French Empire Bronze Ormolu And Porphyry Centerpiece
stock #T0581

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French Empire Bronze Ormolu And Porphyry Centerpiece
A fine French Empire ormolu or gilt bronze and Blyberg figural centerpiece. French, circa: 1815-1820. Measuring: 22" high by 12.75" across. Weight 35 pounds.

The centerpiece attributed to Gerard-Jean Galle (1788-1846) depicts three standing female figures in classical dress holding a laurel wreath , on a concave-sided green and red marble uniform base, within a leaf and anthemiom gilt bronze border. The three figures support a short footed bowl of Blyberg Porphyry.

Lost wax method of bronze casting. Hand chasing and chiseling of the surface. The ormolu is Mercury gilded with both Matt finish and highly burnished areas of highlight. Gilding is original and in tact.


Gerard-jean Galle (1788-1846):

Gerard was the son of Claude Galle (1759-1815), one of the leading bronziers of the Empire period, who re-opened the workshop of his father after the fall of Napoleon. During the Restauration period Gerard produced bronzes in the Empire style for both French and foreign clients and he was also a supplier of the Swedish Royal Court.


Porphyry Literature:

Blyberg Porphyry.

The Blyberg Porphyry bowl was produced at the beginning of the 19th century in the workshop of Elfdalens lapidary works, which was created on the 10th of May in 1788, following the presentation to King Gustave III, by the Senator Niles Adam Bielke (who was the director of the mine), of specimens of this 'new' stone which enchanted him. The discovery of porphyry in the region of Darcarlie had been made by Pastor Eric Nasman around 1730. However, the man who truly deserves the title of founder is Eric Hagstrom (1760-1827) who was entrusted with the conception of the lapidary's workshop, becoming its director and who designed all the machinery according to techniques which were avante garde for their time. In March 1789, the first fruits of production were sent to Stockholm including a table plateau and from the start orders poured in, despite the very high prices and King Gustave III was naturally amongst the clientele.

On the 8th of March 1818, Prince Carl Johan offered the Elfdalens company to his son Oscar. Everything was consequently reorganised with the purpose of producing luxury pieces which were intended for Royal presents. In 1867, a fire destroyed the large building where the polishing took place which would never be reconstructed and production became completely insignificant. In 1897, there was the creation of the 'new' porphyry lapidary works in the Alvadalens, whose activities would henceforth be reduced to the manufacture of small objects and later ceased production.


* NFS: Not for sale
Robert L. Reese Antiques & Fine Art 2004