DESIGN DICTIONARY: Garniture
What is a garniture?
A garniture is a set of decorative objects (typically porcelain, but not always) intended to be displayed together prominently on a mantle, buffet or other piece of furniture.
Sets of Chinese porcelain objects first became popular with the Chinese export trade in the 17th century. Later, European porcelain makers, like Meissen in Germany and Sevres in France, copied the concept. They also were fired in England. In Holland, they were made as Defltware.
Typically a garniture came in odd numbers and featured a central element, such as a clock. Candlesticks, urns, vases or similar objects surrounded the central element.
The objects typically featured exquisite details.
While sometimes the pieces were purchased individually, makers obviously encouraged the acquisition of a set.
At one time, owning a garniture was viewed as a symbol of wealth. They went out of fashion in the early 20th century, so this garniture from the Art Deco period, available at The High Boy, is somewhat unusual both because of the period and because of the material (marble).
Most antique garnitures that survive today are from the 19th or 18th century. Not surprisingly, individual pieces are often lost or broken over the years. For this reason, a complete antique set commands a premium price in the market place.
Today's porcelain makers are reviving the idea.