Practiced since Antiquity and synonymous with a certain luxury, as Louis XIV will demonstrate with the sumptuous decorations of the Palace of Versailles, gilding is a technique to cover wood, metal, glass, ceramic, stone or marble with gold. There are as much techniques of gilding as materials able to receive it.

The gilding on wood, after it had been prepared, can be done thanks to the antique technique of the water gilding but also, since the 19th century, by the gilding paste. For gilding on glass and ceramics, fusion gilding (gold adheres to the object heated at high temperature) is the most used. Gilding on stone and on marble consists of the isolation of the support by a varnish on which will be applied the gold leaves.

Metals (copper, brass, bronze) can be gilded in four ways. This is fire-gilding, a mixture of mercury with molten gold, electroplating, more economical, gilding paste, which allows to cover large size objects, and finally gilding with varnish, which is actually the application of a yellow varnish.

Spelter (or zinc)

Today, the art market calls "spelter" (French : régule) both the zinc, whose low cost contributed to the popularization of the sculpture and which was used during the 19th century for the production of sculptures and works of art, and the real spelter which appears at the end of this century and which is an alloy of tin or lead and antimony.

Zinc sculpture as spelter can be covered with copper and then gilded but they are most often tinted with golden, silver or polychrome pigments to give them a certain patina similar to the bronze patina. Some works of art were thus both made up of spelter and bronze.

Although zinc and spelter do not have the same solidity nor the same sound as those of the bronze, the confusion is easy, so much so from 1910 the manufacturers of zinc sculpture were forced to affix on their works "imitation bronze". Sculptures, clocks, candlesticks, vases or planters will be made in spelter, until the 1930s in particular.

Exhibition at the Marc Maison Gallery: «The magic of a kaolin bouquet » A collection of furniture pieces and works of art decorated with Julien-Nicolas Rivart’s rare porcelain inlays, between 1850 and 1867.

Once again immersing us in the world of the Universal Exhibitions, the Marc Maison Gallery displays its large collection of works by Julien-Nicolas Rivart, of twenty-four unique pieces, all decorated with his porcelain flowers. From sumptuous “bureau plat” to the document folders, these rare luxury items will be offered to the amateurs’ eyes, from May 19 to August 15, 2017, in the new gallery of the Marché Cambo, in the Flea Market of Paris Saint-Ouen.

Julien-Nicolas Rivart is the well-known name of the inventor who revolutionized the aesthetics of porcelain decorated furniture by depositing his patent in 1849. Since the 18th century, the aristocracy has been an amateur of porcelain’s delicacy, and likes to see it decorate its furniture. Cabinetmakers then found a way to fix plaques of porcelain with a bronze mount, but failed to inlay it in the manner of marquetry or the Florentine mosaic of hard stones.

Jewel case realized by Julien-Nicolas Rivart, formerly owned by Elsa Schiaparelli. Marc Maison Gallery.

The « Rivart porcess » is thus the story of a humble decorator on porcelain’s stroke of genius, who suddenly became a privileged collaborator of suppliers of the Second Empire. . Suddenly emerging from anonymity, he then created exceptional works with the companies Tahan and Alphonse Giroux et Cie, from which the Marc Maison Gallery shows here magnificent examples.

The jewelry boxes, sewing tables, desks, and other works presented in this exhibition thus have the refined quality of the items that were to be accepted at the Universal Exhibitions. The finest wood species and the most delicate woodworking techniques are here deploying all their beauty. Rivart participates indeed in the very first of these exceptional exhibitions, in 1851 at the Crystal Palace in London, and will be present at those of 1855 and 1867, with various furniture manufacturers.
Sketch accompanying Rivart's patent from 1849, INPI, Paris.

To the right : A sewing table by Tahan at the 1855 World's Fair.
To the left : Sewing table with a decoration of porcelain marquetry signed by Tahan, Marc Maison Gallery

With a romantic poetry, to which the generation of 'Eugénie de Montijo and Queen Victoria is receptive, the flowers of Rivart immortalize the ephemeral work of nature in porcelain. He collaborated during the 1850s with with a young painter, just stepping from the Sèvres Manufactory, Pierre-Joseph Guérou, whose brush has signed several of the exhibited works. The illusionist accuracy of these paintings has the great merit of not stiffening their subject in any way, giving the appearance of fresh flowers as on the first day.

