A spelter male figure of 'Le Triomphe' by Moreau, Louis Auguste (1855-1919), the heroic male figure in a classical stance with billowing girdled drapery, his left hand holding aloft a pair of gilded laurel garlands and in his right, a laurel branch; raised upon an integrated shaped base bearing a title plaque, and with incised signature and 'Salon Beaux arts'. Height 74 cm
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Laurel Leaf - The use of the laurel leaf as a decorative element can be traced back to ancient Greece and Rome, where it was closely associated with victory and honour. In these cultures, the laurel was a sacred tree that was dedicated to the god Apollo and was believed to have protective and healing properties.
In ancient Greece, the laurel wreath was awarded to victors in athletic competitions, such as the Olympic Games, as a symbol of their achievement. The wreath was also associated with academic achievement, and was often worn by scholars and poets. The Greeks also used the laurel leaf as a symbol of victory in war, and it was often depicted in artwork alongside images of triumphant warriors and heroes.
The Romans continued this tradition, and the laurel wreath became a symbol of the highest military honor, the triumph, awarded to victorious generals. The wreath was also used to crown emperors and other important officials, and was often depicted in Roman art and architecture as a symbol of power and authority.
The laurel leaf is still used as a symbol of achievement, success, and excellence, and is frequently used in logos, emblems, and other branding materials. Its association with victory and honour has made it a popular choice for awards, medals, and other forms of recognition.
Spelter - Spelter was the name given to an alloy of zinc and brass or copper used in the 19th century for statuary and lighting. It is a brittle bluish-white metal. It was used as a cheap replacement for bronze, but being brittle easily breaks and can't be repaired. When finished it can often be mistaken for bronze, but if discreet a scratch on the base displays shows a greyish colour, the metal is spelter, if a golden colour the metal is most likely bronze.
Floral Swag / Garland / Festoon - Floral swags are a decorative motif often used in the ornamentation of various objects, such as silverware, glassware, and furniture. The term "swag" refers to a garland or wreath of flowers, foliage, or other decorative elements, which is usually arranged in a loop or curve.
Floral swags can be found in a variety of decorative styles, from ornate Baroque and Rococo designs to more naturalistic Art Nouveau and Art Deco styles. They are often used to add a touch of elegance, refinement, or whimsy to an object, and can be seen on a range of items from chandeliers and candlesticks to picture frames and tea sets.
In the decoration of silver objects, floral swags are often used to accentuate the curves and lines of the piece, and to add visual interest to the surface. Similarly, on glass objects, floral swags may be used to frame or highlight a particular area of the object, or to add a touch of color and delicacy.
On furniture, floral swags can be found on a variety of pieces, from cabinets and armoires to chairs and sofas. They are often used to enhance the lines and curves of the furniture, and can be used to create a sense of movement and flow in the design.
Overall, floral swags are a versatile decorative element that can be adapted to a range of styles and applications, and have been used in the decoration of various objects throughout history.
Incised - A record of a name, date or inscription, or a decoration scratched into a surface, usually of a glass or ceramic item with a blunt instrument to make a coarse indentation. Compare with engraving where the surface is cut with a sharp instrument such as a metal needle or rotating tool to achieve a fine indentation.
Gilding - Gilding is a method of ornamentation whereby a thin sheet of gold metal is applied to items made of wood, leather, ceramics, glass and silver for decorative purposes.
For furniture including mirrors, the sheet of gold is usually applied over a coating of gesso. Gesso is a mixture of plaster of Paris and gypsum mixed with water and then applied to the carved wooden frames of mirrors and picture frames as a base for applying the gold leaf. After numerous coats of gesso have been applied, allowed to dry and then sanded a coat of "bole", a usually red coloured mixture of clay and glue is brushed on and allowed to dry, after which the gold leaf is applied. Over time parts of the gilding will rub off so the base colour can be seen. In water gilding, this was generally a blue colour, while in oil gilding, the under layer was often yellow. In Victorian times, gilders frequently used red as a pigment beneath the gold leaf.
Metal was often gilded by a process known as fire gilding. Gold mixed with mercury was applied and heated, causing the mercury to evaporate, the long-term effect of which was to kill or disable the craftsman or woman from mercury poisoning. The pursuit of beauty has claimed many victims, not the least of which were the artists who made those pieces so highly sought after today.
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