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Hand-Gilded Brass

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New York
M.E. Dupont specializes in ormolu, the 17th-century process of hand-gilding brass. The most popular pieces are licensed reproductions of original chandeliers, lamps, and sconces found in the palaces at Versailles, Fontainebleau, and La Malmaison, among others. What makes this work unique is the high degree of handcrafting that goes into each piece. After an initial sand-casting process, each rough, solid brass segment is extensively hand-chiseled—a skill so rare that the tools must be made by Dupont's own 20-artisan team in Paris, since they are no longer manufactured. The piece is then coated with an amalgam of gold and mercury, from which the mercury is subsequently evaporated. The resulting gilt is then worked into a lustrous matte finish with finely polished accents, as in the 41-inch-tall sconce Orangerie ($25,000). The degree of patination varies, as the artisans stay true to the style and production method of the given period. Models range from an 11-foot-tall chandelier to a 12,000-piece collection of decorative hardware, the least expensive pieces starting at $10. Clients include several royal families from Asia and the recently renovated New York Public Library. Custom requests are welcome. $10-$80,000. To the trade only. 200 Lexington Avenue, Suite 433; 212-679-3106; fax 212-679-3217.


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