Guéridons were popularized in France from the end of the 18th century and were extremely fashionable during the Directoire period. The design of the present guéridon enjoyed great success, through its revival of the Antique.
Since there was an embargo of French gilt-bronzes in Russia during the beginning of the 19th century, it is quite logical that interpretations of these tables are now in Russian museums. This design for a Louis XVI guéridon was indeed faithfully reproduced with minor Russian variations by the leading designer and bronziers working at the Russian Imperial Court in the last years of the 18th century.
The Russian guéridons combine well-cut stone with an incredible rich use of gilding matched and a clear attention to the smallest details especially in the execution of the restrained neoclassical gilt-bronze mounts, altogether pointing to a flawless quality. In addition, the chasing of the mounts which rarely had matte surfaces made the mounts highly successful at reflecting light. The present guéridon and the examples mentioned below belong to a group, perhaps designed by Andrei Voronikhin (1759-1814), the celebrated architect and designer, then, possibly executed by Friedrich Bergenfeldt (1768-1822).
A group of related guéridons can be found in Imperial palaces in St. Petersburg as well as French collections and include:
- a guéridon with a porcelain top from the Imperial Porcelain Factory, decorated with a view of Pavlovsk and dated 1798, illustrated by A. Chenevière, op. cit., p. 28, fig. 13, now in Pavlovsk Palace;
- another guéridon also at Pavlovsk, with a blue glass top from the Imperial Glass Factory illustrated by A. Gaydamak, op. cit., p. 64.
- a guéridon, although of larger dimensions, now at Gatchina, with chains between the lion masks and vase between the legs, illustrated in Applied and Decorative Arts at the Gatchina Palace Museum, St. Petersburg, 1991.
- two sold Sotheby's London, Important Continental Furniture, 6 December 2006, lots 89 and 90;
- a guéridon, with lion monopodia in gilt-bronze and identical band on the undertier, sold as lot 50, Sotheby's, New York, 20 May 2005;
-a virtually identical guéridon, sold as lot 216, Sotheby's, New York, 23 May 2003 and then resold Christie's London, 10 June 2004, lot 80;
- a guéridon without a lower stretcher, from the collection of Jacques Doucet, sold Paris, 7 June 1912, lot 314, subsequently sold from the collection of Madame Pierre Schlumberger, Paris, Sotheby's Monaco, 26 February 1992, lot 66.
The present example was owned by Mrs. Jacques Balsan, better know as Consuelo Vanderbilt (1877-1964), Duchess of Marlborough. Consuelo had married on July, 4th 1921 Lt. Col. Jacques Balsan, the French aviator and industrialist. One of the wealthiest young women in the United States at the time, she had previously married the 9th Duke of Marlborough, Winston Churchill's cousin with who she remained friendly during her lifetime.
Consuelo was first able to exercise her passion for French furniture when she constructed her London residence, Sunderland House on Curzon Street in 1904, nine years after she became the Duchess of Marlborough. A gift from her father, William Kissam Vanderbilt, the house was decorated in the Louis XVI taste. The Duchess made numerous trips to Paris during this period both to furnish her house and visit her father who had taken residence in Paris in 1903 following his second marriage to Anne Rutherford. After her marriage with Jacques, she settled in France until 1940 when the couple fled to America because of the Second World War. Her paintings and furniture often followed her from her house in Oyster Bay to Casa Alva, a tropical retreat in Hypoluxo Island, Florida which was decorated with panelling taken from Hamilton Palace.
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