pre 1800 FURNITURE
MARRIAGE AT THE TIME OF PISANELLO
The usual keeping furniture in the Middle Ages was the coffer.
In the fifteenth century in Italy, the coffer becomes a work of art. The cassone is a marriage chest offered to the bride in order to keep her kit and dowry. The finest of these ceremonial furniture are painted.
On October 13 in Florence, Sotheby's sells a cassone whose front panel, 68 x 163 cm, is painted of a wedding scene. The newly weds are shown twice, left and right, with a background of flowered garden. In the center a rather confused heraldic motif identifies the owners as an aristocratic family from Milan.
The artistic language of this painting is a close imitation of Pisanello. The high forehead of the bride, the precision of the clothing and the floral motif are reminiscent of the famous portrait of the Princess of Este kept by the Louvre. Pictorial fashions already changed often at that time, and we can assume that our cassone is contemporary of this artist who died circa 1455.
This important piece is part of the Italian cultural heritage, and not allowed to leave that country. Perhaps for this reason, the lower estimate is reasonable: 300 K €. The high estimate, 500 K €, is probably closer to the price that the lot could have on the international market.
The cassone had a large role in the evolution of secular art with a special novelty which was exciting at that time: the inner panel of the cabinet was sometimes illustrated with a nude scene. This is not the case with the specimen that we discussed above.
1596-1599 The Last Table of the Duke of Urbino
2010 SOLD 937 K£ including premium
The Italian princes of the end of the Renaissance had not necessarily an easy or happy life. Francesco Maria della Rovere was the last Duke of Urbino. Having failed to ensure his lineage, which is the supreme shame for a monarch, he had to bequeath his duchy to the Papal States.
He had a granddaughter, who inherited his furniture and his regrets.
The small center table for sale at Sotheby's in London on July 6 is perfectly proportioned, 83 cm high with a top 133 x 83 cm, according to those models of antique furniture which were made for transporting from castle to castle. It is in rosewood, with the top and trestles artistically ivory inlaid by patterns of branches and leaves of oak, the emblem of the ducal family.
This princely piece executed between 1596 and 1599 is estimated between £ 500K and £ 1M. This estimate is very open, a feature that often accompanies the rarest. Experience shows that this does not mean that they are easy to sell.
POST SALE COMMENT
Very good result, 937 K £ including premium, for this precious little furniture from an Italian palazzo. It has not reached its high estimate, but the result was not a foregone conclusion.
The image of the top was shared just before the sale by AuctionPublicity.
1620 pietre dure for borghese
2016 SOLD for € 2.5M including premium
Around the same time the luxury furniture is the stipo, a tall architected cabinet in several registers abundantly adorned with columns, caryatids and figures. The walls are inlaid with stones and the numerous small statues are made in gilded bronze. An early Roman example is linked to Pope Sixtus V who died in 1590.
Paul V Borghese became Pope in 1601. He was a great builder who notably financed the completion of the facade of St Peter's Basilica and the Pauline Chapel at St. Mary Major. Style similarities with the stipi are obvious as the furniture is designed like a smaller version of a monument.
Romans and Florentines compete to attract to their workshops the most beautiful stones collected by the travelers. The top of the Grimani table, 150 x 112 x 6 cm, is made in Florence around that time. This piece of furniture was sold for £ 3.5M including premium by Sotheby's on December 10, 2015.
On September 20 in Paris, Sotheby's in association with Leclère sells as lot 56 a Roman cabinet made around 1620 bearing the coat of arms of Paul V. This piece of furniture 178 cm high culminates with the standing figure of a Roman emperor, certainly Tiberius, reminding that the Tuscan born Borghese were fearing to be considered as foreigners by the Roman aristocracy.
It is one of very few examples of stipi whose inlays use only pietre dure without any marble, constituting some peak in terms of technical achievement, cost and luxury. It has been mounted on a console between its release from the Borghese collections in 1821 and its incoming in 1827 into the British Royal collections where it remained until 1959.
The Borghese were great users of such stipi adorned with pietre dure. A pair made around the same time as the papal cabinet was sold for £ 1,27M including premium by Sotheby's on July 8, 2015.
1650 a chair in oak boiserie
2018 sold for $ 375k including premium
The wainscot armchair is a model of oak seat with well-defined features : arms, turned front legs, square sectioned rear legs, low spacers on all four sides, no upholstering. The high backrest surmounted by a crest and the perimeter of the seat are chiseled with a density that reaches extravagance.
Puritan pioneers settling in New England spontaneously reconstitute their previous ways of life. Notables want to luxuriously furnish their main room and use the skills of craftsmen who had emigrated with them.
On January 20 in New York, Sotheby's sells a wainscot armchair from colonial America, lot 723 estimated over $ 300K. Realized around 1650, it belonged successively to only two families, Mansfield in New Haven during its first century and Merriam thereafter. Richard Mansfield, coming from Exeter, was a founder of the New Haven Colony in 1639.
It is a beautiful seat in its category whose contour of the wood pieces has remained simple. Under various layers added over time, the analyzes identified traces of the original pigment in pale Prussian blue.
The chiseled patterns of its backrest are also present in the panels of two chests that are obviously by the same hand. A former ship carpenter named Lawrence Ward was established around 1650 as a joiner and turner in New Haven. He will transfer his business to Newark when this city will be founded by Puritans from New Haven in 1666.
The Mansfield-Merriam family Pilgrim-century black-painted, joined, and carved oak wainscot armchair, made in the New Haven Colony, circa 1650 is estimated to sell for $300,000/500,000 at @Sothebys https://t.co/3BpgTNgq7R #antiques #auction #art #NewHaven #Connecticut #antique pic.twitter.com/GlS3LyfvHk— Maine Antique Digest (@AntiqueDigest) December 27, 2017
1660 A florentine cabinet in augsburg
2014 sold for £ 480k including premium
On December 5 in London, Bonhams sells an ebony cabinet made in Augsburg, lot 20 estimated £ 400K.
