Big mahogany box with bronze overlays and monogram.
Paul Sormani (1817 to 1877), one the most important cabinetmakers of the 19th century, was born in Venice. Having trained as a cabinetmaker, he moved to Paris where he opened his first shop in 1847 specializing in furniture made in the Louis XV and Louis XVI style.
When she decorated her palace, Empress Eugenie, the wife of Emperor Napoleon III, who was particularly fond of furniture in the 18th century styles, engaged Sormani to create spectacular pieces to compliment her period examples. Sormani was able to meet the Empress’s high standards with the excellent quality of the cabinet work, bronze mounts, use of lacquer and unusual marbles.
Sormani’s firm was a maker of fine “meubles de luxe”, (deluxe furniture) whose work was described in the 1867 Exposition Universelle catalogue as “toute sa production revele une qualite d’execution de tout premier ordre”. He received a medal of premiere class at the Exposition Universelle of 1855, followed by another medal at the 1862 exposition in London The workshop also made eclectic furniture in contemporary styles.
It can be difficult to date Sormani’s work, as the firm produced furniture for nearly ninety years. Look for his name stamped on the bronze mounts (sometimes on the reverse) and engraved on the interior lock plates. When Paul Sormani died in 1877, his wife, Marie-Philippine, and his son took over the business; from this date onwards the firm’s pieces were normally signed “Veuve Sormani & Fils.” The firm closed in 1934.