Rouge de Rance
is a red marble from the town of Rance in the province of Hainaut Belgium.
The red "marble" of Rance was very popular as a prestigious building material for decorative use. Although it has been exploited since Roman Antiquity it became most renowned since the 17th century because of its prolific use in the Royal Chateau of Versailles built for the French king Louis XIV. Large quantities were used for the most prestigious parts of the building, including the interior wall decoration of the "Galerie des Glaces" and the columns of the main portico on the "Cour des Marbres". To satisfy the vast demand needed for Versailles and other French royal residences a new quarry was opened and subsequently named "Trou de Versailles"
Since the 18th century "Rouge de Rance" was also very popular as a material for fireplaces and clocks, and as a top for furniture such as commodes.
The exploitation of the quarries in Rance stopped in the 1950s. A museum on Belgian Marbles was opened in Rance in 1979.
There is no doubt that giltwood furniture is an expression of grandeur and luxury. The golden hue of these pieces comes from the application of real gold leaf—a highly valued material both then and now. When it comes to buying antique giltwood furniture for your collection, there are many different considerations to keep in mind, many of which come down to personal preference.
Origins of Giltwood
The gilt gesso technique appeared in England at the end of the seventeenth century with the work of Jean Pelletier, a Huguenot craftsman who received royal patronage at Hampton Court and Kensington Palace. James Moore, a royal cabinetmaker working in the early eighteenth century, expanded on this technique with increased drama and exaggeration to the carving. Throughout the Georgian era in the eighteenth century, gilded furniture was highly prized as some of the finest furniture available as it emulated the ever popular taste for French style and décor.
Gesso is a type of plaster that is prepared of finely ground chalk, applied onto the wooden surface in a series of layers—at least fifteen layers were needed to achieve the desired thickness. Once dried, the craftsmen could cut into the new surface to create different designs. When the designs were complete, the gilding could be applied. To gild the surface, a red clay ground, known as bole, would be spread onto the surface to prepare for the laying of the gold leaf.