This architectural shaped piece of furniture was designed as a table top. Its proportions are perfect: 85 cm in height and width, 40 cm in depth. With more than 40 drawers and compartments, it is a Kunstkammer conceived to store a collection of curiosities. The secret compartments are so cleverly hidden that some of them may still have to be rediscovered.
The luxury of materials and the details of the decorations are exceptional. Plaques in pietre dure certainly come from the Galleria dei Lavori which was the Ducal Florentine workshop. The woods for the veneers are carefully selected and lapis lazuli is also used. Silver is rarer than usual : the risk of oxidation was an excuse to overcome its shortage following the Thirty Years War.
The furniture is signed, which is rare at that time. It is a masterpiece made around 1660 by the master Elias Boscher who was registered with the League of cabinetmakers in Augsburg from circa 1629 and died after 1664.
Preserved from 1841 to 2006 in a mansion of the Irish aristocracy, this Kunstkammer is in great condition.
1670 TRANSITION RENAISSANCE-LOUIS XIV
2008 SOLD 360 K€ INCLUDING PREMIUM, UNPAID
RELISTED IN 2009
In terms of furniture, the name of époque Louis XIV is mostly applied to the later years of his reign. The cabinet d'apparat (luxury cabinet) which I am discussing now, dated to 1670-1680, is earlier to that refined period.
In its general look it is a Renaissance furniture, heavily decorated. The cabinet proper is nicely decorated with a marquetry of flowers, but it is mounted on six legs made of golden wooden caryatids that seem incongruous for a piece of furniture.
Overall, this cabinet is important: 188 x 134 x 54 cm. It is attributed to Pierre Gole, one of the few cabinet makers of that era whose name has survived (or rather has been raised, because we can not find it in dictionaries somenow ancient ...).
For once, I can give you the price before the sale: Néret-Minet et Tessier auctioned it at 305 K € hammer price (360 K € fees included) on 21 November salle Drouot in Paris. It is coming back to the same place on January 20,presented by the same auction house after the buyer failed to pay.
Under French law, this first buyer must pay the difference between the first and the second auction, which gives him no right of ownership over the piece, of course.
I can not guarantee that I will be able to find the result of January 20.
POST 2009 SALE COMMENT
That is what I had anticipated. I did not find the result on the web. It is a normal situation for a second presentation.
We shall, therefore, stay with the result of last year: 305 K € excluding fees on an estimate between 200 and 300 K €.
1670s french luxury in chinese taste
Its main innovation is the abundance of drawers protected behind vantaux (doors), sometimes in a complex architecture that allows secret drawers. The cabinet is designed as a table top, often equipped with its own base. The commode, whose drawers go much lower to the floor, is not yet invented.
Throughout Europe, the designers are using all possible imaging techniques: direct carving of ebony, painted panels in Flanders, pietre dure in Italy and varnishes imitating Chinese lacquer. Artists are traveling, and this new art becomes international. Colbert's reforms attract in Paris the best European cabinetmakers.
On June 7 at château d'Artigny near Tours, Rouillac sells a lacquered cabinet, lot 52 estimated € 1M. Here is the link to the auction house's website. This piece is mounted on its base made of gilded caryatid terms according to the fashion in Paris in the 1670s. The overall height is 198 cm.
Its lacquer is European, but it is illustrating the Taoist theme of the fable of the prince and the bird which was not yet translated into French, suggesting that the artist worked from an original Chinese model. The animals are related to the iconography of the period inspired by the royal menagerie at Versailles.
This piece of furniture resurfaced in Porto a few years ago. It had probably been presented by the French monarchy to the court of Portugal whose queen at that time was a French princess.
The cabinetmaker is not identified. A cabinet of the same decade executed by Cucci at the Gobelins was sold for £ 4.5 million including premium by Christie's on December 10, 2009.
1705-1715 invention of the commode
2015 sold for € 1.2M including premium
The flat desk allows the installation of wide drawers. It is a success. The drawers were soon adapted into the coffres in the form of small cabinets mounted on high legs. This furniture in turn becomes wider and lower with larger drawers in a strict vertical alignment.
The novelty is so ahead of its time that the name is hard to coin. Named table en bureau in the 1690s, it becomes in 1705 the bureau en commode characterizing its practical use (commode meaning convenient) and simply the commode from about 1708.
Boulle experimented the shapes for his new type of furniture. A commode en tambour (drum shaped dresser) 89 x 126 x 54 cm executed between 1705 and 1715 is estimated € 800K for sale by Sotheby's in Paris on November 5, lot 305.
Its oval design is ephemeral. It is too complicated with its two groups of three feet each at the ends and its detached montants en fuseaux. It is soon superseded by a simpler rectangular design which will remain the ideal storage furniture throughout the eighteenth century and beyond.
The commode for sale is richly decorated in contre-partie in copper, tortoiseshell, pewter and ebony. It has been improved and consolidated in the 1770s by Etienne Levasseur who stamped it. Like many French luxury furniture from that time, it was an element in a pair and its twin in première partie is also known.
1713 Baroque Cabinets in Antwerp
Each piece is composed of a cabinet decorated in première partie, over a base of caryatids in gilded wood, for a total height of 2.40 m. This première partie is in marquetry of brass and pewter on tortoiseshell. Its superabundant decoration is in honor of King Philip V of Spain and his battles. His PV monogram is inscribed in several places.
The pair in contre partie, decorated in tortoiseshell on metal, is also identified. It was separated in 1944. One of these cabinets was sold for £ 890K including premium by Sotheby's on October 30, 2002. Its illustration is as always less sharp than a première partie.
