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Alabaster veneer – placage d’albâtre


March 20, 2010

Convenient veneer alabaster

A convenient form curved veneer alabaster and decor in reserves, probably Italy, middle of the eighteenth century will be sold by the study and associate Millon , April 7, 2010 at Drouot Richelieu, during the vacation, the auction house arrange for the sale of part of the collection of the castle Verdière in favor of the continuation of its restoration.

convenient form curved veneer alabaster

convenient form curved veneer alabaster
Italy, mid-eighteenth century

(C) study Millon & Associates

The alabaster is a variety of gypsum and by extension it also includes different varieties of limestone. There are now very few examples of this art primarily intended for princes and popes who octroyaient monopoly in creating factories.

A fter experienced a flourishing age in antiquity, the use of marble and precious stones reborn from the fifteenth century mainly in Rome and Florence thanks to the patronage of the Medici and more particularly that of Ferdinand de Medici first. In 1588 several workshops include the Uffizi Palace to form the Opificio delle Pietre di Firenze hard. Stones found employment as well as architectural furniture.

At the end of the sixteenth century taste is widespread in Europe and Russia: Rudolf II creates a factory in Prague, in 1677 Louis XIV created the Gobelins workshops in 1737 Charles VII of Bourbon, King of Naples and Sicily, founded a Naples, it later became Charles III of Spain install the factory Buen Retiro near Madrid. Augsburg and Germany and Russia Peterhof near St. Petersburg.

convenient form curved veneer alabaster

convenient form curved veneer alabaster
Italy, mid-eighteenth century

(C) study Millon & Associates

From 1748, the discovery of archaeological sites

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of Pompeii and Herculaneum initiates the taste for decoration and influence in the ancient style objects, creating highly sophisticated production performed for the Grand Tour travelers and collectors. This art, though practiced in Europe remains fundamentally Italian, indeed artisans who work in these factories came from Italy.

Origin of this item: catalog of the sale of 7 April 2010 study by Millon & Associates

Learn more:

515VMJT4CNL “The inlaid stone hard”

by Giusti,

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Citadels and Mazenod Edition

1256312 “Objects Lavish marble and hard stone”

by G. Sarti, Paris 2006.

“Mosaics and precious stones”

magazine Antiques and Works of Art 1991, Fabbri Ed 19.

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COE – Coefficient of expansion – in wood and glass fusing

Lots of research of different species on wood’s coefficient of dimensional change


This could be a separate post
90 COE Bullseye glass and glass

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ancien , miroir au mercure


March 29, 2010

The old mercury mirrors

Mirrors in antiquity and the Middle Ages until were only simple metal discs slightly convex and polished according to the shape of the mirror. It is only from the XIIIth century, glass mirrors appeared in Europe. These mirrors consisted of a glass surface which was applied on a lead plate or polished silver.

c is the fifteenth century Venice that develops the manufacture of tin mirrors (mirrors the famous mercury). Plating method was to take a glass plate alloy (amalgam) mercury and tin. They covered the surface of sheets of tin, which were sanded, smooth and covered with mercury. Then, firmly maintained a woolen cloth on the surface with a mass of iron for about a day. Is inclined then the glass plate to remove the excess mercury: then appeared a lustrous surface. They had a large Venetian mirrors reflectivity and above were of exceptional purity but could only have small dimensions because they were made from blown glass cylinders that are split and that is flattened on a stone .

mercury mirror

The Hall of Mirrors of the Palace of Versailles

The tin is a very long, expensive and hazardous to health, a craftsman glazier subject to fumes of mercury rarely exceeded the age of 30. The process will be banned from 1850, with the discovery of the modern technique of silverware.

The manufacture of ice has had such a development in the city of the Doges, that there miroitiers formed a corporation separate from the glass itself. Police had parked the Venetian glassmakers on the island of Murano in death threats he (or she) who disclose the secret of these mirrors. However, despite the prohibitions and the most terrible threats of the Venetian government, from the late sixteenth century rival institutions founded by workers who had managed to escape, operating in Germany.

mercury mirrors

357 ice cover seventeen arches of doors
the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles

© Cécile Genest / The Internet Magazine

L France, at the beginning of the reign of Louis XIV, enjoyed an experience very old and diversified in the field of glass, but the first tests were executed to make these mirrors in Paris

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at the end of 1630, by Eustache Granmard and Antoine Antonneuil, were not successful.

