Admired by King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, gilder Pierre Gouthière—the subject of a new exhibition at New York City’s Frick Collection—began working for the French court in 1767 as a master ciseleur-doreur (chaser-gilder) through the Menus-Plaisirs du Roi, an institution for the king’s collection of personal effects and entertainment. “Gouthière worked, or chased, brass objects such as window knobs, firedogs, and wall lights and then gilded them; and in his magical hands, these oftentimes practical items took on the appearance of finely worked gold," says exhibition curator Charlotte Vignon.
Copies and mistaken attributions of Gouthière’s work occurred during his career and continue today, but this exhibition showcases 21 objects that have been analyzed for authenticity, including a table he gilded on a commission from the Duchess of Mazarin. “We have reexamined the work and working methods of this great artist and, through provenance and technical study, present him anew—identifying for the first time those works that can be attributed to him with certainty—in this exhibition and the catalogue it accompanies,” Vignon says.
“Pierre Gouthière: Virtuoso Gilder at the French Court” runs through Feb. 19, 2017.