From Boulle to Boulton: Ormolu in France and England 1690-1830
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Level: Undergraduate, Graduate
Division: Parsons The New School for Design
Department: Art/Design Hist & Theory
Course Number: PGHT 5712
Course Format: Seminar
Location: NYC campus
Permission Required: No
  • Art History, Theory & Criticism
This seminar will explore the taste for gilt-bronze which emerged in France following the royal edict issued by Louis XIV in 1689 to melt down existing silver furniture to help finance military campaigns. French goldsmiths who did not emigrate for economic or religious reasons, turned to the alternative luxury material of gilt-bronze in order to maintain their livelihood. Gilt-bronze appealed to sophisticated patrons; in England it complemented the European taste for furniture embellished with gilt-bronze mounts and led to a market for wall-mounted gilt-bronze lighting equipment including chandeliers and girandoles. The study of decorative gilt-bronzes is a rapidly developing theme for which a special group of professionals linking international museums with established experts and a new generation of researchers is currently being established. The classes will draw on the experience and knowledge gained in preparing for the new European Galleries 1600-1800 which open at the Victoria and Albert Museum in December 2014. Drawing on the V&A collections we will focus on ormolu mounts for French and English furniture, including the work of André-Charles Boulle and John Channon and English brass-inlaid furniture. We will study the range of decorative gilt-bronzes including wall-lights, candlesticks, clock-cases and chenets and mounted porcelains. Although bronze-workers were mostly anonymous, we will examine celebrated French bronziers including Pierre Gouthière, the subject of a forthcoming exhibition at the Frick and the Wallace Collection in 2015. Charlotte Vignon, Curator of Decorative Arts at the Frick, will present her recent research on Gouthière and the class will also visit the Frick Collection to study mounts on furniture and clocks. We will focus on the suppliers including the marchand merciers in London and Paris. Also planned, is a visit to the Metropolitan Museum with Danielle Kisluk Grosheide to view the collection of furnishing mounts assembled by Goerges Hoentschel featured in the recent exhibition at the Bard Graduate Center Salvaging the Past. Georges Hoentschel and French Decorative Arts from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1907-2013.
Course Open to: Degree Students
Course Pre/Co-requisites:
Open to: University graduate students.


Open to Graduate students.