V ery modes in the aristocratic interiors during the reign of Louis XIV, imports of Venetian mirrors were made in France that such an extension Colbert sent to Venice in 1665 a secret agent to organize the escape of glass to Paris. Skilled workers to decide to emigrate, the Minister of Finance did not skimp on resources. He had given their considerable personal privileges including: tax exemptions, special courts to administer, and a salary far above average. At the time, the price of a nice mercury mirror is approximately equivalent to 800 days of work a ordinary laborer.

It is at this time that Colbert could finally establish the manufacture of ice cream French (who later became Saint Gobain) fight for the rule of Venice in this technique. French workers are able to make mirrors of a size and exceptional quality, allowing Colbert to prohibit the importation of 1672 Venetian products.

mercury mirror

The blue back and a sparkling mirror old mercury
reflection and hot tin particles capture light so inimitable

The year 1684 saw the appearance of a great improvement in the manufacture of

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glass mirrors, with the process of casting glass flat, a method that is still used today for large parts. This was the quantum leap of French mirrors. In 1691, the French invention of laminated glass in the workshop of Saint Gobain allowed to make mirrors of very large surface.

The e chemical process of coating the glass surface with metallic silver (silver) will be discovered in 1835 by a German, Baron Justus von Liebig, is still used for the production of mirrors. The current procedure is to spray, under vacuum, a very thin layer of aluminum or silver on the lower face of a glass plate.

Louis philippe mirror

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ancien , miroir au mercure

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French Oak, Versailles & Kentucky Golfing?

Trip to KY

Winery b&b in a log cabin


winery tour –

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french oak

kentucky golfing


verailles sign -again


jewelry vault – french word for small items just for amusement or enjoyment


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Secrets of the Ébéniste Revealed – The American School of French Marquetry

I recently attended the American School of

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French marquetry in San Diego California where I took the first two Classes on traditional French marquetry techniques. The vast majority of people I speak with have no idea what marquetry is, though when they see an example, they recognize it. Here are a couple of pictures I took to get you on the right page. After my two weeks of classes were over, I took a day to drive up to L.A. to see some excellent examples of 17th and 18th century French furniture. (more to come on this trip in a future post) The first photo is the top of a table by one of the most famous ébénistes of all time, André-Charles Boulle. The top is composed of a number of different materials: sea turtle shell, commonly known as tortoise shell, which is somewhat translucent and is backed by red paint, brass, pewter and quite a few various woods which make up the scrolls, flowers, birds and foliage.

Top of table in the J. Paul Getty Museum originally from Paris France, about 1680-85 attributed to the great ébéniste André-Charles Boulle
Another table in the J. Paul Getty Museum originally from Paris France about 1680-90, attributed to André-Charles Boulle.

Here is a view of the whole table.


While at the school, we started out with a brief overview of the history of marquetry, or Marqueterie as the french say it. There are a number of different techniques that have been developed over the years which date back thousands of years as far back as the Egyptians. Originally the earliest furniture was inlaid by carving recesses into the wood and gluing stones, bone, shell and other precious materials into it. Then in the 14th century the Italians really began improving the art form.

There were three techniques

Tarsia Certosina

Tarsia a Geometrica

Tarsia a Encastro

At the American School of French Marquetry, our primary focus was in the Tarsia a Encastro techniques.




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Porphyry in furniture

April 27, 2010

the Porphyry in furniture

Porphyry stone purple spotted white extreme hardness, was a material of choice for the Romans, who used it primarily for its decorative character to be integrated into the architecture, it was used to make columns

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or pavements, create colorful effects drapery in sculpture, in the manufacture of

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all kinds of precious objects. The Romans also used to symbolize the supernatural aspect of the imperial person and used it as propaganda of the Empire, through the various portraits and sculptures and also sets some luxurious imperial palaces.

porphyry vase

Eagle Suger, porphyry vase, wings and head of gilded silver and niello,

middle of the twelfth century, the Louvre.

The termination was in the fifth century of quarrying the only deposit then operated, the “Mont purple” in Egypt, Gebel current Dokhan forced until the early nineteenth century to constantly re porphyry already extracted. All objects created in this area during this period will come from ancient or trimmed to provide new works, or reused and reassembled with other materials (marble, serpentine, bronze, …). This is how many objects can not be dated with precision. Rocks speckled even exist in Europe and France, but they were used only at the end of the eighteenth century, Sweden and Russia.

porphyry vase

Red porphyry vase large room Louis XV Louvre

During the Renaissance, porphyry fascinated by the technical challenge its implementation. It was in Florence, in the circle of Grand Duke Cosimo de ‘Medici were elaborated as new techniques for hardening steel which facilitated the waist. Porphyry hardness makes it very difficult to work, it took time to cut a disc in a Roman column several weeks, tip burn a portrait medallion several months.

