Matthew Boulton 1728-1809
Matthew Boulton was an early industrialist, scholar, manufacturer and government contractor who was most famed for his manufacture of ormolu and silverware that is prized by all great connoisseurs and collectors from the 18th century through to the present day. Working from his business premises in Soho, near Birmingham he introduced the French fashion for Ormolu into the English market. This consisted of milled gold amalgamated with mercury, and applied to the item, which was then heated to drive off the mercury, leaving the gold decoration. In the late 1760’s and early 1770’s there was a fashion among the wealthy for decorated vases, and he sought to cater to this craze. He initially ordered ceramic vases from his friend and fellow Lunar Society member Josiah Wedgwood, but ceramic proved unable to bear the weight of the decorations so Matthew Boulton chose marble, blue John and other decorative stone as the material for his vases. Matthew Boulton copied designs from antiquity which, along with the ideas that Thomas Sheraton, George Hepplewhite and Robert Adam where promoting, seamlessly fitted in with the new classicism sweeping the country.