Shows & Events
Shows & Events

US outing for ancien régime metalworker’s opulent craft

Pierre Gouthière, gilt bronze swan on a Chinese porcelain pot-pourri vase (detail, around 1770-75) (Courtesy of the Musée du Louvre, Paris. Photo: RMN-Grand Palais/Art Resource NY)
Pierre Gouthière, gilt bronze swan on a Chinese porcelain pot-pourri vase (detail, around 1770-75) (Courtesy of the Musée du Louvre, Paris. Photo: RMN-Grand Palais/Art Resource NY)
If, as the art historian Aby Warburg claimed, God is in the details, then divinity should be found in Pierre Gouthière: Virtuoso Gilder at the French Court, which opens at the Frick Collection this month. Gouthière (1732-1813)—who is unknown, perhaps, to most audiences—was the metalworker who through the 1770s and 1780s supplied much of the incidental bits of French decorative art to Louis XVI and his court: chased bronze and gilt handles, supports, mounts and bases for hardstone, porcelain and ivory vases, clocks, wall lights, doorknobs, table legs and mantelpieces.

At the height of the fashion for “arabesque” Neoclassical craft, he was inundated with orders for his work, the sheer volume of which, by the 19th and 20th centuries, made it difficult to distinguish authentic works from copies. He unfortunately overreached and went bankrupt in 1787.

This exhibition of 21 masterpieces will make his name known to a wider public and refine its taste, and attempt to establish criteria for authenticity. A comprehensive book (to be reviewed in a future issue of The Art Newspaper) by a team of international scholars accompanies the show and is published in English by D. Giles and in French by Mare et Martin.

• Pierre Gouthière: Virtuoso Gilder at the French Court, Frick Collection, New York, 16 November-29 February 2017
Venue details
Frick Collection
1 East 70th Street
New York 10021
USA
www.frick.org
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