IN THE FRENCH MANNER: Christophe Pourny comes from a long line of artisans, and his new book, “The Furniture Bible: Everything You Need to Know to Identify, Restore and Care for Furniture,” with Jen Renzi, a foreword by Martha Stewart, photographs by James Wade and illustrations by Christophe Pourny (Artisan), tells you exactly how to do just those things. His father trained him in the family business of restoring antiques, and, after attending university, he apprenticed under his noted uncle, Pierre Madel, at his shop on the Rue Jacob in Paris. There he encountered the art dealers and artisans at the center of the city’s antiques trade.
Eventually, he moved to New York, where he set up his own business in Brooklyn, as he writes, “regilding Louis XVI bergères, refreshing the French polish of 18th-century dining tables, or working magic on timeworn star marquetry surfaces. Restoring rare antiques to their original condition in the same manner that my father instructed me back in Fayence became my life in New York.”
Pourny has launched his own group of tonics to care for furniture, which are available on his Web site, christophepourny.com. And now there’s this, his first book, which is enlivened by his illustrations, which include an amusing pictorial comparison between the furniture-leg styles of the Kings Louis XIII through XVI with the pant legs worn during each reign. There’s a glossary of chaise longues, with drawings showing each of the 17 styles — from causeuse to duchesse brisée. As he writes, “Leave it to the French to develop a full-blown taxonomy of different seating styles in the 18th century — one for every activity and every time of day.” There is a chart of common wood species, showing the wood, its color, characteristics, what it is seen on, used for and the recommended treatments for it. There are pages on veneer, marquetry and hardware, on waxing and hand lacquer and shellac. There are even instructions on how to make your own wax, fillers and French polish pads. It’s really everything you wanted to know about furniture but were afraid to ask.