An Important Gilt-Bronze Mounted Marquetry Commode
An Important Gilt-Bronze Mounted Marquetry Commode, by Paul Sormani, Paris, Circa 1860. Signed 'PAUL SORMANI 10, r. Charlot. Paris' to a brass plaque...
DimensionsHeight: 96 cm (38 in)
Width: 188 cm (75 in)
Depth: 70 cm (28 in)
Weight: 208 kg
An Important Gilt-Bronze Mounted Marquetry Commode, by Paul Sormani, Paris, Circa 1860.
Signed ‘PAUL SORMANI 10, r. Charlot. Paris’ to a brass plaque to the top drawer edge.
The serpentine shaped brêche d’Alep marble top above a bombé shaped front with rocaille handles and encadrement enclosing beautifully figured panels veneered sans traverse and with end-cut foliate marquetry sprays, the angles with espagnolette busts running to cabriole legs.
France, Circa 1880.
With its elongated and bombé form, sculptural espagnolette busts and rocaille gilt-bronze mountings, this magnificent commode is a uniquely 19th century interpretation of the work of the celebrated Régence ébéniste and sculpteur, Charles Cressent (1685–1768). The design is not an exact replica of a known model by Cressent but inspired by his oeuvre. The angle mounts of busts with laced bodices and ruffle-collars are a clear reference to the work of Cressent being drawn from his characteristic bronzes aux espagnolettes which feature so prominently on the writing table in the Residenzmuseum, Munich.
This is a famous model by Paul Sormani and other documented examples are at the Catherine Palace, Tsarskoe Selo, St. Petersburg, and another compliments the Louis XV furnishings of Louise Vanderbilt’s boudoir at Hyde Park, New York.
Signed to the lock " P. SORMANI - PARIS 10 rue Charlot ".
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.