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Giltwood greyhounds unleashed

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King Louis XIV used gilded furniture and frames to flaunt his wealth in 18th-century France

A pair of 19th-century Italian carved giltwood dumb-waiter greyhounds, standing almost a metre high, are among the highlights of the Cannon’s Auctioneers sale of collectables, antiques and art in Hilton on March 26 at 9am.

Giltwood is wood that has been gilded, usually through the application of gold leaf on to a layer of gesso (a mixture of chalk or plaster of Paris used as a base for gilded decoration on wooden frames and furniture from the Middle Ages). The purpose of gilding is to give the appearance of solid gold, a practice that began over 4000 years ago in north Africa.

Paintings from Egyptian tombs show workers pounding gold into thin sheets to apply to pieces of furniture and coffins. The Greeks applied gilding to statues and gilding techniques have continued to be used in Europe, South America, Spain, Britain and the US.

During the 18th-century, Louis XIV of France flaunted his wealth with gilded furnishings, framed artwork and architectural detailing, making France as a leader in the decorative arts.

Wooden furniture, candlesticks, picture frames and mirror frames are some of the items given the gilded treatment. Some giltwood antiques are extremely valuable.

Noelene Cannon says the pair of seated, yet alert, greyhounds, with storage trays mounted on their heads, have been consigned by a private collector who has spent her life buying and selling antiques and is now elderly and in frailcare. Cannon’s has put a presale estimate of between R6000 and R10000 on this unusual pair of hounds that could be categorised as both furniture and collectables.

Apart from artificial gold, there are several interesting silver items on offer, including a pair of David Andersen Norwegian sterling silver polar bear shakers, an 1818 George III Irish silver gravy straining spoon and a pair of Scottish silver gravy boats.

Also catalogued is a beautiful assortment of silver jewellery, investment art pieces plus many items of furniture.

Viewing is now on for Tuesday’s sale at the Cannon premises at Shop 50, Lower Quarry, Lifestyle Centre in Hilton.

Visit, email or phone 033 343 3366.


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