ormolu (ôrˈməlō) [key], finish used on metal to imitate gold. It is employed chiefly for furniture mountings. The term originally applied to a coating of ground gold and was extended to alloys of copper and zinc. Ormolu mountings were characteristic of 18th-century furniture and attained their highest artistic and technical development in France, especially in the work of Charles Cressent, Pierre Gouthière, and Jacques Caffieri. Ormolu was produced on a large scale in England, with Matthew Boulton the chief manufacturer. Workmanship deteriorated in the 19th cent.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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