The title of the exhibition pays tribute to the lyricism of the writer Auguste Luchet as he was standing in front of these incrustations : “One can not imagine, if one did not see, ​​the magic that results from a bouquet of kaolin on a black background framed with gilding, detaching its fresh and lively colors from the darker environment of rosewood, amaranth or violet wood.” (The Industrial Art at the Universal Exhibition of 1867, 1868).

An exceptional "violin" style desk signed by Tahan Manufactory, Rivart & Andrieux and the painter Guérou.
Dated 1853-1856. Marc Maison Gallery.

The most important museums preserve objects formerly acquired by Eugénie de Montijo (Palais de Compiègne), the Count de Manneville (Cité de la Céramique of Sèvres) or the Queen for the Palazzo Pitti (Florence, Italy).
This is a perfect example of technical emulation in the mid-nineteenth century, a fertile period for the invention of airship, pasteurization or the steam motorcycle. The invention of Rivart will only be mastered by him, so that the incrustations of porcelain produced between 1850 and 1867, when he died, are unique works.

This exhibition follows the publication of the book published in collaboration with Emmanuelle Arnauld, Masterpieces of Marquetry in the 19th century, Patents., Dijon, Faton, 2012.

It will be held from 19 May to 15 August 2017 at the Marc Maison Gallery, Marché Cambo, 75 rue des Rosiers, 93400 Saint-Ouen (Paris Flea Market)

All information is on our website:

Phone : +33 (0)6 60 62 61 90

The exhibition's catalog


Versailles parquet floor

Embellishing the floors of the illustrious Palace of Versailles, and conceived for it circa 1684, the Versailles parquet floor ("Parquet de Versailles") is one of the first parquet flooring that we know of. These panels revolutionize the floor styles, bringing them an elegance beyond comparison to the former pavings, and providing moreover a better comfort. It is also called "parquet à la Française" for the success it has in aristocratic homes, from the Grand Trianon to the Hôtel de Toulouse, hosting today the National French Bank. It is thus a flagship element of the Louis XIV, Louis XV and Louis XVI styles.

Its interlaced diagonals gives it distinguishing dynamical feature, but it is most importantly by its structure that an expert recognizes it : it always counts 42 mortices, 42 tenons and 42 dowels, hand-assembled with no glue. The squares can measure from about 3 to 4 feet, and their thickness varies from ¾ to 2 inches.

Of timeless refinement, the parquet de Versailles remains a major decorative reference. The high quality of the woods used in 18th century enables some period parquetry to be used still and to be commercialized, for the connoisseurs' pleasure. The model has however never stopped being produced, and it is still broadly exported. Its simple geometry perfectly adapts to modern indoors, bringing them the Grand Style's charm.

The Maison Lorin in Chartres

In activity in Chartres since 1869, the Maison Lorin is an emblematic stained-glass factory that realized sumptuous compositions for numerous churches throughout France and abroad (New-York, Vienna, Saïgon, Jerusalem, etc). From father to son, three generations of master glass-makers have perpetuated there a craft of exceptional value. Nicolas Lorin (1833-1882) followed by his widow Marie Françoise Dian, Charles Lorin (1866-1940) and François Lorin (1900-1973) have thus succeeded one another, and the house is kept since 1973 by Gérard Hermet and Mireille Juteau.

A true savior of the stained glass craft, that was likely to be lost, Nicolas Lorin has surrounded himself with talented artists to see through his works, notably the Neoclassic painter Charles Crauk. Allying several techniques of enameling, engraving and painting, he could obtain striking effects, uniting vivid and warm colors to subtly painted details.

Being often the author of one to five windows in churches, other churches like Sainte-Anne of Amiens, Saint-Denis of Toury, Saint-Aubin of Houlgate, have insisted to be provided with series of more than ten of these fabulous creations. Some works are listed historical monuments, like the Saint Saturnius of Saint-Aignan Church in Chartres, as well as the Chartres studio itself, inside which part of the original equipment is preserved.