Antique and Magnificent, Hotel Front Desk, Ormolu Figural Bell.

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Antique and Magnificent, Hotel Front Desk, Ormolu Figural Bell.



France early 1800.

Size 23 x 20 x 10 cm

Ormolu ( from French or moulu, "ground/pounded gold") is the gilding technique of applying finely ground, high-carat goldmercury amalgam to an object of bronze, and for objects finished in this way. The mercury is driven off in a kiln leaving behind a gold coating. The French refer to this technique as "bronze doré"; in English, it is known as "gilt bronze".

Craftsmen principally used ormolu for the decorative mountings of furniture, clocks, lighting devices, and porcelain. The great French furniture designers and cabinetmakers, or ébénistes, of the 18th and 19th centuries made maximum use of the exquisite gilt-bronze mounts produced by fondeurs-ciseleurs(founders and finishers) such as the renowned Jacques Caffieri (1678–1755), whose finished gilt-bronze pieces were almost as fine as jewelers' work. Ormolu mountings attained their highest artistic and technical development in France. In the hands of the Parisian marchands-merciers, the precursors of decorators, ormolu or gilt-bronze sculptures were used for bright, non-oxidizing fireplace accessories or for Rococo or Neoclassical mantel-clocks or wall-mounted clock-cases – a specialty of Charles Cressent (1685–1768) – complemented by rock-crystal drops on gilt-bronze chandeliers and wall-lights.