Design & Decoration S01 ep14: Patrick Perrin, Perrin Antiques, [Paris]

Interview with Patrick Perrin

A Rembrandt is not a piece of art anymore, it's an investment product. The people that are buying impressionists paintings are not collectors. When you pay 50 million dollars for a Picasso what do you buy? A painting? Or an investment product? Do you buy pleasure for 50 million dollars?



KM: What is Jacque Perrin?

It is a company that has existed for four generations now, since the end of the
19th century and we specialise in 18th century furniture.

This cabinet is made by Dupuson which is quite a very famous cabinetmaker
of the Louis 16th period. It is also coming from the Wallace collection.

KM: How do you find pieces in good condition?

Restoration on those pieces is very simple. On a marquetry piece for example,
you just take off all the marquetry because the glue has dried and is like little

KM: This is the fish bone glue?

Yes, exactly, you put it back and you revarnish. And like this all the
transparency and all the quality of the work comes out.

The clock on top is Louis 16th also in ormolu and movement is signed by Gudin
who is a very famous clockmaker.

Henry Dunay Jewellery

KM: Why are you here?

Because we had been bicycling in the galleries when we were small children
and we used to bump into the consoles you know, and when we were getting

KM: Your father must have been very happy to see you bicycling amongst all

Yes, absolutely. It is a passion, we are the fourth generation, my brother and
me and it is perfectly natural - we never thought of doing anything else.

This piece is of Louis 14 period around 1700 - 1705 and it is in copper, ebony,
gilded wood and ormolu and it is what you call "Coffret Marriage" on a stand.
Coffret Marriage means a wedding box.

KM: What are some of the most things or pieces that you have managed to
somehow have for a brief period of time?

We have been selling for example the Biviarbi Beaureu de Dan, which
belonged to Marie Antionette; it is now back in Versaille. We have sold pieces
made by DeLa Forse which are now in the Getti [museum], the list is very

This is a fire screen of Louis16th period and very remarkable example of
woodcarving and typical of the firescreens you can find in Versailles.


Henry Dunay Jewellery

We were in Argentina not long ago, and my grandfather had sold a lot of things
to a very important family there, and we have been collecting for a few
generations, so there were some things that we didn't know. And there were
some Royal Providence things that have been brought back to France.

Mahogony desk of Louis16th period sgned by Duric, who was working with
Riessner with very unusual - it has 8 feet with a single draw.

KM: Does your father still actively work in the business?

Yes absolutely

KM: Is he the encyclopaedia when you get stuck?


KM: I was going to ask you also, I noticed that in the pieces that I have seen
so far in the store, most of them are in immaculate condition, do you make
sure that the pieces are totally and utterly restored before bringing them into
the gallery?

Most of the time yes,

KM: Some people don't like that, some people like things to be exactly as they


Henry Dunay Jewellery

KM: You don't feel that is the way to show people....

I don't think that the real collectors now think that way, because when it not
well restored you loose piece of marquetry, the bronzes don't have the gilding
they had at the time they were made, and let us say that a pair of sconces
today, 99% of the sconces have been regilded 20 times since the 18th century
just because the candles were dripping on the bronze and removing the
gilding. So if you go to a dealer and tells you that a pair of Fire Doors have not
been regilded or that a pair of candle sticks have not been regilded unless they
are totally not gilded it is not true. Regilding is a perfect restoration.

Beautiful desk by Soniq, Royal quality.

KM: What is the concept of art? What is it?

Only beauty and pleasure and money have nothing to do it. You can have
pleasure with a piece that costs 500 Francs, and at 5 million Francs.

KM: But how do you know that piece is art? What is that thing that makes it

Creation, only creation.

Henry Dunay Jewellery

KM: So you are saying.....

Something different from what the others have been doing. The first one that
created a Louis 16 desk in mahogany in the model of Reissner for example,
when Reissner created his first flat desk, that is a real creation and that is art.
If you take the same piece made by Moreau or Avrill or one of those little
cabinet makers that is not longer art, that is decorative art.

I don't know ten nice houses in the world.

KM: You don't know ten nice houses?

Ten nice houses in the world.

KM: Really?

With refined people, with cultured, with beautiful pieces of art, with good taste
in the decoration...

KM: You don't know, or...

I don't know! And I have been to a few houses.

KM: Is it that ah.....

Yes that difficult.

OFFICIAL WEBSITE: Patrick Perrin, Perrin Antiques, Paris