A French manufacturing is excluded for two reasons. These caryatid bases were old-fashioned in Paris where Boulle had just created the modern furniture. Narrative illustrations are very rare in French furniture. Under these conditions, an attribution to Hendrick van Soest is highly credible.
Working in Antwerp, van Soest had previously produced cabinets on stand of similar shape with the most luxurious marquetry. In 1703 he had shipped to Madrid a group of desks paying tribute to the new king. His inventory after bankruptcy in 1713 records several pieces with Philip V's monogram, including perhaps the two pairs that are the subject of this discussion.
1713 is also the date of the treaty of Utrecht which puts an end to the war of succession of Spain. This group of cabinets was probably created in that year to celebrate the victory of the Bourbon dynasty against the Habsburg. It was probably not delivered to the king and was a few decades later in the collection of a Flemish bourgeois.
One of the cabinets of the next sale is shown on the tweet below.
Telling the remarkable story of objects collected across centuries and treasured for generations, Masterpieces from a Rothschild Collection on 4 July in London comprises more than 50 lots with exceptional provenance: https://t.co/9LGJxURw6h pic.twitter.com/LDciSWZiSW— Christie's (@ChristiesInc) April 27, 2019
1715-1720 A Cabinet by Sageot with Boulle Marquetry
2008 SOLD 550 KCHF before fees
The armoires-bibliothèques (bookcase-cabinets) made by Sageot are superb. A beautiful decorated example with Boulle marquetry is the star of the sale organized by Koller in Zurich on December 3, Lot 1109.
This ebony piece of furniture is large, 2.90 m high. It has two doors, each one including two panels abundantly decorated in brass fillets, according to Boulle fashion. We see fruits, flowers, dancers, musicians. Three suns with human faces adorn respectively the mid-doors and the fronton. These figures are pleasant and elegant.
Nicolas Sageot, who was received maître (master) in 1706, was the most important French cabinetmaker of the generation that followed André Charles Boulle. His style of furniture is classified as Louis XIV or as Transition Louis XIV - Régence. His work is also best known because he was one of the few cabinet makers who stamped their outputs long before this identification becomes mandatory in Paris in 1743.
The cabinet described today is dated between 1715 and 1720, ie, from the historical point of view, at the beginning of the Régence that followed the death of Louis XIV. In excellent condition, it is estimated KCHF 500.
On 13 December 2006 at Christie's in Paris, a pair of armoires-bibliothèques of Sageot had been sold 600 K € fees included. They were smaller and less decorated as the upper part of each door was made of glass.
1720 BOULLE AND THE EARLY BUREAUX PLATS
André-Charles Boulle was received maître ébéniste (master cabinetmaker) before 1666. At the end of the reign ofLouis XIV, his prestige is unsurpassed, and his capacity for innovation is breathtaking. He is the pioneer of the various forms of French furniture of the eighteenth century and of the most elegant of them, the bureau plat.
A bureau plat (flat desk) is a table equipped with a belt of drawers whose center can hide secret drawers. If the space for storage is insufficient, you can install a cartonnier at the end of the table. This highly functional furniture has first been produced for luxury furnishing. Boulle also innovated by his gilded bronze decorations anticipating Cressent.
Boulle was using the most precious materials with a subtle sophistication. High end furniture was made in pairs, withsimilar or even identical decorations but with a reversed distribution of materials: the première partie and the contre-partie.
On December 15, 2005, Christie's sold £ 2.9 million including premium a piece considered as the largest bureau platmade by Boulle, in première partie with a 204 x 105 cm top, without cartonnier.
On September 26 in Paris, Europ Auction sells a bureau plat that was very probably the contre-partie of the above,of similar size decorated in brass inlaid with tortoiseshell and ebony. The catalog tells that slight differences between both pieces suggest that it was in the Boulle workshop during the 1720 fire and then had to be repaired.
1720s The Régence Desks
2011 SOLD 310 K€ including premium
Louis XIV became austere in his old age. The Régence after his death was a period when the aristocracy went to taste again the pleasures of life, even with some excess. Furniture, especially commodes and desks, acquired flexible forms while retaining the tradition of ornamentation of gilded bronzes and brass fillets.
The flat desk becomes the preferred furniture of the living rooms. Elegant in the extreme, succeeding to thecomplicated shapes of the so-called bureaux Mazarin with eight feet, it is an efficient design: a flat case of drawers raised on four curved legs.
The blackened wood is typical of the desks of that period. The specimen for sale in Paris on March 16 by EuropAuction was made around 1720. Interestingly, it can be disassembled. This characteristic rare in its time reminds us that the French word "meuble" originally meant mobile. The first meubles had been the coffres (chests), a storage furniture that followed the aristocrats in their wanderings from castle to castle.
It is unsigned, but very similar desks have been produced by Noël Gérard. Cabinetmaker and marchand-mercier (decorator serving wealthy clients), Noël Gérard was akin with two famous desk creators of the reign of Louis XV: he was the half-brother of Jacques Dubois and the nephew of Claude Montigny.
This beautiful desk 82 cm high with a maroquin top of 195 x 97 cm is estimated € 250K. Its aesthetic is particularly well done, with a slightly recessed central drawer.
POST SALE COMMENT
Europ Auction, specializing in old French furniture, is one of the most recent auction houses in France. It manages to revive this market sector which has just undergone some difficult years. The Régence desk, sold € 310K including premium, is an encouraging example.
1730S EARLY LOUIS XV ROCAILLE STYLE
By the early personal reign of Louis XV, a new style was developed for tables and consoles. Using gilt wood is anexcuse for the sculptor to exercise his virtuosity, with an exuberance that may be considered exaggerated.
