When hosting a dinner party, thoughts always go to the centerpiece. Should it be flowers? Seasonal fruit? That new splendid vase you just bought? Candlesticks? To every consummate host out there, the exhibit at the Cooper Hewitt presents rare treasures that are a joy to behold. Tablescapes: Designs for Dining is a concise gathering of objects from early 19th-century France, and a study in gold, wealth and power.

Called surtout de table in French, this elaborate gift is on view for the first time in 30 years. It was designed by Pierre-Philippe Thomire for the stepson of Napoleon Bonaparte, Eugène de Beauharnais, son of Josephine. This elaborate centerpiece would house fresh grapes, flowers, candles, and lots of sugary things for dessert. It represents dining on the highest level, where it was almost a theatrical performance. It is truly a spectacle to behold.

The exhibit, Tablescapes: Design for Dining, also incorporates a smattering of modern design, and will be on view until Sunday, April 14, 2019.

Cooper Hewitt Design Museum, 2 east 91st St (corner Fifth Ave)