A Very Fine and Large French 19th Century Louis XV Style Ormolu Mounted Tulipwood Three-Drawer Bureau Plat - After a model by Joseph Baumhauer (died 1772) - Attributed to Paul Sormani (French-Italian 1817-1877). The serpentine shaped rectangular top enclosing a gilt tooled burgundy leather writing surface (worn) within a molded border above a long central drawer flanked by two drawers, with scrolled ormolu drawer-pulls, ormolu floral encadrements and acanthus corners coraised on elegant cabriole legs. (Unsigned - Unmarked). Circa: Paris, 1880.
Height: 31 1/4 inches (79.4 cm)
Width 78 1/2 inches (199.4 cm)
Depth: 35 1/2 inches (90.2 cm)
Ref.: A2648 - Lot 11435
Paul Sormani (1817-1877): Born in Venice, Paul Sormani set up in Paris in the middle of the 19th century. He specialized in creating furniture and works of art and was known for his high quality reproductions of Louis XV and XVI furniture with finely chased gilt-bronze mounts as well as Boulle style pieces. Sormani usually engraved the lock-plate of some of his pieces, the bronze castings bare the intials "PS" on the reverse.
He exhibited at many Universal Exhibitions, like in Paris in 1855, where he was awarded a first class medal, in London in 1862 where he received another medal and yet again in Paris in 1867.
Everyone agreed that his creations revealed the highest standards of quality; during the 1867 Universal Exhibition the catalog described his work as follows: « Toute sa production révèle une qualité d’exécution de tout première ordre ».
In 1867, he moved to 10. rue Charlot, where he met a great success until his death in 1877. His wife and son took over the business and later moved it to 134, Boulevard Haussmaun. From this date onwards pieces are normally signed “Veuve Sormani et Fils”.
Joseph Baumhauer (died 22 March 1772) was a prominent Parisian ébéniste, one of several of German extraction. Having worked for some years as a journeyman for the German-born ébéniste François Reizell, he was appointed ébéniste privilegié du Roi in 1767, enabling him to skirt certain requirements of the Paris guild under royal privilege as well as a stiff entrance fee. He used the stamp ♣JOSEPH♣, the name by which he was commonly known to his contemporaries, between fleurs-de-lis emblematic of his royal appointment. Such stamps, like the long-mysterious B.V.R.B., served to mask the identity of cabinetmakers to the clientele of marchands-merciers, such as Lazare Duvaux, who owed the "ébéniste Joseph" 1726 livres at the time of his death.Furniture stamped by Baumhauer that is mounted with Sèvres porcelain plaques must have been commissioned and sold by Simon-Philippe Poirier, who maintained a monopoly of the production, having originally devised the decor. Some furniture stamped by Joseph is veneered with panels of Japanese lacquer, another sure indication of the intervention of a marchand-mercier, who, rather than the cabinetmaker himself, was in a position to purchase Japanese screens and cabinets, have them disassembled and, once the wooden support of the lacquer surfaces had been planed down, applied as costly veneer panels. Other marchands-merciers for whom Joseph is known to have worked include Thomas-Joachim Hébert and Charles Darnault.
The inventory of his workshop and stock in trade taken after his death following a long illness gives a snapshot of his current style; one of the appraisers was the ébéniste Martin Carlin, to whom Joseph owed 113 livres. As might be expected in 1772, some of the furniture was in Louis XV style (contournée, "serpentine" in shape) while entries for other pieces revealed their Louis XVI character, such as a table with legs "a gaine avec des Canelures", that is, with straight, fluted tapering legs. Most of the refined furniture bearing his stamp is in Louis XV style, employing crossbanded veneers of tropical woods rather than marquetry, and with sensitively-integrated gilt-bronze mounts that betoken close collaboration with the fondeurs-ciseleurs who made them, rather than purchases of stock mounts on the wholesale market.
About 1745 he married Reine Chicot, of a family of Parisian menuisiers, makers of carved panelling and seat furniture. Their son, Gaspard-Joseph Baumhauer, born in 1747, is thought to have taken over his father's business, using his father's stamp, a common practice of the time.
A similar designed desk, attributed to Joseph Baumhauer (died 22 March 1772) is part of the collection at the Getty Center, Museum South Pavilion, Gallery S107, Los Angeles, California.