We are recognized world wide as having the greatest expertise and experience in conserving the ormolu produced by Matthew Boulton and as a consequence have had the great honour of being asked by Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery to conserve many of his most important pieces including the Sidereal Clock and the Tew table which can be seen at Soho House in Handsworth Birmingham the home of Matthew Boulton.
Matthew Boulton (1728-1809) was the great pioneer of English or’molu and one of the most influential figures of the early Industrial Revolution. He was described by Josiah Wedgwood as the 'first manufacturer in England' producing beautiful ormolu mounted objects for a very brief period from 1768 to 1782. A master of great self promotion and marketing, he was the only Englishman to successfully challenge the French bronziers pre-eminence of this decorative art form and succeed in supplying the French court.
Based in Birmingham, he developed his father's button, buckle and 'toy' making business into a remarkably efficient centre of production. Under Boulton's hand the business quickly produced fine classically inspired gilt metal mounted objects, frequently incorporating vase forms to satisfy the seemingly insatiable fashion for this icon of classicism following the excavations at Herculaneum. The bodies of his objects incorporated costly marble, glass and most famously blue john, the unique English and beautiful fluorspar found only in Derbyshire. Boulton, using a novel assembly line system of craftsmen each fashioning individual component before the final construction, oversaw every element of manufacture and design.
Soon King George III, the Prince of Wales, Catherine the Great of Russia and numerous fashionable aristocrats were counted among his clients. The range of his objects varied from small perfume burners, casolettes and clocks, made for prospective sale, to magnificent specially commissioned objects such as the sumptuous 'King's' vase candelabra and garnitures supplied to Windsor Castle and his masterpiece, the Sidereal clock commissioned in 1772.
The business enjoyed great popularity until the death of Boulton’s business partner, John Fothergill in 1782. The venture soon became un-commercial as Boulton had already become distracted by his next great project of inventing the steam engine with James Watt.
Boulton's work has remained extremely sought after by collectors and many examples survive in both public and private collections that include the Royal Collection, the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, the Metropolitan Museum, New York and the Art Institute of Chicago among others.
We are recognised as the leading conservation/restoration studio specialising in Matthew Boulton.
We have conserved many of his most important pieces including the 'Tew' table, 'Sidereal' clock, Minerva' clock & 'King's' candle vase.