H: 0.78 m L: 2.80 m W: 1.05 m

This exceptional rectangular table stands on two marble legs in the form of inverted consoles.

The legs rest on a plinth. The scrolls on the lower part end in an acanthus leaf followed by fleurons, and from the scroll on the upper part, a bracket-like clasp.

Seen from the front, the legs are entirely moulded. On either side of the scroll are carved a lotus leaf and fleurons. The low scroll crashes down onto a stylised leaf that ends up on the plinth.

The edge of the shelf is underlined by two mouldings followed by a spout and an upside down cavet.

The Rance marble

Originating in Belgium's Hainaut region, the supply of "Flemish" marble at the end of the 17th century was a real tour de force in a landscape torn apart by war. Versailles, known as a building of French and Italian marble, was above all the playground of marble workers from Flanders. Unfortunately, there are almost no records on the history of the supply of marble from Flanders, whereas there are many records on the supply of marble from the Pyrenees and Languedoc. The first generation of the king's marble workers from Hainaut (Jean Le Grue, Jérôme Derbais, Hubert Misson and the eight Deschamps brothers are known for the Rance trade they conducted with Derbais and Misson) used their imagination to transport these marbles, and in particular the Rance marble, to provide for the castle's decorations. It seems that one of the first deliveries made by Misson and LeGrue was that of the six columns for the baldachin of the Val-de-Grâce in 1664.

Of all the Flemish marbles, Rance marble was undoubtedly the most widely used by the King, and it was shipped in very large quantities. Rance was used in all the major projects between 1670 and 1690: in the marble courtyard and in the pavilions of the bosquet des dômes on the outside, in the bathing flat built between 1671 and 1680, in the salons de la paix et de la guerre, in the ambassadors' staircase built between 1672 and 1679, in the pilasters of the Hall of Mirrors, and in the fireplace in the Salon de Diane, on the inside.

"Jaspé" for Mademoiselle de Scudéry, "white & red brown with white, ashy & blue veins" for Dezallier d'Argenville, Rance marble was thus one of the main ornaments of the Sun King's great flats.

Marble tables in the groves

At the same time as Versailles, Le Nôtre created equally magical gardens at the Château de Chantilly and at Marly, and Dangeau's diary shows the sovereign's interest in this art by sometimes walking all day in the gardens of Trianon and Marly. The latter had been described by Louis XIV as the castle for his friends, whereas Versailles had been designed for the Court and Trianon for his family.

He wanted "nothing to be lacking in everything that can entertain the courtiers", and to this end he increased the number of entertainments in the gardens.

A round marble table can be seen in the grove of the "vestibule of the table" (see photo). It allowed guests to play "table games" such as tric-trac or chess. The same was true of the Psyche grove.

At the ends of the two green rooms facing each other are placed carpentry benches in front of which is placed a white marble table with cut sides 7 feet long (2.26m). These two tables were commissioned in 1707 from Solignon and described as follows: "the eight white marble legs in double consolles decorated with architecture and carved 2 ½ feet high (0.80m) including the base by 17 inches wide". Having failed to obtain royal favour, these tables were put back in the shops.

In the same year, Solignon and Montéant sculpted sixteen other legs, including the eight with double brackets decorated with sculptures necessary for these two tables which were finally installed in the grove and remained there until the Revolution.

On 23 June 1701, Louis XIV inaugurated a small pavilion in the Children's Grove (see photo). It was built in eight days and featured three green-painted carpentry benches with gold filleting surrounding a Campan green marble table on three white marble legs sculpted by Jacques Rousseau and "pierced by day". On 12 June 1702, the King asked for "wooden covers for all the marble tables in the garden to cover them during His Majesty's absences and during the hyvers".

After the châteaux of Marly and Versailles, we know that a series of tables was delivered by the king's marble maker, Jean Cuvillier, in 1705. They adorned the low parterre of the Grand Trianon and the legs were sculpted by Montéan and Harmand

The marble workers

Marble expenditure was considerable during the reign of Louis XIV, amounting to millions of pounds. To work this noble material, an administration was set up, dependent on the King's Buildings, under the supervision of a superintendent (the Duke of Antin) and the control of marble was ensured until 1730 by Claude-Félix Tarlé.

The marble workers working for the crown were called marble workers of the king, ordinary marble workers of the king or marble workers of the king's buildings.

Between 1661 and 1717, nine marble makers for the king are listed: Pierre Ménard, Mathieu and Hubert Misson, Jean and François Cuvillier, François Deschamps, Claude-Félix Tarlé, Antoine Cuvillier and Pierre Lisquy.

We find in the archives a certain number of craftsmen such as Dezègre, Pasquier, Ménard, etc.... playing a very important role from the extraction of the marble in the quarry to the building site to which it is attributed. In the inventory after Jean Cuvillier's death on 20 April 1703, mention is made of "a slice of Rance marble six feet four inches long by two feet four inches wide and two inches thick, valued at twenty-eight pounds".

Rance's shipping books at the end of the 18th century give us a very good overview of the shipments. Most of them were destined for Paris and for the most part to marble makers, almost all of whom were established in the Bonne Nouvelle district, and more particularly in the rue Poissonnière, from the end of the 17th century.


Political role, celebration of the monarchy, theatre of the daily walk, the gardens are also a space of representation for the extraordinary festivals like "the pleasures of the enchanted isle" in 1664 or a decoration for the ballets. Let us not forget that Louis XIV, a skilled dancer, had himself written a booklet on how to show the gardens of Versailles and that he gave very precise orders as to the order of the plantations and the decoration of the groves. They were the preferred place to serve snacks, as was the case in the bosquet de l'Etoile during the "grand divertissement royal" in July 1668, an event engraved by Le Pautre.

This very expensive production of marble tables seems to be specific to the Louis XIV period and this table is part of the deliveries for the bosquets of Versailles or Marly. As we have seen previously, the descriptions are not precise enough to identify the exact location of the table.

The table in the Hunting Museum proves that this type of furniture was made in several copies to decorate the same grove.

Two white marble tables were visible at the beginning of the 20th century in the Grand Trianon (see photo), after having been installed in the gardens of the Pavillon de La Lanterne, they have now returned to the gardens of the Château de Versailles.

Former Cécile Sorel collection in her flat on Quai Voltaire. In an article in L'Illustration by Jacques de Baschet, it is said that "the table comes from the Palais de Trianon, removed from the vestibule where two other similar tables still stood at the time of the looting during the Revolution, no doubt". (see photo)

Finally, a table identical to ours is kept in the Musée de la chasse - Hôtel de Guénégaud - Paris - Former Sommer collection (see photo)