Dating back to the period of Louis XIV (mid- to late-1600’s), these scrolled forged iron gates with bronze dore embellishments were crafted in the French section of Basque Country. Le Pays Basque, as it is known in France, is a collection of regions inhabited by the Basque people, incorporating parts of Spain and France. This highly worked pair of gates, known as “portillons” , were a type of small and decorative barrier which can be found at the entrance to a house or a park. Another well known use for this type of low gate, was to provide a decorative surround for an altar. The iron gates seen here most likely came from the altar of a church in Navarre, which is mostly in Spain, but extends into the southwest portion of France (see altar photo example).
Each side of the gate features a crest comprised of two C-scrolls banded by a geometric bronze protuberance. Identical bronze flourishes are also seen on the main body of the gate, with 11 bands in total, although the left side gate has a missing band (which does not affect the structure). The main bodies consist of volutes with long tails affixed to C-scrolls. Some of the hardware is still intact, including a pair of latches at the bottom of the back sides and four gudgeons for pintle hinges.
These 17th century Basque Country gates originally had black paint on the forged iron. Areas of the paint have worn, leading to an oxidized patina that is truly unique. The gates most likely were used as altar railing doors in a Basque church, as they are less than 37 inches tall. Today, they can be used as a unique entrance gate to a small interior room, a garden gate, or even repurposed into a fireplace screen.
CONDITION: Good antique condition, with minor age separations and oxidation, commensurate with age and use. There are some visible old repairs and a missing bronze band from the center of the left gate. Please see photos for details.