Definition of ormolu in US English:



  • A gold-colored alloy of copper, zinc, and sometimes tin, cast into desired shapes and often gilded, used especially in the 18th century for decorating furniture and making ornaments.

    • ‘These are the only versions known to have been executed in ormolu, and must be one of the earliest instances of this material being used for decorative objects in England.’
    • ‘There is also a correlation between art brass and the traditional use of ormolu in French interiors.’
    • ‘However, this example is uniquely supported by an extravagant base of gilt and ormolu based on antique Roman design.’
    • ‘Papworth also designed the marble chimney-piece carved by W.G. Nicholl, and an elaborate steel and ormolu fire-grate made by W. Slark & Son.’
    • ‘Needless to say, the ormolu retains its original gilding, and the Blue John body is richly hued and striated.’
    • ‘Only two other ormolu tea urns by Boulton are known: one in the Royal Collection, and one owned by the Duke of Northumberland.’
    • ‘Illustrated here is a spectacular candelabrum from one of his most ambitious product lines - objects that combined ormolu and stone.’
    • ‘This technical difference will assist in distinguishing ormolu produced in Boulton's Birmingham workshops from that supplied by Anderson in London.’
    • ‘Matthew Boulton, James Watt's partner in the manufacture of steam engines, also made silver, Sheffield plate, and ormolu, while another of his associates, Francis Eginton, was a pioneer in the revival of stained glass.’
    • ‘Kent provided designs for lighting equipment, published by his associate John Vardy in 1744, that could have been made in ormolu, but because they were special commissions for a royal client, they were executed in silver.’
    • ‘A museum quality French directoire mantle clock in ormolu has been brought to the fair by Gavin Douglas, of London, as something of a mystery.’
    • ‘Organised in conjunction with Soho House in Birmingham, where Boulton lived and had his factory, this conference explores themes such as Boulton's career, his work in ormolu and silver, and the role of his factory.’
    • ‘Among the thieves' haul were four antique boxes, rare Meissen porcelain figures, vases and bowls, and two ormolu clocks, which had all been in Lord Chichester's family for generations.’
    • ‘He checked the time by his watch, then reset the ormolu clock on the desk, which had lost two minutes during the night.’
    • ‘Lampstands made of blue jars of Spode porcelain with ormolu dragon mounts are placed strategically near the dining table, which is set for the dessert course!’
    • ‘Relations between the two were not always good, but in 1752 a spectacular casket, mounted in ormolu with pietra dura plaques, is first recorded at The Vyne.’
    • ‘Le Chabanais might have been a sober French townhouse on the outside; inside it was all velvet, ormolu, and tiger-skin.’
    • ‘Nevertheless, the voluptuous figures that adorn his ormolu mounts and the fluidity of his designs gave Linke's pieces their characteristic blend of ancien regime and Art Nouveau, that made them stand out.’
    • ‘A bronze figure of Hercules supports an ormolu bowl surmounted by a triple row of plumes, from which rise the three candle branches.’
    • ‘Rich ormolu, or gilded bronze moldings and medallions, further defined elegance, offering bold standards for royal palaces throughout Europe.’


Mid 18th century: from French or moulu ‘powdered gold’ (used in gilding).