This is the climax of the rocaille, or rococo, style, with its cartouches and its windings in a complex variety of decorative patterns, mostly flowers and leaves.
An example is estimated CHF 400K, for sale on March 29 by Koller in Zurich. This is a large console with four wavinglegs, 245 x 96 x 99 cm, equipped with a rich entretoise and a breche marble. Here is the link to the catalog.
This furniture of great opulence dating from the 1730s has certainly been designed by one among the two masters of the genre: the older was the ornemaniste Meissonnier, the younger the architect Contant d'Ivry. The furniture maker is not known. If the estimated date is correct, Nicolas Heurtaut, briefly mentioned in the catalog, was still too young.
1740-1745 WOOD AND BRONZE BY CRESSENT
2011 SOLD 560 K€ INCLUDING PREMIUM
In the eighteenth century, the rules of the craft were strict and severe. Charles Cressent had the audacity to break them by exerting himself both jobs of cabinetmaker and bronzemaker. In the years following the death of Boulle, he became the best cabinetmaker in Paris.
His elegant commodes are easily recognizable by the opulence of the gilded bronzes in rocaille style, finely decoratedwith palms and dragons. He was the supplier of the kings and of the aristocracy at the time of the early reign of LouisXV, when luxury furniture began to be essential for social status.
A specimen with two drawers on high legs, 90 x 130 x 65 cm, typical of Louis XV commode shapes, made circa 1740-1745, is for sale on December 9 in Paris by Piasa.
It is estimated € 350K. Here is the link to the catalog.
POST SALE COMMENT
Very good result, € 560K including premium, close to the higher estimate. The relatively small size of this commode explains that it did not reach a higher price.
early 1740s the corners of the espagnolettes
Originally trained as a sculptor and caster of bronze, he combined this specialty with the cabinetmaking, which was prohibited by the strict regulations of the corporations and occasioned to him some major difficulties with his competitors. The style of his bronzes is unique and has not been imitated.
Adding the fact that he wrote the catalogs of his sale inventories, a furniture by Cressent is easy to authenticate. The requirement of the estampille (stamp) from 1743 provides a breaking point for a date, to be used cautiously.
Cressent decorated his commodes with volutes of flowers and palms. The shape of a desk did not allow the same height of ornament, which he compensated by adding gilt bronze busts in the four corners in the extension of each leg. Various figures were available in Cressent's catalog. The heads of smiling women, young and less young, were named espagnolettes at that time.
On July 9 in London, Christie's sells a bureau plat in satinwood and amaranth decorated with espagnolettes, lot 15 estimated £ 1M.
This desk with its 206 x 97 cm top is the largest model produced by Cressent, executed in the early 1740s. Like most bureaux plats from that period, it lost its cartonnier (filing cabinet) equipped with a clock which was certainly decorated with an opulent bronze.
1745-1750 AN EARLY MODEL OF LACQUERED COMMODE
2008 SOLD 240 K£ INCLUDING PREMIUM
A contradiction between two informations of dates on Sotheby's site strengthens the curiosity for a lacquered Louis XV commode.
In this style the most sought furniture are those with richly decorative bronzes, or with lacquer decorations in the taste of the Far East. If it is stamped, it is also much better.
Lot 76 of the sale of December 2 in London, estimated £ 200 K, has all these qualities.
The long reign of Kanqxi, a contemporary of Louis XIV, saw a strengthening of mutual understanding between France and China. But it was under Qianlong, a contemporary of Louis XV, that Chinese art influenced luxury furnishings in France. So came the fashion of Chinese ceramics mounted in France in bronze or silver, and of lacquered panels with detailed scenery of pagodas, characters, rocks, birds, chrysanthemums, gilt on a black background, which decorated all kinds of furniture.
Our commode is a former model. The catalog dates it around 1730, indicating however that it is unusual to find an example at three drawers of a model that usually consisted of two.
The video presentation of the sale dates the commode to 1745-1750. We do not have the expertise to remove this contradiction but some comments can still be made, based on the discussions of the catalog.
It is stamped by Adrien Delorme, who was received master cabinetmaker in 1748. It could be an old carcasse which was assembled and lacquered circa 1745-1750. I prefer my hypothesis of a copy produced by Delorme at the beginning of its master activity, copying a former model because it was liked by a patron. This practice was common at all times, to satisfy all customers. It is not unusual that a commode "Régence" has been manufactured under Louis XV, or that a commode "Louis XV" has been manufactured under Louis XVI.
Our commode combining a decorative lacquer typically Louis XV with a 1730 model will certainly attract connoisseurs.
POST SALE COMMENT
I thought the estimate would be exceeded. This was not the case: £ 240 K inclusive.
1750 THE SECRETS OF A SECRETAIRE UNDER LOUIS XV
It is an opulent desk of Louis XV era, of the "bureau de pente" shape, 104 x 157 x 61 cm. It means that the cabinet has two parts. The lower part consists of drawers, some in lateral suspended boxes. The top is closed by a flap that conceals other small drawers and racks. Once deployed, the flap serves for writing.
Néret-Minet et Tessier sell it in Paris (Drouot) on November 21, lot 116. Recognizing the importance of this piece of furniture, they announced it long time ago through Drouot-Presse, included it in Drouot-Montaigne highlight exhibition and expect 300 K €.
This Louis XV bureau dating from about 1750 is curved, and decorated with a rosewood marquetry with dice patterns. It has an excellent pedigree: it is attributed to Germain Landrin and was sold to the aristocracy by Pierre Migeon, who stamped it.
From the outside, it is symmetrical, but the asymmetry of its interior design attracts attention. Indeed, there is not one but two flaps: a little one above the left box, and a larger one above the middle of the cabinet and the right box. The small flap does not lead to drawers but to a safe reinforced with brass.
