A Rare Louis XV Style Gilt-Bronze Encrier, By Paul Sormani.
French, Circa 1870.
Signed ‘P. Sormani, Paris’ to the underside of the cover.
This finely cast and chased gilt-bronze encrier is of rocaille form with scrolling leaves and branches forming the feet. It is surmounted by a naturalistically modelled fruiting pomegranate, opening to reveal an inkwell.
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’.