This is a stunning antique French ormolu mounted Vernis Martin serpentine vitrine in the Louis XV manner, circa 1880 in date.
It has exquisite hand painted decoration, is further decorated with exquisite ormolu mounts. The central panel has a beautiful painting depicting a courting couple and the two side panels have paintings of country scenes.
The cabinet has been crafted from solid mahogany and the ormolu mounts are of gilded bronze. The interior has been relined in a sumptuous Royal Purplke velvet.
In excellent condition having been beautifully restored and relined in our workshops, please see photos for confirmation.
Dimensions in cm:
Height 174 x Width 72 x Depth 33
Dimensions in inches:
Height 5 feet, 8 inches x Width 2 feet, 4 inches x Depth 1 foot, 1 inch
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.
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: 07951
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