1754-1757 writing and toilet
In the early 1750s, he amazes the court and the highest nobility with a new model of furniture named table à coulisse (sliding table) when considering its design and table à deux fins (table for two purposes) for its use.
The originality of this type of furniture is the fact that internal compartments are not accessible by sliding drawers but through a mechanism regulated by a crank and triggered by a key. The table à deux fins includes the lockers for the bottles of toiletries and is deploying a writing desk that is repositioned by rotating for displaying the luxurious decoration of a lacquered panel.
Surrounded by the best workers of his time, Oeben takes advantage of the French tradition of great luxury with the finest bronzes, marquetries and lacquers.
Oeben worked on commission for the French monarchy and was not obliged to sign the royal furniture. An unsigned table à deux fins was sold for € 1,16M including premium by Sotheby's on 15 December 2003.
Another of these tables just resurfaced. Kept in a collection in Saarland and stamped by Jean François Oeben, it certainly was executed between 1754 and 1757 when the Count of Zweibrücken was building his palace of Jägersburg in imitation of the Grand Trianon.
This beautiful piece is estimated € 500K for sale by Rouillac in the château d'Artigny near Tours on June 7, lot 97. Here is the link to the website of the auction house. It is in a great working condition.
1755 The Armchairs of Brotherly Friendship
2016 SOLD for $ 540K including premium
These pieces are scattered and nothing is known of their history before their separation. Four of them are numbered: III, IIII, V and VIII, with the matching frame numbers except for chair VIII which is fitted with frame I.
Their Queen Anne style was common in Philadelphia. The elegance of these luxury seats is obtained by the carefully rounded sculpture of their wood elements. The complex assembly is reinforced with iron in the most fragile areas. Their overall height, long elbows and hollowed decorated back confirm that they constitute a single group.
The comparison with other individual seats including side chairs leaves no doubt on the fact that they were manufactured in Philadelphia in the eighteenth century. The are the only group of its kind from which examples have survived.
The highest known number, VIII, suggests that they have been designed for the use of a community or a club. The name of the great bibliophile James Logan, who was also a mayor of Philadelphia, was forwarded but the argument about such a provenance is not based on documents of his time.
The chair V was sold for $ 2.25M including premium by Sotheby's on October 7, 2006 over a lower estimate of $ 500K.
A unique supernumerary armchair is known, without a serial number. Its final characteristics are identical to those of the other four units and it comes undoubtedly from the same original operation. Some holes to facilitate the assembly, present on the other chairs, are missing to this one, opening the interesting hypothesis that this piece would be a prototype for the series.
This armchair will be sold by Christie's in New York on January 22, lot 67 estimated $ 500K. It is deaccessioned by the Philadelphia Museum of Art which dated it from 1740-1760. The catalog by Christie's rather positions it around 1755, which corresponds to the period of preparation of the Philadelphia public library following the very generous legacy made by Logan.
1762-1765 THE DEMIDOV-WEILLER COMMODE
The shadow of the Demidov family flies over a prestigious commode. Pioneers of the Russian metallurgical industry and descendants of a blacksmith from Tula, the Demidovs owned mines of iron, silver and gems.
This chest was built in Russia between 1762 and 1765. Contemporary of Louis XV style, it is strongly curved on all sides, with a crossbow shaped front side. Each of its three drawers simulates three small ones, decorated with elegant ivory crossings.
The collectors of eighteenth century furniture favour the bronzes. Here it is still better: the ornamentation with the coat of arms of Novgorod is made in embossed silver and in carved massive silver.
The top is inlaid with a medallion centered by the monogram of Catherine II. I do not know if it is sufficient for stating that this piece was imperial. Still, it came very early in the Demidov family where it was transmitted by descent until 1973.
Now it is the star lot in the sale of the Weiller collections, in Paris from April 5 to 8 by Gros et Delettrez. Commandant Paul-Louis Weiller, or Paul-Louis XIV as Greta Garbo nicknamed him, was altogether a hero of World War I, a pioneer of the aviation industry and an outstanding patron of the arts and philanthropist. Promoted in the Légion d'Honneur at the age of 25, he died a centenarian.
The commode is estimated € 500K.
1765 The Great Room of Sir Lawrence Dundas
2018 both unsold
The new baronet buys and arranges several sumptuous residences, thus giving work to all the best British architects and cabinetmakers of his time. He does not refuse any style as long as it is luxurious and he highly appreciates the Palladian architecture and the decorative art of the Gobelins.
Dundas acquires in London a mansion very strategically located in Arlington Street in the business district. To enlarge this house to his taste he calls on the architect Robert Adam who was a great connoisseur of ancient architecture after a long stay in Rome. To ensure the most perfect harmony between architecture and furnishing, he commissions Adam to design the furniture.
The drawings of the sophas (according to the spelling of that time) and armchairs were made by Adam for Dundas in July 1764. They have been preserved. The manufacture of these seats and of several other pieces of furniture is ordered to Thomas Chippendale. The designs of the Adam seats are similar to a figure prepared in 1759 by Chippendale and included in the third issue of his catalog in 1762.
Chippendale's suite of seats made in 1765 for Arlington Street's great room is composed of two pairs of sofas and eight armchairs sculpted in an abundant style inspired by bas-reliefs of Roman sarcophagi including sphinges and griffins. The set was separated in 1934.
The two pairs of sofas have a different width. An example 252 cm wide was sold for £ 2.17M including premium by Christie's on June 18, 2008. It had retained traces of its original gilding. In the same sale a pair of armchairs from the same suite was sold for £ 2.3M including premium.
The pair of shorter 218 cm sofas was dissociated in 1997. These two seats are estimated £ 2M each for sale by Christie's in London on July 5, lot 15 and lot 16. They are discussed by Christie's in the video shared and commented by Antiques Trade Gazette.
