed their intention to celebrate the coronation of the young king Louis XVI. The celebration consisted of a philosophical competition that called on intellectuals to write a dissertation on the proper form the new royal state’s promotion of agriculture and trade should take. This trophy, a masterpiece of southern French silver from the early years of Neoclassicism, was awarded to the winner of the competition, the economist Guillaume-François Le Trosne (1728-1780). A theorist of the physiocratic school, he would become one of the founders of the study of political economy in France a few years before the Revolution.