François Gilles – Ornamentalist

Bourgogne-Franche-Comté – 1995


François Gilles is a researcher and an ornementalist. He studied at École Normale Supérieure of Cachan and at Ecole Boulle, both located in France. During his studies, he earned the recognition Meilleur Apprenti de France. François Gilles seeks “the beginning of perfection in his art!”


As part of the end of his training, he restored a Rousseau de la Rottière’s masterpiece. This project was congratulated and addressed at the 2016 MAD Symposium, under the theme of “Sculpture at the end of the 17th Century: Rediscovery of a masterpiece by Rousseau de la Rottière.


Today, François Gilles works in his workshop in Yonne in France.


Research and innovation

According to François Gilles, the work of an ornamental sculptor is rigorous. This aspect is intrinsic to the job’s techniques and sensibility. It brings precision and François Gilles aspires to work with it. Academic and emotional strength bring a certain liberty to study all schools of sculpture, down to a purely graphic approach.


In this respect, François Gilles quotes Diderot who mentionned a tension between mechanical art and liberal art. The tension that the craftsman sets out to resolve. That cannot be done without a heightened awareness of historical and theories concerns about sculpture that say there is no creation from scratch.


This approach, started by Xavier Bonnet and Pierre Ramond, is the only guarantee of quality in the eye of the restorer of objects from the past. But according to François Gilles, it is also the opportunity for art to be refreshed and progress.

Will to transmit

François is completely invested in the transmission of his savoir-faire. He welcomes each year apprentices in his workshop in order to teach them the techniques and knowledge related to his savoir-faire. Moreover, he is a teacher at Ecole Normale Supérieure de Cachan (France) and a speaker in Art History. Furthermore, he volunteers at Musée des Arts Décoratifs with Anne Forray-Carlier, the museum curator specialized in Middle Ages and Renaissance. Finally, he started a thesis in art histoy about the woodwork collection at Musée des Arts Décoratifs of Paris.


Fondation Rémy Cointreau has helped François Gilles acquire a band saw and a radial saw, enabling him to work more independently.


Wilfrid Jolly – Coppersmith and designer


Sandrine Raffin – Bow maker