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Vernis Martin French antiques display cabinet


Ref.: FR02
French antiques display cabinet “Vernis Martin”
Origin: French
Period: about 1880/90 Napoleon III
Material: Gilded wood Gilding and Painting
Measurements: L. 66 cm x P 34 cm x H 139 cm
State of conservation : Excellent

Out of stock


Vernis Martin were designed in competition with Chinese lacquer panels, which were imported and were very expensive. The Louis XV style had changed the profile of the furniture, in particular the comfortable fashionable ones had rounded sides, so the squared Chinese panels were not usable. This type of painting, on the other hand, based on copal mixed with a base color – Pompadour red, green, gray, ivory, black – with gold speckles, had the advantage of being usable on any surface: smooth or rounded. The technique was developed in 1728 by the Martin brothers who held the monopoly for twenty years. Vernis Martin had the defect of not being water resistant and the furniture therefore had to be protected from humidity.

It was applied in superimposed layers, then left to dry and then painted with landscapes, with figures, with genre scenes. The decorations on the vernis Martin were entrusted to talented painters. This lacquering was also used to join Chinese lacquer panels, fixed on furniture with a wavy profile. Carriages, hard book covers, sedan chairs, spinets and pianos were decorated with this technique.

Érard piano panel, Bizy Castle, Vernon [1]

The fashion of vernis Martin continued into the nineteenth century and the lacquered and painted furniture became one of the characteristics of the Napoleon III style. A type of fan, called a vernis Martin, with lacquered slats and decorated with landscapes or with gallant scenes and joined by a silk or parchment bow, was very popular during the nineteenth century.

Additional information

Weight 450 kg
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