A u seventeenth century, excavations in Italy revived the madness of porphyry. there is no collection princely pride himself who then vases and busts of ancient porphyry. Through the collections of Richelieu and Mazarin, we see the development in France of a “Great Taste” from Rome. Louis XIV was a great lover constituted the largest group of porphyry in the world, including acquiring the Borghese collection.

pair of porphyry urns

Pair of urns covered in porphyry Louis XIV

(C) Christie’s

From the second half of the eighteenth century, when the porphyry still retains the prestige of an ancient material, rare and therefore luxurious imperial and religious symbolism attached to it for centuries gradually fades in favor of a decorative use, attractive then over Europe. We simply raise bronze vases of the last century, but with the revival of

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the taste for antiquity. He participated in a refined interiors of amateurs, such as the Marquis de Marigny, Madame du Barry and the Duke d’Aumont.

porphyry vases

Pair of vases mounted Porphyry, 1790

(C) Christie’s

T he discovery and exploitation of porphyry deposits of Älvdalen, Sweden in 1788 gave rise to the creation of remarkable bronze vases mounted in carved and gilded. These objects porphyry forms and for various uses were greatly appreciated by Marshal Bernadotte, King Johann Karl IV, who ruled Sweden from 1818 to 1844. If they do not become diplomatic gifts for French dignitaries, they were sold as “raw” in Stockholm or Gothenburg merchants for special agents or even merchant drapers who dressed in French bronzes cast by bronze in the capital.

The e porphyry was all the rage at the same time in Russia, the presence of rich ores near the Ural helping its effervescence. The interiors of Pavlovsk and Peterhof attest, still filled objects sometimes spectacular gemstones.

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Rock Crystal

January 28, 2010

The art of rock crystal

Crystal in the furniture used to describe two very different materials: natural crystal or rock crystal, which is the hardest of all varieties of quartz, colorless and crystal manufactured, which is, strictly speaking, a glass of finesse, transparency and exceptional sound.


flat rock crystal

Flat rock crystal shaped temple


The e rock crystal has been known since antiquity, and was always considered equal to a precious stone he used for making art objects of great luxury, as well as various ornaments.

o n recognized with its transparency and tiny inclusions, according to specific fields (the Alps, Madagascar and Brazil).

art rock crystal

Pot bouquet crystal, Milan, XVII

Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé
(C) Christie’s

U A Middle Ages,

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they make all sorts of relics. It also delivers rock crystal in very thin plates, such as ice today to protect delicate miniature paintings, and to protect the relics.

reliquary rock crystal

Reliquary rock crystal and gilt

Thirteenth century, (c) Normandy Museum

During the Renaissance, in the courts of Germany, Italy and France, the rock crystal objects, true masterpieces are very popular.

D es craftsmen carve and dig in the crystal mass, to make all kinds of decorative and utilitarian objects such as goblets, cups, vases … that once polished and engraved with arabesques and various ornaments, are richly decorated with precious mounts enamelled gold or platinum.

rock crystal chandelier

Chandelier Regency, eighteenth century


A u seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, this area is used to make scarce and expensive chandeliers and stunning chandeliers.

T he first chandeliers made of rock crystal back to the mid seventeenth century. The crystals are so small and are pearls strung chandeliers called laces. In the early eighteenth century the discovery of new careers allowed to get larger items which could then be turned into drops, stars or pyramids.

rock crystal pendant

Size rock crystal pendant in
(C) rings

Learn more:

The article website Qantara on rock crystal

the company rings , who makes luminaires rock crystal

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cristal de roche , lustre , objets d’art

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Timber framing – Dutch barns

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Do you wield a BIG AXE? The history of the division of woodworking trades in France

Do you wield a BIG AXE? The history of the division of woodworking trades in France


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is your AXE?

From ancient times until the industrial revolution, the axe was one of the most commonly used tools in woodworking. Today however, it has fallen out of favor as a precision tool for skilled use and has been relegated to splitting firewood and throwing competitions… unless you are Roy Underhill or Richard Maguire “The English Woodworker”. In 2012 Roy gave a TEDTalks about the broad axe, and to the fear and trepidation of the audience, demonstrated it’s use on stage! Last December 2013 Richard posted on his blog about his Essential Non Essential tool, the axe.