In the 300th anniversary year of the birth of #ThomasChippendale, we will celebrate the genius of his designs and the perfection of his execution with our dedicated sale on 5 July. It will present 22 lots with estimates ranging from £5,000 to £5 million: https://t.co/43Q7jgtadN pic.twitter.com/iqIvtSHLxS— Christie's (@ChristiesInc) June 5, 2018
1766 Chippendale Transition
The very recent neoclassicism is inspired in architecture by neo-Palladianism and in furniture by the French style later named the Louis XV - Louis XVI Transition. The harmony of proportions replaces the complexity of forms and ornaments. The front side of the commodes loses its curved shape while a new care is brought to the splendor of the woods.
Succeeding in 1765 to his father as a Baronet, Rowland Winn inherited a vast Palladian-style mansion in Yorkshire. In the following year he bought a residence in St. James's in the heart of London to satisfy his wife's desires for a brilliant social life. The Baronet loves the modern style for which he uses Robert Adam. Adam's relationship with Chippendale has been excellent since their collaboration on the Dundas furniture.
A neoclassical mahogany commode 89 x 159 x 59 cm opening by two doors is estimated £ 3M for sale by Christie's in London on July 5, lot 10. It had appeared in Winn's estate. In 1991 while preparing for a sale at Christie's, a bill dated 1769 from Chippendale to Winn surfaced, describing some transformations of the internal drawers and pidgeon holes. A date around 1766 is plausible for the original build of this piece of furniture.
This unsigned piece is Chippendale's master work in the category of neoclassical commodes, with a rectilinear facade, concave lateral panels and a frieze à la grecque in ebony that well matches the new French fashion.
The only directly comparable furniture is a pair of commodes made about ten years later that surfaced in 1914 with a story related to the Duke of Wellington. It is however interesting to remind also a commode made in mixed precious woods with a curved front side, also unsigned, sold on December 7, 2010 by Sotheby's for £ 3.8M including premium over a lower estimate of £ 600K.
1770 WITH THE STAMP OF JOSEPH
On 13 December 2005 at Artcurial in Paris, the stamp of Joseph recorded one of the most remarkable results at auction concerning eighteenth century French furniture, obtained on a flat desk of Louis XV period sold € 6 million before fees. Its uniqueness was to be decorated with porcelain plates.
Many German cabinetmakers had a top role in the history of Parisian furniture. His name, Joseph Baumhauer, being locally difficult to pronounce, the stamp of the master was simply marked "JOSEPH".
For March 26 in Zurich, Koller announces another piece stamped by Joseph. This is a flap secretary, dated circa 1770. It is a cabinet in mahogany "moucheté" opening to mid-body with a tablet. Parallelepiped shape gives it a modern look for this time of the last years of the reign of Louis XV. It is beautifully inlaid with reserves and bronzes. Now, its dimensions: 69 x 40 x 126 cm closed, 69 x 76 x 126 cm with its shelf deployed. It is estimated KCHF 160.
Joseph Baumhauer died in 1772. As it was often the case at that time, his stamp was also used by his son. It can therefore raise a doubt about who of the two signed this furniture, but it has indeed little importance: its origine from the workshop of Joseph is ensured.
1770 A COLONIAL CHEST-OF-DRAWERS
Traditionally, the two major auction groups organize in January in New York their sales of American furniture and furnishings, generally with a strong section for silverware.
Without waiting for the press release of Christie's, we go directly to lot 214 of their sale of January 23.
It is a chest-of-drawers made in Boston circa 1770, while North America lived the last years of its colonial period. This piece of furniture belonged from the beginning to one of the most important families in the city, Quincy, where it remained during almost two centuries. Remind that the political role of Boston was paramount, and the Quincys were so closely related to the Adams that they appear in the name of the sixth U.S. president, John Quincy Adams.
Our furniture is a mahogany chest of drawers of Chippendale style. It has four stacked drawers, and is mounted on curious curved feet terminated by a claw holding a ball. It is curved (bombé shaping) at the level of the lower two drawers, making it a technical rarity for American furniture of this period. It has retained its original bronzes (three per drawer).
(Language note : bombé is a French word reused in English, but French use instead "galbé" for this meaning).
It has therefore all the qualities to attract American collectors, always keen of the witnesses of the time of their Independence.
The estimate is very open, as it is often the case for American and English furniture: 2 to 4 million $.
POST SALE COMMENT
It's far from the excitement of Americana sales in January 2008, where a Chippendale mahogany table fetched $ 5.4 million including premium at Christie's.
The chest of Boston has not been sold.
1770 A MARQUISE AS IN FONTAINEBLEAU
The name of the French seats of the eighteenth century changes with the width of the seat. It leads from the fauteuil to the canapé, successively through the bergère, the marquise and the duchesse. The marquise is already wider than high and is almost an armchair with two places (tight ...).
Fischer Auktionen sells an exceptional marquise, at Lot 3572 from the sale in Lucerne from 12 to 17 November. This seat has a royal look, with its carved and gilded wood worthy of the best seat makers. Its carving mixes Louis XV style (acanthus, palm) and Rocaille (garlands). Such a decoration is typical of the years around 1770, known as Transition Louis XV - Louis XVI in French furniture (although the wording is more often used for commodes).
The quality of manufacturing is such that Fischer considers that it was made by one of the two top masters who made seats for the royal residences, Nicolas Heurtaut (1721-1771) and Nicolas Quinibert Foliot (1706-1776). A resemblance to the furniture manufactured by Heurtaut for Fontainebleau makes them attribute the marquise to him.
The marquises are beautiful pieces of furniture, of well-balanced proportions. The dimensions of this one are 109 x 125 x 65 cm. For this anonymous seat so close to royal furniture, the estimate of 600 KCHF seems justified.
