|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|
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