Art Journal 1867

This article appeared in the 'Art Journal' magazine in 1867.


The Exposition, as might have been expected from it, contains not a few works and even collections that are strange, singular, and curious, as well as those far more numerous “exhibits” that are remarkable for qualities of a higher and a very different character; and here and there, also, after they have been for sometime permitted to remain almost disregarded, some group at length is discovered to possess in unexpected combination qualities apparently the most conflicting. M.Latry, of Paris, has two collections of the remarkable works which he now (aided by a company) is producing in very great variety and abundance, in the material entitled “Bois Durci” which is pulverised wood, or veritable sawdust, hardened and wrought into almost every conceivable decorative object for the production of which ebony, or Irish bog-oak, or even jet, might be employed. The processes of the manufacture by which the wood-dust is formed into a paste and hardened, and finally either polished or left with a rich dull black surface, are patented; but the proprietors consider it desirable not to give any general public description of them, and they are particular in excluding visitors from a personal inspection of the operations carried on in their establishment.

Whatever the details, however, of the processes that are employed in treating the Bois Durci, the beauty and the strength, and consequent durability, of the material itself, and the admirable manner in which the inventor has brought it into practical use, justly claim the highest commendation. The finest carvings are thus reproduced in all their sharpness, delicacy, and expressiveness, at a cost that, by comparison, is astonishingly small. And there really appears to be no limit to the applicability of the Bois Durci, and its happily consistent and appropriate use for decoration. M. Latry exhibits panels with groups and figures in bold or slight relief, for insertion in decorative furniture, medallions, book-covers of every variety, ink-stands, cabinets, clock-cases, the backs of brushes, personal ornaments of all kinds, and so forth, almost without any apparent means of exhausting either his own skill or the versatile adaptability of the material he has invented. Here is seen another agency for extending the influence by widening the range of true Art in its alliance with manufactures.