Fig Leaf

The monumental fig-leaf encrusted doors open to reveal a bronze tree arching up and outward against the background of a peaceful landscape in silk. Each wardrobe requires 616 hand-painted enamel leaves, the largest project of its kind in history. The leaves are painted on both sides, based on an artist’s original watercolour for each of the ten basic shapes. A special method of supporting them, so that no clamp marks were present, had to be developed. The overall size of the larger leaves as well as the enormous surface area to be painted, was originally thought to be impossible to enamel. The enamel is hand painted by a few of the finest enamel painters still working in England. Each leaf is signed on the underside, numbered and recorded in the archives of the production of the Fig Leaf wardrobe.

The glass leaves are uniquely hung on a complicated tangle of hand-formed supporting vines. The tracery structure was created by Atelier de Forge, a traditional iron foundry in rural France. Inside grows a life-like bronze tree which was cast using the lost-wax process and created by Patrick Blanchard, head of sculpture at the École Boulle, Paris. The wardrobe has eight designed and matching bronze hangers. The patination of the bronze was overseen by Chevillard, a specialist in metals founded in 1850, who gave a deep patina reminiscent of a Rodin sculpture.

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