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About the object
An Important Louis XV Style Gilt-Bronze Mounted Coromandel Lacquer Commode, With a shaped Brèche d'Alep Marble Top, by Sormani.
French, Circa 1880.
Stamped twice to the carcass 'SORMANI, PARIS'.
Engraved to the lock plate 'SORMANI 134 bd Haussmann, Paris'.
The reverse of the bronze mounts stamped 'PS'.
This exceptional commode has two drawers mounted sans traverse, with panels of Coromandel lacquer depicting courtly scenes of stylised gardens and courtiers, set within richly cast gilt-bronze frames.
Coromandel lacquer, named after the Coromandel Coast of India through which it passed on its way to European markets, was originally made only in China. The complicated technique involved incising a decorative pattern into the deep lacquer surface and then colouring the incised lacquer areas, creating a relief pattern in reverse. Originally, in oriental lacquer, the cutting of the lacquer surface would reveal coloured layers of lacquer beneath, depending on the depth of the incision.
In Europe this type of carving was originally called Bantam work, rather than Coromandel, in reference to the Dutch trading post in Java from which lacquer ware of this type was collected for shipment to Europe. Both names are a misnomer, as the majority of this lacquer was sourced from the province of Honan in China.
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.