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Sormani Partner's Desk and Cartonnier

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Sormani Partner's Desk and Cartonnier

- Item No.

Grandness and luxury of French design culminate in this partner's desk

Key Features

  • The grandness & luxury of French design culminate in this partner's desk by Paul Sormani
  • Sormani created this exceptional work after the model by Simon Oeben
  • Partner's desk features a gilt tooled brown leather writing surface set within veneered satin
  • Lock plate on one frieze drawer signed Sormani A Paris
  • Circa 1880
  • 71 ¼ wide x 40 ¾ deep x 30 ½ high

Item Details

  • Width:
    71 1/4 and 41 Inches
  • Height:
    30 1/2 and 74 Inches
  • Depth:
    40 3/4 and 13 Inches
  • Period:
    European 19th Century
  • Origin:
The grandness and luxury of French design culminate in this partner's desk and multiple-drawer cartonnier, crafted by master cabinetmaker Paul Sormani. Sormani created this exceptional work after the model by Simon Oeben, one of the most successful ébénistes of the 18th century. The original set, made circa 1765, belonged to the Duc de Choiseul-Praslin, Prime Minister for Louis XV, and can be recognized in one of the gouaches by Van Blarenberghe of the interiors of Choiseul's house, circa 1770. The contents of Choiseul's house were sold in 1796 and Oeben's model was purchased by the Duke of Hamilton. In turn, the Duc d'Aumale purchased the same cartonnier from the Hamilton Palace sale of 1882 and it now resides in the Musée Condé at the Chateau de Chantilly. The piece is illustrated in French Furniture Makers by Alexander Pradere. An identical cartonnier was exhibited by Paul Sormani at the 1900 Paris Exhibition.

Adorned with majestic ormulu bronze and intricate marquetry of amaranth, satinwood and oeil de vermeil, the incredible partner's desk features a gilt tooled brown leather writing surface set within quarter veneered satine. Three frieze drawers are set on each side, with one lock plate signed "Sormani Paris." The outstanding artistry flows gracefully onto the matching cartonnier. Once used to hold important documents, the cartonnier's upper section is set with three gilt-tooled, brown leather faceted drawers, while the lower section is fitted with two cupboard doors on each side opening to one shelf. A patinated and gilt-bronze figural clock with a twin train movement crowns the cabinet, and is stamped with the Marti pastille AA52.
Cartonnier: 41" wide x 13" deep x 74" high

Circa 1880, Paris

Sormani was respected around the world due to the exposure he received from numerous international exhibitions. Recognized as the artistic heir to Andre-Charles Boulle, Sormani received a medal for his glorious designs at the Exposition Universelle in 1867, and was described as "...a distinguished ébéniste of Paris, whose works deservedly attracted the attention of the public, and received the marked approval of the connoisseur." The Vanderbilts were included among Sormani's world-class clients. The distinguished family commissioned several of his works, many of which are still housed in the Vanderbilt Mansion in Hyde Park, New York.

The work of Simon Oeben is distinguished by fine and meticulous cabinetmaking in the transitional and neoclassical styles boasting wonderful veneers and geometric marquetry patterns, often favoring the inclusion of squares and cubes. Though often confused with his more famous brother, Jean-Francois, his work exudes a certain sobriety, in stark contrast to his brother's more floral and exuberant designs, mounted with bronzes that are purposeful rather than merely ornamental. Conferred with the title of première ébéniste du Roi circa 1771, Oeben opened a shop from which his work was sold and he enjoyed patronage from a varied clientele, including the duc de Choiseul.

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Price: $298,500
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