These two exceptions aside, long before France was even a country and as far back as Egyptian times, the axe comes into play in distinguishing an early division between two different kinds of workers of wood. All woodworks fell under the name Charpentiers, Carpenters. There were the “charpentier de la grande cognée” Carpenter of the Big Axe, and the “charpentier de la petite cognée” Carpenter of the Small Axe. The big axe was used for timber framing buildings & log homes and the small axe was used for making small movable items like benches and chests. Early in history before breakthroughs in metallurgy, the carpenter had only a handful of fairly unrefined tools to work with. The axe was indispensable for all sorts of tasks from felling a tree, to squaring a log or thicknessing board, to even cutting joinery on a large scale. The basic woodworking tools that were available, remained relatively unchanged for many centuries. What did change over time was the development of specialized skills into specific trades as well as the organization and control of those workers.

Woodworking Tools 1600-1900







In the Roman times, colleges of artisans were created who worked on behalf of public associations regulated by the Emperors. The trades which were useful to war, were granted favors and the rest saw a decline. These colleges of artisans under the military Roman rule, exerted great influence on the conquered Gaul, Germany and pre-religious guilds. Gaul encompassed an area larger than present day France and was ruled by the Romans for 5 centuries from 51 B.C. to 486. A.D.

The fall of the Roman empire removed the grip of military organization on the trades and eventually lead to the Feudal system of legal and military customs structuring society around the land holders. France was originated as Francia Occidentalis, West Francia, in 843 A.D. At the beginning of the Middle Ages, the woodworkers were reduced to a state of servitude. Later in the 10th century, we see the disappearance of l’ouvrier et le paysan, the worker and the peasant, who belonged to the seigneur, lord, and who was sold as furniture. The slave becomes the serf. In the Middle Ages, specialization of work starts to occur and the trades were organized into Corporations, guilds. The guilds were associations of people engaged in the same business. Each profession was regulated at the city level. Apart from de l’architecte et de l’appareilleur, the architect and the stone fitter, a real superiority is given to maçons,tailleurs de pierre, carpenters, masons, stone cutters, carpenters, and to another degree, trades of iron and fire, les serruriers et les verriers, locksmiths and glass workers.

By the 12th century, corporations were small republics, whose leaders were elected by the les maîtres et les ouvriers, masters and the workers.. Regulations of various trades existed long before this point but they now become officially adopted. The serf has just recently become l’artisan, the craftsman, working for himself. The worker was free to do more ore less work, to get hired, or withdraw from a worksite as is done today. Workers like stone cutters were paid by the task, not by the day or hour.

In 1268, Étienne Boileau, provost under Louis IX, wrote livre des métiers, the Book of Trades which served as a model for the regulation of the trades throughout France. It coordinated the articles of la corporation des ouvriers du bois, the corporation of woodworkers and gave them power of public law. This model established regular corporations and stipulates the classes of apprentices, servants, masters: those who teach, those who serve and those who command. apprentis, valets, maîtres : ceux qui s’instruisent, ceux qui servent, ceux qui commandant. The woodworkers were first called charpentiers, carpenters, and It notes that there are two kinds of carpenters. The first kind, Les charpentiers font les gros travaux, Carpenters of large works which is the same as we discussed earlier called Carpenters of the Big Axe, who make fermes, pouters & ponts, trusses, beams & bridges. Then there are three subdivisions of the second kind who make small works, Carpenters of the small axe: les huchers- hutches, benches & tables; les huissiers- door & windows; les cochetiers- ships & carriages. It wasn’t long before the specialties were born.

From 1268 in Paris, the statues from the corporation of the workers of wood list 10 distinct categories of artisans:

1- charpentiers grossiers travaillant dans les gros ouvrages, coarse carpenters working in large structures
2- huchers
3- huissiers, faiseurs de huis ou fenestres pour bonnes gens clore
4- tonneliers coopers
5- charrons wheelwrights
6- couvreurs de maisons roofers of homes
7- cochetiers, fabricants de voitures; faiseurs de nefs ou bateaux manufacturers of carriages, boats, or ships
8- tourneurs
9- lambrisseurs
10- et « toutes manières d’autres ouvriers qui euvrent du trenchant en merrien », c’est-à-dire qui travaillent le bois avec un 1 outil all other workers who , that is to say working wood withe one tool

