Ref. 1809

E. Lièvre

Designer (1828-1886)

P. Sormani                                          

Cabinet-maker (1817-1877)                                                                                                                                                                                               

Neo-Renaissance cabinet

France
Circa 1870

Signed on the lock P. SORMANI 10, r Charlot Paris

Height : 160 cm (62,9 in.) ; Width : 84 cm (33 in.) ; Depth : 43 cm (16,9 in.)

Rare neo-Renaissance style cabinet in rosewood and marble, embellished with a rich ornamentation of chiseled bronzes with an “old gold” patina.
It opens in the upper part with two arched doors adorned with embossed medallions in chiseled bronze representing Mars and Venus, underlined with foliage scrolls, the whole surmounted by a frieze of posts and framed by columns with balusters.
The belt reveals a writing tablet covered with green leather.
The lower part opens with two pairs of doors, one in the shape of an arch decorated with wrapped scrolls in gilded bronze framed by two columns of the Tuscan order in marble ; the other with diamond moldings comprising a cartouche in chiseled bronze on a marble background, punctuated by scrolled pilasters. The set rests on four molded feet.

Related work

This cabinet designed by Edouard Lièvre in collaboration with Paul Sormani resumes the decorative repertoire of neo-Renaissance production largely represented during the sale of his property after death Succession de Feu Edouard Lièvre, Paris, Hôtel Drouot, 21-24 Mars 1887, and in particular a similar cabinet described under the n°17 : « Meuble à deux corps de style Renaissance […] les portes du corps supérieur présentent des arcades doubles surmontées de deux médaillons de bronze, en haut-relief, Mars et Vénus… ».

Biography

Paul Sormani, born in Italy in 1817, dead in 1877, specialized at first in the making of small furniture. He installed 1854 his workshops at the n°114 rue du Temple in Paris. The Sormani company knew then a great success and was much in favor with the Imperial Family as well as with the Paris high society. Empress Eugénie furnished then her palaces in the Louis XV and Louis XVI styles, with some of Sormani’s creations. Presenting his work at all important fairs, such the 1849 Exposition of the Industrial Products or the Universal Exhibitions from 1855 until 1867, Sormani was then honored by jurys for his « production of high standard quality » and won the highest awards. In 1867, by the time of the great Universal Exhibition, Sormani enlarged and transferred his workshops to the n°10 rue Charlot. 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 à Paris ». After World War I, they went into partnership with Thiébaux and the company premises were then installed at n°134 boulevard Haussmann until 1934.

Edouard Lièvre (1829-1886) studied under the painter Thomas Couture (1815-1879), one of the more conspicuous artists in the circle of the Empress Eugenie. E. Lièvre soon devoted himself, however, to the art of furniture design. A talented ornamentalist, marked by the eclecticism typical of the Second Empire, Lièvre knew how to avail himself of skillful collaborators in order to create pieces in various styles: Renaissance, Louis 16th or Oriental, which last were part of the great artistic movement in fashion since the 1860’s: the Japanese style named also Aesthetic Movement. they recreated an imaginary Far East adapted to decorate Western reception rooms. As an Interior decorator Lièvre also matched his luxurious and refined furniture with bronzes, ceramics and even fabrics. This Oriental exoticism, which only the richest could afford, appealed to bankers, judges, artists and famous courtesans as well as the Royal and Princely families. After the death of Edouard Lièvre, the greater part of his models, sketches and cabinet designs were bought by art publishers such as « l’Escalier de Cristal » or by Ferdinand Barbedienne, thus giving them the right to reproduce Lièvre’s furniture with their own stamp (see « Ventes de la succession Lièvre », Hotel Drouot, 27 février 1890).

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