In 1780, the architect Belanger was awarded the task of redecorating the Duchess' hôtel in the style antique. Preliminary drawings for the interiors - preserved in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and illustrated in Pierre Verlet, op. cit., figs. 88-90, pp. 147, 149 - reveal that the console table formed part of an ensemble including a monumental mirror to stand above it and a bleu turquin marble fireplace also conceived by Bellanger. The fireplace was decorated with bronze satyresses modelled by Foucou and executed by Gouthière and today preserved in Frerrières, the former Rothschild estate outside of Paris.
The console table, however, never made it into the fine interior of the hôtel on the Quais Malaquais, as the Duchess died that same year in 1781 at the age of forty five. It remained in storage along with the rest of the furnishings with its mounts waiting to be gilt. Documents from the eight-year litigation reveal that the side roundels were originally fitted with the initials MA, for Mazarin-Aumont, and it was probably not before the end of the case on December 2, 1789 that the roundels were replaced with Mercury masks and the mounts gilt.
There are six recorded 18th century ormolu-mounted stone tables, four of which belonged in the collection of Louis-Augustin duc d'Aumont and father-in-law of the duchesse de Mazarin. The four recorded in his sale of 1782, however, are of much smaller size and of porphyry and jasper with legs adorned with ormolu Egyptian busts, duc d'Aumont sale, op. cit. pp. 141-144. All were bought by the crown and are now lost.
A larger console of green marble with mounts by Gouthière is known to have existed based on the drawing by Jean-Démosthène Dugourc and preserved in the Musée des Arts Décoratifs and illustrated in Verlet, op. cit. p. 294, no. 325.
The present console
Although this console is virtually identical to the Frick model there are, however, some minor discrepancies, notably to the central mask, and capitals. As Christopher Payne points out, the original table by Gouthière in the Frick Collection has two narrow bronze mouldings stamped on the reverse 'J.A. Hatfield, London'. The Hatfield foundry was active from the mid-nineteenth century. Unfortunately, under the later name of H.J.Hatfield, all the firms' records were lost in a fire in the twentieth century. They were able to produce castings to the very highest standard, every bit as competent as their French counterparts. They are known to have made complete items and not solely repairs, for example a set of four four-light candelabra made by the firm for Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild in 1882, copied from the British Royal Collection by kind permission from Her Majesty Queen Victoria. Verlet, op. cit., p.364) notes a remark made by Victor de Champeaux in circa 1880 ' Hatfield, fondeur et ciseleur du XIXe Siecle. Etait tres habile dans la reproduction des oeuvres francaises de l'epoque de Louis XVI. Il eut un neuveu qui herita de la delicatessen de son burin'. An important cabinet made for the Marquess of Hertford in 1855-1857, with gilt-bronze mounts with a possible attribution to Hatfield's was sold in these rooms: 'A Private Collection, Part II', April 19th 2007, lot 105.
Opportunity is the key to such high quality copies being made. The Hertford cabinet was made during preparations for the 1853 Gore House Exhibition in London. As the present lot was in England at the end of the nineteenth century, there were several such opportunities during the Belle Epoque. The original table had been owned by the distinguished English collector Alfred Morrison (d. 1897), of 16 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1 and of Fonthill. In 1895 it then passed to the dilettante Paul Ernest Boniface (1867-1932), comte de Castellane, nicknamed Boni de Castellane. Two years later the extravagant count married the American heiress Anna Gould, but was ruined by 1906 only to rebuild his life as a dealer in antiques and journalism. He may have bought the table from the eminent London dealer Asher Wertheimer, whose relation Charles sold it to J.Pierpoint Morgan in 1905. Presumably this resale in 1905 was to stave off Castellane's mounting debts. Subsequently, in 1915 the celebrated international dealer Duveen sold it to Henry Clay Frick.
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