As in the catalog of Fischer, let us remind the name of the designer of these styles of seats, the architect Pierre Contant d'Ivry.
1770-1775 WITH A RECONSTRUCTED CARTONNIER
This ebony bureau plat, lot 61 of the sale by Christie's in London on July 10, has all the qualities. With its cartonnier adorned with a clock, its à la grecque friezes, its toupie feet, it has the elegance of Louis XVI furniture. It is usable as a desk with its three drawers and its protection of leather.
Stamped JME (Jurande de Maître Ebéniste), it goes back to 1770-75, when the young Louis expects to succeed to his grandfather. It is stamped twice by a prestigious master, Montigny, of whom I learn from the catalogue that he was related to the Dubois'.
No, unfortunately, it does not have all the qualities. Admittedly, its decorations are made of brass and not of bronze. But most importantly, the cartonnier with its clock is "reconstructed". It is a pity, because if the cartonnier was original, this piece of furniture might have been considered as exceptional.
The catalog tells us that it went on sale by Tajan in Paris on June 17, 1997. I found its photo in the Gazette de l'Hotel Drouot of that time: of course (whew!) it had the same cartonnier. It obtained the very good result of 3.7 MF excluding fees.
Christie's request now £ 700 K. Knowing the current difficulties of the market of eighteenth century French furniture, why would it be more expensive now than ten years ago?
Note that the words bureau plat, cartonnier, à la grecque, ébéniste, are left in French in the catalogue of Christie's. This simplifies my work, I do not translate these words!
1773 SWEDISH MARQUETRY
Georg Haupt is recognized as the best cabinetmaker in the Gustavian style. He had served his apprenticeship in Paris, where he was strongly influenced by the Oeben brothers, of German origin.
On April 5 in Paris, Gros et Delettrez sell a monumental cylinder fall desk, 1.58 m high and 1.16 m wide, signed byHaupt in 1773 when he had his workshop in Stockholm.
The curved shapes and fine marquetry strengthen the comparison with the work of Jean-François Oeben, but the top cabinet over the cylinder makes it an original piece which decidedly deviates from the Parisian productions. It isdecorated with gilded bronze.
This furniture is of imperial class: indeed it belonged to Czar Paul I who gave it to a prince. Out of Russia from Soviet time, it is now one of the lots featured in the Weiller collection. It is estimated € 200K.
1774 le garde-meuble de la Couronne
2019 sold for $ 1.15m including premium
Premises are dedicated to these operations. In 1757 King Louis XV decides to build a hotel specially conceived for storing the furniture. Operational in 1772 and completed in 1774, this masterpiece by Ange-Jacques Gabriel is today the Hôtel de la Marine, on Place Louis XV completed by the same architect in 1772 and later Place de la Concorde.
Successor to Oeben whose widow he married, Jean-Henri Riesener specializes in luxury furniture. In 1774 he is appointed Ebéniste ordinaire du mobilier de la couronne.
The officers of the Garde-Meuble have their apartments in the new hôtel. In 1774 Riesener makes an elegant commode in precious woods and marquetry for the bedroom of Mme Randon de Pommery, the wife of the Garde-Général. This commode 95 x 167 x 65 cm break fronted with three drawers in frieze over two full width drawers sans traverse appears as a model that will be reused in the following years for three pieces of furniture supplied to princesses of the royal family.
This commode is estimated $ 700K for sale by Christie's in New York on April 30, lot 51.
The top luxury is obviously reserved for the king. Two commodes are made respectively in 1776 and 1778 by Riesener for the cabinet of King Louis XVI in Fontainebleau. The latter was sold for £ 7M including premium by Christie's on July 8, 1999 over a lower estimate of £ 1.5M. Its size and its shape à ressaut are comparable to the Randon de Pommery example.
The Randon de Pommery commode, made for a furniture officer, is as well documented as a royal furniture. It had been sold for 1,350 livres. It is instructive to compare this price with that of the 1776 Fontainebleau commode, 6,870 livres. The total amount of sales by Riesener for the court from 1774 to 1784 exceeded one million livres.
La Fondation Collection Al Thani offre une commode de J.-H. Riesener au @leCMN— La Gazette Drouot (@gazette_drouot) May 21, 2019
Commandée en 1774 pour l’épouse du garde général des meubles de la Couronne, elle se trouvait dans sa chambre au Garde-Meuble, actuel Hôtel de la Marine □
Vente Christie's New York du 30 avril. pic.twitter.com/XGwd07MLWE
1775 TRANSITION BETWEEN CHINA AND GREECE
Concerning a commode stamped by Delorme, I discussed here last year about the early stages of Parisian commodes ornated with Chinese design lacquered panels. This theme is often associated quite rightly with the Louis XV style, the luxury furniture par excellence in the eighteenth century.
Then came the style now called Transition Louis XV - Louis XVI, better named "à la Grecque" when it was developed in the years 1760s and 1770s. The curve disappears, replaced by an austere geometry hardly interrupted by a central projection and which not yet showed the admirable flexibility of the Louis XVI.
Ornamentation can still be luxurious in the Transition commodes, as demonstrated on a copy which was made about 1775 by Dester. It is adorned with Chinese lacquer on all sides as well as à la grecque friezes and quality bronzes.Koller sell this furniture of typical Transition shape but rare quality in Zurich on September 17. It is estimated 420 KCHF.
The catalog raises the interesting question currently unanswered of the origin of lacquered panels on such later models. At the beginning of the Louis XV period, most of these panels were probably made in the Far East to be exported to France, but at the time of Dester they were more likely predominantly produced by Parisian workshops
Bureau Louis XVI by Montigny
2011 SOLD 1.2 M€ including premium
Related to the Dubois, Montigny is the most prestigious designer of Louis XVI flat desks. He had been accepted as maître ébéniste in 1766, the same year as Carlin.
