Historical precis extracts from the manuscripts of Christian Pingeon
CHRISTIAN PINGEON - MASTER EXPERT CABINETMAKER - PARIS
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With the Middle Ages and until the end of the sixteenth century, in the parts where the inhabitants live with their familiar animals, the grounds must be able to be washed with large water. Also the large arched rooms of the castles (room of the guards, rooms of the feasts or "large tinel"), are generally paved stone.
The wood floors are reserved for the estrades or footboards, placed under the chairs of honor, marks social status, under the beds, even under the seats and the tables of the winter feasts. They are often covered with a hairy carpet.
Then, gradually, the ground of the higher floors of the houses, into terra cotta squares, is transformed into floor.
Composed of juxtaposed boards with sharp joints or rabbets. Split with the width of 5 or 7 inches (1) the floors are fixed on the beams by apparent forged nails.
At the 16/17ème centuries, arrived the floor assembled by groove and strip with blades from 3 to 4 inches. It is posed "with English", i.e. that the blades are all lengths, the nails become invisible.
From the beginning of the seventeenth century, one starts to find blades of floor laid out according to various reasons:
- the floor in several spans, formed of floors from 5 to 6 feet length to the end of which one puts a plank in contrary direction (engraving "insane virgins of the Fair one in Paris, 1640, British Museum), - the floor at point of Hungary, fact of draw sheets from 3 to 4 feet length and 3 to 7 inches broad, its cut in end is made in mitre (45°). The width of each span is 25 to 34 inches, it are an odd number so that it is a joint in the medium of the part.
In the apartments for thermal and acoustic reasons, one prefers more and more the wood floors to which one gives the name of parquet floors when several boards are assembled between them to form a "sheet". (the word parquet floor coming from park, enclosure surrounding the estrade, from where justice went).
The floors of assembly or parquet floors are generally consisted sheets of parquet floor made up of slats of wood of oak, assemblies, waxed, which have from two feet (2) to four feet on side but that of three feet to three feet a quarter are most used, and of which the compartments are laid out, either with the square compared to the frame (known as today parquet floor of Chantilly), or in diagonal (known as today parquet floor of Versailles).
Their thickness varies from three quarters of inch to an inch and half and goes up to two inches for the very wet ground floors.
They are fixed on tie bars and are posed in diagonal. These tie bars are 5 for the large sheets and of 3 for the small ones. These tie bars always support the points of the sheets. They themselves are nailed on the beams, sometimes an additional under-floor is intercalated for more resistance.
Each sheet can be separated from its neighbor by a plank of framing known as "shuttle" (from 3 to 4 inches broad) or simply juxtaposed.
As for the general provision of the parquet floor, it is done in the two following ways: one is to put the sides of the sheets parallel with those of the part, the other is to put the diagonal parallel with the latter.
The unit which can comprise, or not, according to the case a plank on the circumference of the part, throughout the walls.
On the other hand, the "stone foyère" or in front of chimney, is always surrounded of a plank. For the parts of parade, or great quality, the sheets will be of a size relative to that of the part, making that one finds a number complete of sheets in each part, so that there are only sheets and folios, "what gives much magnificence and size to the apartment".
These parquet floors can also comprise a massive marquetry (called then parquet floor of marquetry or parquet floor in mosaic) composed of star reasons, for example, as with the castle of Houses. In this same castle there remains a parquet floor of wood marquetry of report/ratio, in the cabinet of the Mirrors.
Another invaluable wood parquet floor still existed there is little with the castle of Fléchères (Ain).
On an engraving of Abraham Bump representing the room of the King with Fontainebleau in 1645, one sees a parquet floor with square compartments decorated with initial royal crowned, alternating with large flowers of wood lily of report/ratio.
Nicodème Tessin writes in 1693: "A Trianon... the parquet floors touch with the skirtings. There is only one part in Versailles whose parquet floor is by squares... all the remainder is in rhombus with the new manner ".
Reserved on the small surfaces of the cabinets and the estrades, the parquet floors in mosaic are also employed in the alcoves, teaches us Gallant Mercury from 1673: "people of quality do not want any more a rug in their alcoves, because of the powder (dust) which they preserve, this is why, it make them parquet of wood of various colors".
Nothing remains of these sumptuous invaluable wood mosaics encrusted, work of Jean Macé (death in 1672), which decorated the estrades and certain floors of the cabinets of the Louvre (cabinet of the queen mother about 1665), of Tileries, Saint-Germain, Fontainebleau and Versailles. The parquet floor of the cabinet of the Medals is made by Pierre Poitou with the Goblins in 1685, those of the cabinets of the Dolphin are the work of Andre-Charles Boulle in 1683.
A portrait of the Large Cop (about 1660) in Chantilly (Jones Collection, Victoria and Albert Museum - London) and some rare drawings us reveal the chatoyant aspect of it, like that of the Small Gallery of Versailles (1686) work of Alexandre Jean Oppenhordt (B.N. Estampes).
However a simpler example is still preserved in the gilded cabinet of the hotel of Brancas in Paris. Perhaps a fragment of a royal estrade in marquetry of scale and copper was employed again by Etienne Levasseur (1721-1800) in a secretary pertaining to the Queen of England.
At the eighteenth century, as at the previous century the floors of the apartments are consisted panels of square parquet floors of wood assembly of waxed oak, whose compartments are posed either with the square, or in diagonal, with or without plank.
Geometrical drawings can vary from it the aspect, the such parquet floor of the hemicycle of the Room of the Council with Fontainebleau, decorated of a star by Gabriel. In general, the parquet floors waxed and gleaming remain naked, without carpet. They are maintained by the essential wipers.
With the Choiseul hotel in Paris, there were parquet floors of wood mosaic of report/ratio, as one can see it on the gouaches of Henri Van Blarenberghe (1734-1812) decorating the "Choiseul box". In addition, it seems that with the hotel of Soubise, the oval living rooms had "wood parquet floors varied with very clever ornaments and compartments". It is known that workshops in the mobility of the cabinetmaker Hache wire in Grenoble, still produced sheets of parquet floors made up of different drink towards the end of the eighteenth century.
In the stages reserved for the service, the ground of the rooms and corridors are furnished with terra cotta squares (tommettes) with six sides of four inches (10.8 cm) which one waxes.
(1) 1 French inch = 27,0696 mm
(2) 1 foot = 12 inches = 324,835 mm
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