The Plaques à Sabler, which was designed by Hugo Grygkar and first issued in 1956, is a very interesting carre. First off it is monochromatic. And then what are we really looking at?
Plaques à Sabler, literally translates as “sanding plates”. But what does that mean?
After a little research, I have learned that these were special metal plates and most likely used in stables to identify stalls reserved for the most senior officers of the cavalry or the army.
These metal plates had cutouts and were fitted with sturdy handles on the sides as can be seen in the scarf below.
Think of them as “negatives” of designs that were to be imprinted on the surface of the sand in the stalls.
After leveling the sand and compacting it, the plate was covered with colored powder in such a way that, once removed, the imprint or embossing would create a colorful decoration. Apparently different colors could be used to create the effect of a painting and the results were to be quite remarkable.
The plaques in this carre belonged to Joachim Murat, who was King of Naples under Napoleon Bonaparte.
The Plaques à Sabler carre features five such plates with four hunting scenes on each side and a huntsman on his horse in the center. The four stirrups in the corners are from the early nineteenth century.
Like so many objects, that were the inspiration for the early carres, and especially those designed by Monsieur Grygkar, these metal plaques or plates too are part of Émile Hermès’ famous art collection.
This is a very rare Hermes scarf, sought after by collectors and here believed to be the original issue as it lacks copyright and of course Hugo Grygkar never signed any of his carres. I have seen the issue date being stated as 1948 on other sites and in other resources, but the 1956 has been confirmed by the Maison Hermès.