After 18 months of work, the King’s Corner Room has finally been revealed. Masterpiece of rococo art, Louis XV’s study and the furniture inside it, have been fully restored thanks to the patronage of Rolex France. Stéphane Masi, Project Coordinator, answers our questions and talks about the campaign that restored this luxurious room in the King’s Private Apartments to its former glory.
What were the main stages of the restoration campaign?
The restoration campaign comprised nine stages. We first carried out a meticulous inspection of the condition of the decoration before removing all the wood panelling. We then straightened any deformed panels. During the third stage, we examined the archaeological evidence in the successive layers of paint, of which the stratigraphic analysis revealed the different shades of “king’s white” that had covered the woodwork and accentuated the gilding on the sculptures at different periods. After restoring the woodwork, we reassembled it on site which was an extremely delicate task. The fifth stage, which addressed the paintwork, aimed to protect and restore all the old water gilding, called distemper*, on the sculptures and mouldings. The sixth stage consisted in accentuating* the panels with three coats of warm Meudon white primer*, onto which we applied two layers of Blanc de Roi distemper with a glue binder. We then worked on restoring the old Versailles floor, which was taken up to allow full or partial replacement of the damaged planks with new oak ones where necessary, before reassembling them all in their original positions. The penultimate stage concerned the restoration and treatment of the 1737 griotte marble* fireplace. Lastly, the final stage involved restoring the locks on the doors and the bronze decor around the fireplace in order to preserve as much of the old mercury gilding as possible.
Do you have a favourite memory from the restoration project?
My favourite memory is the “archaeological” inspection with Frédéric Didier, Head Architect for Historic Monuments, and Yves Carlier, General Curator and Deputy Director of the Museum of the Palace of Versailles for Furniture, to identify signs of the original positions of paintings fixed directly to the panelling during the reigns of Louis XV and Louis XVI. This operation revealed a large number of holes, testifying to the many “souvenirs” with which Louis XVI wanted to surround himself in his study.
How did the patronage of Rolex France benefit the restoration of the King’s Corner Room?
Rolex France contributes to promoting excellence in artistic professions across the world and upholds an unfailing commitment to beauty, creativity and durability.
- stratigraphic analysis: an archaeological process that consists in examining the nature and composition of successive layers of a surface covering to define the order of the layers and thus determine a relative age.
- distemper: a paint made with water and glue or gum binder.
- accentuate: this operation aims to bring out a moulding or an ornament against a background, especially through the use of contrasting colours.
- primer: a preparatory coat applied to a surface to be painted.
- griotte marble: a type of marble characterised by rounded red or brown marks.