MERCIER FRÈRES, PARIS
The firm of Mercier Freres was a furniture and tapestry making firm in the 19th Century in France. It was founded in 1828 by Claude Mercier and participated in most of the major exhibitions of the late 19th Century. By the later 19th Century the firm counted Spanish and Iranian royalty among its clientele. The firm made furniture mostly in the 18th Century Louis XV and Louis XVI styles, but by the early 20th Century Mercier Freres had started to experiment with the popular Art Deco style.
is an early-19th-century design movement in architecture, furniture, other decorative arts, and the visual arts followed in Europe and America until around 1830.
The style originated in and takes its name from the rule of Napoleon I in the First French Empire, where it was intended to idealize Napoleon's leadership and the French state. The style corresponds to the Biedermeier style in the German-speaking lands, Federal style in the United States and to the Regency style in Britain. The previous style was called Louis XVI style, in France.
The Empire style was based on aspects of the Roman Empire. It is the second phase of neoclassicism which is also called "Directoire", after a goverment system.
Furniture typically had symbols and ornaments borrowed from the glorious ancient Greek and Roman empires.
The furniture was made from heavy woods such as mahogany and ebony, imported from the colonies, with dark finishes often with decorative bronze mounts. Marble tops were popular as were Egyptian motifs like sphinxes, griffins, urns and eagles and the Napoleonic symbols, the eagle, the bee, the initials "I" and a large "N."
Gilded bronze (ormolu) details displayed a high level of craftsmanship.
Ormolu - (from French 'or moulu', signifying ground or pounded gold) is an 18th-century English term for applying finely ground, high-carat gold in a mercury amalgam to an object of bronze.The mercury is driven off in a kiln leaving behind a gold-coloured veneer known as 'gilt bronze'.
The manufacture of true ormolu employs a process known as mercury-gilding or fire-gilding, in which a solution of nitrate of mercury is applied to a piece of copper, brass, or bronze, followed by the application of an amalgam of gold and mercury. The item was then exposed to extreme heat until the mercury burned off and the gold remained, adhered to the metal object.
After around 1830 because legislation had outlawed the use of mercury other techniques were used instead. Electroplating is the most common modern technique. Ormolu techniques are essentially the same as those used on silver, to produce silver-gilt..