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Exhibitions

The Things of Warsaw / Room of Bronzes

MHW 29259

Decorative furniture fitting

Furniture fittings played both decorative and practical roles. The most precious items were made of gilded bronze, sometime of pure gold, or even of Murano glass in Italy. They matched the form of an item of furniture and its sculptural decoration.

Handles or knobs were items of practical finishing. Properly matched to the character of commodes, escritoires, tables, desks, they were made of less precious materials or sculpted in wood. In Warsaw, the fashion for applications of gilded and chiselled bronze reached its peak in the 18th century. The function of metal fittings was to protect the most delicate elements – keyholes, corners. They were cast by bronzesmiths for cabinet-makers, who fixed them on furniture of their making.

In the 19th century, fire-gilding, which relied on nocuous mercury, was replaced with galvanic gilding. That technique consisted in imposing a layer of gold on an object immersed in a solution through which electric current ran. Regardless of the manner of gilding, the final effect always depended on polishing the surface, which was done using agate or polishing steels.

The presented fitting was created in the workshop of the Łopieński Brothers and originates from their outlet – an elegant store in a prestigious location, which – until the outbreak of World War II (1939–1945) – had been situated in the guardhouse of the Potocki Palace at 15 Krakowskie Przedmieście Street in Warsaw, which was rented from its owners. The fitting made of galvanically gilded bronze is distinguished by the wealth of decorations, especially the manner of shaping a variety of flowers and leaves, which form a laurel. Another striking feature is the plastic rendition of elements derived from tapestries: bows with a ribbon, draperies and tassels. The object bears testimony to the mastery of the Warsaw company, which specialised in gilded bronze items.

Decorative furniture fitting
ŁOPIEŃSKI BROTHERS WORKSHOP
WARSAW; BEFORE 1939
CAST BRONZE, CHISELLED, GILDED
MHW 29259
27 × 9 CM

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