This is a striking antique French Vernis Martin rosewood serpentine vitrine in the Louis XV manner, circa 1900 in date.
This beautiful cabinet has three beautifully hand painted panels typical of Vernis Martin furniture and is further decorated with an abundance of exquisite ormolu mounts. The central panel has a beautiful painting depicting a courting couple and the side panels have paintings depicting country scenes.
It has serpentine glass to the front and sides, the interior is lined in beautiful fabric, there is a useful cupboard in the bottom and it stands on elegant cabriole legs.
Add a touch of unparalleled style to your home.
In excellent condition having been beautifully restored in our workshops, please see photos for confirmation.
Dimensions in cm:
Height 171 x Width 82 x Depth 42
Dimensions in inches:
Height 5 feet, 7 inches x Width 2 feet, 8 inches x Depth 1 foot, 4 inches
Vernis Martin – is a lustrous lacquer substitute widely used in the 18th century to decorate furniture and such personal articles as brisé fans, snuffboxes and clocks. The process of adding bronze or gold powder to green varnish was perfected by the French brothers Guillaume and Etienne-Simon Martin, hence its name “Vernis Martin”, as Vernis is French for varnish. It is said to have been made by heating oil, copal and amber and then adding Venetian turpentine and the Martin brothers perfected the process with inclusions in the varnish, sprinkling spangles of silver plated copper wire into the wet varnish ground. Highly praised by Voltaire, it was developed to imitate East Asian lacquerware which was being imported into France during the Louis XV period. Vernis Martin was made in several colours, green, black and a golden red being the most characteristic.
Rosewood is a rich warm reddish brown wood that has a distinct grain with dark brown and black outlining. One variety of Rosewood can vary significantly from another even though it is of the same species. These Rosewoods, native of India, South East Asia and Brazil, were dense and awkward to work with. It was renowned for quickly bluntening cutting tools and visibly darkening in colour when over prepared.
The Brazilian species of Rosewood was by far the most beautifully figured and therefore it became the most sought after and rare. This was the wood of choice for the great box makers, David and Thomas Edwards who used it to veneer some of their finest pieces.
Ormolu (from French ‘or moulu’, signifying ground or pounded gold) is an 18th-century English term for applying finely ground, high-carat gold in a mercury amalgam to an object of bronze.The mercury is driven off in a kiln leaving behind a gold-coloured veneer known as ‘gilt bronze’.
The manufacture of true ormolu employs a process known as mercury-gilding or fire-gilding, in which a solution of nitrate of mercury is applied to a piece of copper, brass, or bronze, followed by the application of an amalgam of gold and mercury. The item was then exposed to extreme heat until the mercury burned off and the gold remained, adhered to the metal object.
No true ormolu was produced in France after around 1830 because legislation had outlawed the use of mercury. Therefore, other techniques were used instead but nothing surpasses the original mercury-firing ormolu method for sheer beauty and richness of colour. Electroplating is the most common modern technique. Ormolu techniques are essentially the same as those used on silver, to produce silver-gilt (also known as vermeil).
Our reference: 05690
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