Sormani, Paul – French Furniture Maker

A Transitional style gilt bronze mounted kingwood, stained and penworked fruitwood marquetry cylinder desk after a model in the Jones Collection at the Victoria and Albert Museum, Paris, circa 1895, possibly Paul-Charles Sormani (b. 1848) or Henry Dasson (1825 - 1896)

p4A ItemID E8944184
A Transitional style gilt bronze mounted kingwood, stained and penworked fruitwood marquetry cylinder desk after a model in the Jones Collection at the Victoria and Albert Museum, Paris, circa 1895, possibly Paul-Charles Sormani (b 1848) or Henry Dasson (1825 - 1896)

p4A ItemID E8944175
A fine Louis XVI style gilt bronze gueridon in the manner of Adam Weisweiler, Paris, circa 1890, by Paul Sormani, 1817 - 1887

p4A ItemID E8923744
A pair of Louis XV-style marble-top stands by Paul Sormani, French, mid to late 19th century

p4A ItemID E8859533

Paul Sormani: Master Cabinetmaker of the 19th Century

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 classe 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.

Reference note by Robert H. Goldberg, p4A editor and an Accredited Senior Member of the American Society of Appraisers from New Orleans, specializing in the appraisal of antiques and residential contents.


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