BOOK REVIEW: Gouthière’s Candelabras

Gouthière’s Candelabras (Frick Diptych Series)

Charlotte Vignon and Edmund de Waal

UK£14.95 / US$19.95
Hardback ISBN 978-1-911282-47-1
D Giles Limited in association with The Frick Collection, New York, 2019


The combining of the contemporary artist and writer Edmund de Waal with the Frick’s Charlotte Vignon brings the tale of these candelabra to present day life. Two small white Meissen vases were mounted in late 18th century France by the remarkable chaser and gilder Pierre Gouthière and transformed into stunning candelabra that were originally purchased by the celebrated collector the duc d’Aumont.

It is a tale which considers the desire and wish for such objects in that 18th century period and then goes on to examine how that desire was turned into a reality that endures to the present time. It’s a great story beautifully told.

BOOK REVIEW: Pierre Gouthière: Virtuoso Gilder at the French Court

Pierre Gouthière: Virtuoso Gilder at the French Court


Christian Baulez and Charlotte Vignon. Contributions by Anne Forray-Carlier, Joseph Godla, Helen Jacobsen, Luisa Penalva and Emmanuel Sarméo

UK£54.95 / US$79.95
ISBN — 978-1-907804-61-8
Published by GILES in association with the Frick Collection


This is a wonderful book for anyone interested in 18th century French decorative arts and interiors. Published to accompany an exhibition – just closed at the Frick Museum but opening in Paris on March 16th – it is a detailed consideration of Gouthière’s work in every way.


The essays by leading experts and scholars reveal his life and work; the architects and designers for whom he worked for and the craftsmen he used for the production of the finished commissions. There is a fascinating section on techniques and skills used in the creation of these stunning mounts.  Indeed Gouthière is believed to have invented dorure au mat – a matt finish for which his work is noted. The last essay considers the appeal of Gouthière’s name to 19th century British collectors and how things were often wrongly attributed to him.


The last major work on Gouthière was published in 1912 and so this beautifully illustrated volume is extremely welcome, especially as it includes a catalogue raisonné of the forty-nine pieces that are definitely attributable to him. It’s interesting to note that he only once made furniture mounts and that was for a jewellery cabinet for Marie Antoinette which was sold after the French Revolution and most probably dismantled. I also hadn’t realised that he worked in silver-gilt on a dessert service and toilette set.


It is sad to think that Gouthière (1732-1813) never regained the popularity he enjoyed up until the French Revolution in his lifetime but this book allows us to fully understand and appreciate just quite how talented a man he was and what a stunning legacy he left for us to enjoy today. While I will probably not get to see the exhibition I am more than consoled by the fact that I have a copy of the book – possibly the next best thing to owning a Gouthière piece!

The authors: Charlotte Vignon is Curator of Decorative Arts at The Frick Collection, New York. Christian Baulez is an historian of French 18th-century decorative arts and architecture and former Chief Curator at the Château de Versailles. Anne Forray-Carlier is Chief Curator of 17th- and 18th-Century Decorative Arts at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris. Joseph Godla is Chief Conservator at The Frick Collection. Helen Jacobsen is Chief Curator at the Wallace Collection, London. Luisa Penalva is Curator of Gold, Silver, and Jewelry Collections at the Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga, Lisbon. Anna Saratowicz-Dudyńska is Curator of Silver and Bronze at the Royal Castle, Warsaw. Emmanuel Sarméo is an independent scholar.


Paris Exhibition: Or virtuose a la cour de France: Pierre Gouthière (1732-1813) will open at the Musée des Arts décoratifs,, 16th March – 25th June 2017.