Lot 93
  • 93

Charles-Guillaume Winckelsen French, 1812-1871 A rare pair of Louis XIV style gilt bronze-mounted brass and tortoiseshell inlaid Boulle marquetry commodes Paris, circa 1867, after the celebrated model made by André-Charles Boulle for Louis XIV, now at the Château de Versailles

Estimate
300,000 - 500,000 USD
Sold
730,000 USD
bidding is closed

Description

  • Charles-Guillaume Winckelsen
  • gilt bronze, brass, oak ebonized pine, tortoiseshell
  • Height:  34 inches
    Width:  49 inches
    Depth:  25  1/4  inches
Each with a beveled levanto rosso marble top above a pair of concave and convex drawers, front and sides inlaid in première partie boulle marquetry, the back inlaid in contre partie, the top of both cases with various French export stamps, the underside of one commode stamped CHLES WINCKELSEN  49. Rue Turenne  A PARIS

Provenance

Comoglio, 22 rue Jacob, Paris, 1965
Christie's New York, June 7, 2011, lot 343

Literature

André-Charles Boulle 1642-1732, Un Nouveau Style pour l' Europe, ex. cat. Museum fur Angewandte Kunst Frankfurt, Oct. 2009-Jan. 2010, p. 76 and 147
Théodore Dell, Furniture in The Frick Collection, New York, 1992 pp. 233-246.
Daniel Meyer, Versailles Furniture of the Royal Palace, Volume I, 2002, pp.542-557.
Alexandre Pradère, French Furniture Makers, Paris, 1989, p.72.
Kisluk-Grosheide D.O.,Koeppe W. and Rieder W., European Furniture in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2006, p. 85, pl. 31 for the Jack and Belle Linsky Collection example
Petworth House, West Sussex, ed. The National Trust, 1997, p. 30, for the record of a single commode by Boulle in the "carved Room"

Catalogue Note

Based on the same model as lot 30 in the present sale, this rare pair of commodes are meticulously detailed and technically skilled nineteenth century recreations of the commodes produced in 1708-09 by André-Charles Boulle for Louis XIV's bed-chamber at the Palais de Trianon, now the Grand Trianon transferred to Versailles in 1932 op. cit. D. Meyer, p. 54. At the time, the model was highly successful and it is believed that the Boulle workshop produced at least five other examples of it, as evidenced by descriptions in eighteenth century Paris auction catalogues. op. cit. Dell, p. 244, note 3. The popularity of the model seems to have seamlessly continued into the nineteenth century with its reproduction being commissioned at various points throughout the intervening years. It is interesting to note that that the original design might have been the work of Gilles-Marie Oppenord, based on a signed drawing in the Cooper-Hewitt Museum, New York, showing a bureau plat with closely related legs and mounted with female busts, op. cit. Dell, p. 209.

The Culture of 19th Century Royal recreations

Copies of eighteenth century pieces were highly valued in nineteenth century culture, as they often cost more to make than the original would have been worth on the open market. Rather than seeing them as derivative copies or fakes, 19th century audiences recognized them as works of art in their own right. Collectors often mixed eighteenth century and nineteenth century pieces in their collections and found them equal in comparison of quality and technique. The Wallace Collection, which is discussed more extensively in the note for lot 31, features this unique mix of originals and copies as one of its collectors included the 4th Marquess of Hertford who purchased Louis XV and Louis XVI pieces while also simultaneously commissioning reproductions from the top contemporary cabinet makers. A cabinet commissioned by Lord Hertford from John Webb was recently sold at Sotheby's New York, A Private Collection, Volume II, April 19th, 2007, lot 105 for $3,176,000.00. Empress Eugénie was an important tastemaker in this regard as well because she redecorated the Tuileries and Saint-Cloud with 18th century pieces created for Marie Antoinette. Her interest in 18th century pieces compelled her court to commission recreations from the top cabinetmakers of the time. To educate the public, other exhibits, besides just Gore House, were organized to show 18th century furniture: including an exhibit by Empress Eugénie at Petit Trianon in 1867 and a showcase at the Exposition de l'Union Centrale des Art Décoratifs in 1882. 

Many nineteenth century cabinetmakers were commissioned to reproduce this model including Charles Winckelsen, the creator of the current lot, Henri Dasson, whose reproduction of this model was sold Sotheby’s New York, October 24, 2007, lot 326 ($853,000), the Beurdeley family, the Sormanis, and François Linke. Three pairs of 19th century commodes of this model exist in public collections: A pair by Fourdinois, the mounts cast by the Denière foundry, is at the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Rouen, France, a pair in the Royal Palace, Madrid, Spain and another by Blake of London, is at the Frick collection, New York. It appears that this diverse group of cabinetmakers were able to reproduce Boulle’s model thanks to the Gore House Exhibition in London held from May to July 1853. At this exhibition, eighteenth century works loaned by various collectors, including the Duke of Hamilton, were exhibited. The Duke of Hamilton’s commode by Boulle himself, and now in the collection of the English National Trust at Petworth House in West Sussex (see photographs above) was most probably copied by John Webb for the 4th Marquess of Hertford. Through the careful and costly process of copying the mounts, the commode was able to be reproduced in its exact dimensions.

The 19th Century Fascination with Boulle Marquetry

Andre-Charles Boulle was known for his ‘Boulle marquetry’, which is based on an originally Dutch decorative inlay technique. While Dutch marquetry typically involves different types and cuts of wood, Boulle elaborated on this method by incorporating more expensive and exotics materials such as tortoiseshell, brass, copper and pewter. This lavish and eye-catching inlay was popular from Louis XIV’s reign to France's Second Empire and finally into the Third and Fourth republics. The catalyst for the resurgence of this style in the nineteenth century in France was actually the British fashion for what they called ‘Buhl’ furniture. The decoration of Carlton House by the Prince of Wales, later George IV, involved the acquisition of ‘Buhl’ pieces. As the fashionable tastemaker of the Regency period, the Prince of Wales inspired a broader renewed interest in Boulle furniture that influenced the continent as well. The English fascination with the Boulle technique inspired a French cabinetmaker, Louis le Gaigneur, to set up a 'Buhl factory' in London in 1815, shortly after, the English workshop of George Bullock who used the Boulle technique, was established. Another maker and repairer was Thomas Parker of Air Street in London and from the 1830s, Town & Emanuel advertised as 'Manufacturers of Buhl Marqueterie, Resner and Carved Furniture', their trade label illustrated, Payne, Nineteenth Century European Furniture, p. 306.

Charles-Guillaume Winckelsen (1812-1871)

Charles-Guillaume Winckelsen had his workshops at 23, Val-Sainte-Catherine in 1854 and can arguably be considered as one of the most important mid 19th century cabinetmakers alongside Fourdinois, Grohé, Dasson, Beurdeley, and Millet. By 1860 he had moved to 21, rue Saint-Louis in the Marais, and in 1867, he relocated his premises to 49, rue de Turenne. His production varied from furniture to decorative works of art, yet he was most known for his high-quality works in the Louis XVI style. He had a distinguished clientele, including Lafitte, Behague, the Marquis de Lillers and the Prince Radziwill. Jean-Louis-Benjamin Gros was his main furniture maker, and Joseph-Nicolas Langlois his bronze chaser. Following Winckelsen's death in 1871, Henri Dasson purchased on July 27 the workshop and stock from Winckelsen's widow for 14,000 French francs.

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