Designed By Édouard Lièvre

Alternate Text
  • Alternate Text
  • Alternate Text
  • Alternate Text
  • Alternate Text
  • Alternate Text
  • Alternate Text
  • Alternate Text
  • Alternate Text
  • Alternate Text
  • Alternate Text

Designed By Édouard Lièvre

A Gilt-Bronze Mounted Credence, Attributed To Paul Sormani

France, Circa 1870.

REF No. B76350


Height :181 cm | 71¹/₄ in
Width :150 cm | 59 in
Depth :57 cm | 22¹/₂ in


A Gilt-Bronze Mounted Credence, Designed By Edouard Lievre, Attributed To Paul Sormani,

In the neo-Renaissance style, the spreading pediment with Vitruvian scroll-fitted frieze, centered by an urn and flanked by cartouches, the quarter panelled doors with pierced rinceaux reserves and centred by portrait relief roundels of King Charles VII of France 'The Victorious' (1403-1461) and Agnès Sorel (1422-1450), each opening to an adjustable shelf, flanking a statuette of 'The Belvedere Hermes’, the base fronted by five open arches centred by a pair of columns with Corinthian capitals, above a spreading platform, on bun feet
71 1⁄4 in. (181 cm.) high; 59 in. (150 cm.) wide; 23 1⁄2 in. (57 cm.) deep.

This cabinet, ‘Crédence en noyer enrichie de bronzes’, is Lièvre’s defining piece in the Renaissance style. Its importance is underlined by it being retained in Lièvre’s own collection until the sale of his personal property at Hôtel Drouot in March 1887 following his death. It recalls Franco-Flemish cabinets-on-stands of the early 17th century such as the ‘Marie de Medici cabinet’ in the V & A (W.64:1 to 3-1977), which Lièvre might have seen at Mentmore Towers, Buckinghamshire, where it was from circa 1855 in the collection of Baron Mayer Amschel de Rothschild (d. 1874).

Part of Lièvre’s genius was his flair for combining historically accurate ornament to create new designs. As evidenced by the present cabinet, his skill was in maintaining the correct proportions and symmetry. With subtle hints and acknowledgement to past masters, Lièvre creates something both quite new, yet in homage to the antique. This historicism is evident to the crédence not just in its form, but also in the use of a statuette of Antinous, a reduction after the Belvedere Hermes. A favourite of the Emperor Hadrian, the antique original takes a prominent position in the Belvedere of the Museo Pio-Clementino (Vatican Collection). The portrait plaques depict Charles VII and his favourite mistress Agnès Sorel, chosen to represent love.

The cabinetry can be attributed to the Parisian ébéniste Paul Sormani owing to the superb quality of its construction, but more specifically with reference to a smaller, and albeit overall less accomplished, cabinet signed by Sormani and fronted with an identical single portrait plaque of Agnès Sorel (A Private Collection Volume I, Sotheby’s, New York, 26 October 2006, lot 187).

Also compare a mirror ‘Psyché de Sarah Bernhardt’ (Connaissance des Arts, N° 228, Paris, 2004, S. 28 ff. p. 4-5) and a cabinet-on- stand with identical figure of Antinous (opposed by Diana) sold Sotheby’s, New York, 16 November 2011, lot 239.

Paul Sormani
Born in Venice in 1817, Paul Sormani (1817-1877), was a Parisian maker of fine 'meubles de luxe'. His work was described in the catalogue of the 1867 Exposition Universelle as: 'toute sa production révèle une qualité d'exécution de tout premier ordre' (all of his production reveals a quality of execution all of the first order').

Sormani exhibited at the International Exhibitions in Paris in 1849, 1855, 1867, 1878 and 1900, and in London in 1862, winning numerous medals.

Paul Sormani established the firm in 1847 at 7 Cimetière Saint-Nicolas in Paris, moving in 1854 to 114 rue du Temple, and in 1867 to 10 rue Charlot.

After his death in 1877 Sormani's son Paul-Charles took over the business that later moved to 134 Boulevard Haussmann.

It can be difficult to date Sormani's work, as the firm produced furniture for nearly ninety years. However, when Paul Sormani died in 1877, his wife and son took over the business and from this date onwards pieces are normally signed 'Veuve Sormani & Fils'.

Mestdagh, Camille & Lécoules, Pierre. L'Ameublement d'art français : 1850-1900, Les Editions de l'Amateur, (Paris), 2010.

Meyer, Jonathan.  Great Exhibitions - London, New York, Paris, Philadelphia, 1851-1900, Antique Collectors' Club, (Woodbridge, UK), 2006.

Ledoux - Lebard, Denise. Les Ébénistes du XIXe siècle, Les Editions de L'Amateur, (Paris), 1984; pp. 583-588.



Catalogue des Meubles d’Art de la Succession de feu de M. Edouard Lièvre, 21-24 March 1887, no. 16.
P. Eudel, L’Hôtel Drouot et la Curiosité en 1886-1887, Paris, 1888, p. 120: ‘Credence en noyer enrichie de bronzes’.
'Édouard Lièvre', Connaissance des Arts, N° 228, Paris 2004, S. 28 ff.
Optima propagare Edouard Lièvre: Créateur de meuble & objets d’art, Galerie Roxane Rodriguez, Paris, 2004, pp. 32-33.


Succession de Feu Edouard Lièvre, Paris, Hôtel Drouot, 21-24 March 1887, no. 16 (3,500 francs).
The Collection of M. Leprince.
Private Collection.



Paris, Galerie Roxane Rodriguez, Optima propagare Edouard Lièvre: Créateur de meuble & objets d’art, 16 September – 16 October 2004.


Édouard Lièvre

A Gilt-Bronze Mounted Credence, Attributed To Paul Sormani

Tel +44 (0)20 7495 2324