Like Sarrancolin Fantastico marble, Sarrancolin Ilhet marble is extracted in the village of Sarrancolin, in the Hautes-Pyrénées department. The quarries were exploited extensively under the reign of Louis XIV, and from 1692 they were considered “royal quarries”. The Sarrancolin marbles feature all the red flame motifs but Sarrancolin Ihet marble features grey-brown facies also.
A number of exquisite antique fireplaces were made out of Sarrancolin Ilhet marble. For example the antique Regence style fireplace in the Oeil-de-boeuf antechamber in Versailles palace. Sarrancolin Ilhet marble was also used to make the manificient Louis XV style fireplace in the Cabinet of the Dispatches in Versailles Palace, as well as another beautiful Louis XV style fireplace in the salon d’Abondant in the Louvre museum.
This exceptional marble was also used to make the base of the statue of Louis XV made by Le Bernin and kept at Versailles Palace.
The Sarrancolin Ilhet quarries are found near to the villages of Sarrancolin, Ilhet, and Beyrede-Jumet in the Hautes-Pyrénées. It is a mixture of creams, yellows, pinks, greys, and greenish colours. Red veins and white calcites also cover the surface of this marble. The stone was originally extracted by the Romans for local use. The quarries were then closed and opened again during various periods. The Ilhet quarries were reopened during the 16th century where as the Beyrède quarries were not reopened until the 17th century.
From April 1686 to September 1689, forty blocs of Sarrancolin arrived in Paris to be used for the royal buildings of Louis XIV. In 1692, they were made “royal quarries” by Louis XIV.
During the 19th century, this marble was still being used, in particular to make thirty monolithic columns for the Palais Garnier (the opera house in Paris), built in 1887.
A prestigious example of a marble fireplace made out of Sarrancolin Ilhet marble can also be found in the great hall of the king’s appartments in Chateau d’Ecouen. This fireplace is also made up of Grand Antique marble.
J. Dubarry de Lasalle, Identification of marbles, Ed. H. Vial, Dourdan, 2000
J. Dubarry de Lasalle, The use of marbles, Ed. H. Vial, Dourdan, 2005
P. Julien, Marbres, From Quarries to Palaces, ed. Le Bec en l'air, Manosque, 2006
Marmi antichi, collective work, ed. De Luca, Rome, 1998