An outstanding desk made during Louis XVI reign, stamped by Montigny, is for sale in Paris on November 10 by Europ Auction. It is estimated € 800K.
From the Régence that succeeded Louis XIV, luxury desks had often been in blackened wood. This one is better: it is plated with ebony, which enhances the quality of the Japanese lacquer panels that decorate the drawers. The Japanese lacquer, gold on black, beautifies more the Louis XVI style than the polychrome lacquer of China which had been so fashioned in the Louis XV.
The top wrapped with black leather and the discrete bronzes which emphasize angles, ends and accessories lead that specimen still closer to what has been the best in terms of French bureaux before the Art Déco.
POST SALE COMMENT
Here is a reassuring result for the health of the market of top French furniture of the eighteenth century: € 910K before fees, 1.2 million including premium.
1780 East meets West with Carlin
2018 sold for € 580k including premium
Made by Joseph in 1763, a bureau plat decorated with Sèvres porcelains was sold for € 6.9M including premium by Artcurial on December 13, 2005. Japanese lacquers bring an Oriental charm : a commode made by BVRB around 1750 was sold for $ 3.45M including premium by Sotheby's in October 2011.
The marchands-merciers are very busy at the beginning of the reign of Louis XVI. They serve as intermediaries between the royal family and the cabinetmakers. Taking advantage of the intense curiosity for exoticism at that time, they import from Asia the chests and screens from which they dismantle the lacquered panels. They also reuse Italian panels in pietra-dura. In both cases the scarcity of such materials excites the greed of the richest customers.
The best cabinetmakers in Paris are of German origin. Martin Carlin is the brother-in-law of Jean-François Oeben. He often collaborates with Adam Weisweiler. Around 1780 Carlin abandons porcelain to specialize in lacquer, a much more difficult technique because a crack or a burst is irreparable.
Carlin also used pietra-dura. He died in 1785. A pietra-dura paneled commode stamped both by him posthumously and by Weisweiler was sold for FF 46M including premium by Christie's on December 11, 1999.
On September 10 in Paris, Christie's sells an elegant ebony veneered bureau de pente stamped by Carlin circa 1780, lot 78estimated € 400K. It is decorated with lacquer boards made in Japan according to three different techniques. The original client is not identified but this luxurious desk belonged later to the comte de Flahaut, a probable natural son of Talleyrand and the illegitimate father of the duc de Morny.
Please watch the video shared by Christie's to introduce the Beistegui collection.
1785 Writings at Trianon
2019 SOLD for £ 1.1m including premium
When Marie-Antoinette becomes Queen of France in 1774, her financial resources are huge. She uses the château de Trianon a lot. The Hameau, including a Maison de la Reine, is created nearby from 1783 in a country style.
When Riesener was ousted in 1784 from the Garde-Meuble de la Couronne because his prices were too high, he continued to provide chests of drawers and desks for the Queen and her circle at the Tuileries, La Muette, Versailles, Compiègne and Marly. For Marie-Antoinette, nothing is too expensive. At that time, she creates the label of Garde-Meuble de la Reine. The records of these exorbitant expenses will be destroyed to prevent them from falling into the hands of the Revolutionaries.
The writing desks made by Riesener correspond to a standardized model. The shapes are simple, in the neoclassical style that is now opposed to Rococo. The ormolu gilt bronzes are luxurious.
Delivered in 1783, Marie-Antoinette's personal writing desk in the Hameau, 111 x 63 x 76 cm, returned to Versailles in 2011 after being acquired for € 6.75 million by the French State with patronage support.
On July 4 in London, Christie's sells a writing desk 81 x 48 x 76 cm, lot 20 estimated £ 400K. It bears both the marks of the Garde-Meuble de la Reine and of the Château de Trianon, assessing that it was delivered to the Petit Trianon for the Queen's personal use. The absence of the mark of the official furniture store indicates that Riesener made it after 1784. Please watch the video shared by the auction house.
Stop! Head of European Furniture & Works of Art, Paul Gallois explains #WhatIsAClassic: ‘This exceptional table by Jean-Henri Riesener was commissioned by Queen Marie Antoinette of France for her Petit Trianon.’ #ClassicWeekLondon #OutWithTheNew https://t.co/vDZOITgzUQ pic.twitter.com/j3yQHq6WJM— Christie's (@ChristiesInc) July 3, 2019
1785-1790 WHY DAGUERRE MOVED TO LONDON
The castles of the French eighteenth century competed for the luxury of their furniture. The marchands-merciers provided the link between the skilled Parisian craftsmen and the wealthy aristocrats.
True precursors of interior architects and designers, these traders were not allowed to manufacture and their task was to sort out the pieces that best pleased their customers. They are intermediaries whose biography is generally unknown, but their role in the history of art is fundamental.
In 1787, Dominique Daguerre settled in London. He grabbed a wealthy clientele including the Prince of Wales, and furnished sumptuous mansions including Althorp, the property of the Earls Spencer.
On July 8 in London, Christie's auctions as a single lot three pieces provided by Daguerre in 1791 to Lord Spencer. Executed between 1785 and 1790, the furniture, a chest (commode) with doors and a pair of corner cupboards (encoignures), are characterized by the geometric elegance of the best Louis XVI, with bronze, marble, and very rare panels of Japanese style lacquer decorated in a synthetic gold drawing on black background that may appeal the fans of all times. The lot is estimated £ 2.5 million.
The corners, stamped CC Saunier, were purchased in 1788 by Daguerre or his agents in an auction. The chest is not stamped. It was probably made between 1788 and 1790 to complete the set to be proposed for Althorp.