21 October 2007

Backstage at Versailles

left to right: moi, Laurent Hissier, Dr. Erling H. Wold II, Emily Swift-Jones, Daniel Sievert, Pierre LeFumat, and the hunk on the end is a carpenter named Alexandre
During our recent trip to Paris, evil twin Emily Swift-Jones,  Erling and I made a trip to the Palace of Versailles, to visit our friend Laurent Hissier, a talented artisan who works there painting and gilding.
Laurent met us at the side gate, waved us in, and then produced an impressive key from his pocket that opened ALL the doors. We got to see all those room upstairs where the public is not generally allowed.    And then -((squeal!!)) - he took us to the pop-up atelier where they were working, situated in a few giant
unused rooms in one wing of the palace.
The crew has been restoring a lot of furniture, and building and painting supports with eye-popping faux marbre to display the pieces, for a huge show of silver gilt furniture.   Just the supports were so beautifully painted as to be works of art themselves!

To make it even more exciting, Pierre LeFumat, the master himself, was working in this atelier, creating an amazing faux campan finish when we arrived.
We also met the charming master gilder, Daniel Sievert, who  has been working at the palace since he was 14 years old.   As you can imagine, a gilder will never run out of work to do at Versailles.

This was hands-down the highlight of my trip.

Merci Laurent for the hospitality, and to all the crew who stopped to visit with us.

"When Versailles was Furnished in Silver" runs
19 November 2007 to 9 March 2008

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