At this point in time, the link to the corporation is still only conditional, but the statutes and ordinances make it effective, narrowing the freedom of the workers by focusing on the maîtrises et aux confréries, masters and brotherhoods. The role of the corporation was for mutual defense, to protect its members from fraud and it also united them to overcome the peasant farmer condition thus becoming les bourgeois des communes et des bones villes, middle class citizens of the towns and good cities. It was born out of a need for mutual defense and was formed before the town. Groups of men in the same profession, joined together with common interests, with simpler organization, were more stable and less susceptible to rival powers and the brutal justice of the seigneur lord. Workers had to submit to the articles of the corporation to which they belonged. Salary was set by the maîtrises, masters. Each member could only have 2 or 3 apprentices under his command and became in relation, maître de l’œuvre, master of the work. This is what we now call le compagnon, having with him one or more boys. These developments were tied very closely to the building of the cathedrals, which were massive undertakings and required a great amount of planning and organization. Ordinary means of art and industry alone, would never have been enough to create such magnificent wonders as the cathedrals. It is people’s intense faith in God, people of all ages and sexes, that motivated them to volunteer their money and labor to help with the monumental task. Their faith supplied the motivation to build their church, for the Glory of God.

December of 1290 Charles de Montigny, garde de la Prévôte created the status of Menuisier.

On December 31, 1371 , Hugh Aubriot , provost of Paris, made a declaration by which all other varlet ( workman, journeyman ) aspiring to become a master, were to produce a masterpiece and submit it to the maîtres de métier, master of the trade for acceptance. The journeymen brought their grievances to Parliament but the statute was upheld on 4 September, 1382. Mastery became a monopoly that quickly led to abuse. The new law, reduced the number or jurors to 4. Masters were allowed to take a second apprentice in their lineage, or that of their wives. The apprenticeship lasted 6 years.

In 1382 there was a royal decree that ordered the distinction between two different types of charpentiers, carpenters.

GO BACK AND READ / TRANSLATE Les artistes décorateurs du bois; répertoire alphabétique des ébénistes, menuisiers sculpteurs, doreurs sur bois, etc., ayant travaillé en France aux XVIIe et XVIIIe siècles (1912).pdf

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History of the term Menuiserie

The word Menuisier comes from the Vulgar Latin minutiare which is derived from minutia meaning smallness, fineness or minuteness.

Menuisé, meant- make slight, small, menial jobs (rendre menu, petit, menus travaux)


Le Menuisier, Carpenter



In the middle of the 17th century, the corporation des menuisiers welcomed a new class of artisan called “menuisier en ébène” and created the Jurande des Maîtres Ébénistes Bureau of Master Cabinetmakers.


That being said, before such organization and standardization as we see today, there were numerous other names being used. Christian Séguié describes a couple in his blog article L’histoire du nom de menuisier. Menuisiers were once called huchers which was a term for a the ancient French word huche, wooden chest or safe used to knead dough or store bread in.

Huch photo borrowed from

They were also called huissiers, bailiff, because the old word huis, door, which means door of a room, still remains in use for charpente à poutres et poteaux, post and beam carpentry as well as the type of menuisier, who make bays in doors of small apartments.



Learn More

“The artisans and guilds of France: beautiful craftsmanship through the centuries” by François Icher This book discusses many trades and the complex history of compagnonnage in France.

Les artistes décorateurs du bois; répertoire alphabétique des ébénistes, menuisiers sculpteurs, doreurs sur bois, etc., ayant travaillé en France aux XVIIe et XVIIIe siècles 1912 The Artist Decorators of Wood can be viewed or downloaded here from

Le Dictionnaire Pratique de Menuiserie – Ebénisterie – Charpente by J. Justin Storck in 1900 The entire dictionary viewable online

L’Art du Menuisier by Andre Jacob Roubo

The Anarchist Encyclopedia by Sébastien Faure This website contains the digital scan of this encyclopedia which was published in 1934. This entry contains information about the history of Menuisier.

Woodworking Tools 1600-1900 by Peter C. Welsh This project Gutenberg Ebook is available for free

Paris Furniture by the Master Ébénistes by Charles Packer

Wikipedia article on Menuiserie

Wikipedia article on Menuisier

Wikipedia article on Ébéniste

Wikipedia article on the History of Construction



Axe from Des principes de l'architecture, de la sculpture, de la peinture, et des autres arts qui en dépendent - avec un Dictionnaire des termes propres à chacun de ces arts - Félibien




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