This vitrine amplifies Linke’s innovative design and extraordinary technical capabilities for which he was awarded a Gold Medal at the Paris Exposition Universelle in 1900. Linke’s title in his daybook ‘Vitrine Louis XV, bronze sur glace’ underlines his technical innovation in that his craftsmen were able to position the elaborate strapwork and foliage at the top and bottom of each of the thee pieces of curved glass. Such was the precision that Linke demanded of his fitters that family tradition had it that he would use cigarette paper to try to slide it between the glass (or wood veneers) and ask for it to be refitted if necessary. This model was first shown at the 1900 exhibition in the left hand corner of the stand between the Mars & Venus cabinet, number 701 and the ‘Commode coquille: Coquetterie et Modestie’. The original vitrine of this model, shown at the 1900 Paris exhibition, was sold to Marshall Field in September 1900 for 3,000 francs and the provenance of the version illustrated in Payne Linke, plate 161 suggests that this was the Marshal Field example. The initial cost price was 1,891 French francs and we know from the detailed Linke archives that most of the bronze models for this vitrine were originally conceived by Léon Messagé for the smaller model number 487 circa 1890 and the first version of the present lot was first made in 1897. It is possible that this model was not originally conceived for the exhibition although it is a perfect combination of the Linke and Messagé style that made the judges award the gold medal for an exceptional and cohesive exhibition display. Five vitrines are known to have been made according to the records with a taller one for Prince Gargarine at 212 centimetres high. The larger version for the prince had the female face at the centre of the cornice but clearly this was a popular motif and Linke has inscribed the price list in pencil in pencil ‘fronton tete haut 1m 90’, suggesting that, as in the present lot, it was to be available on the other smaller cabinets.
There have been a limited number of examples of this Linke model on the market in the last decade, both variations of the present lot and the smaller, earlier Linke version index number 487.
A single vitrine directly comparable to the present lot realized £96,000, Christies London, 29 March 2007, lot 100 and another sold Christie's New York, November 26, 2013, lot 90, realized $179,000. The smaller and simplified version, index number 487, sold Christie's New york, October 26, 2004, lot 321 for $ 237,100.
Footnote courtesy of Christopher Payne
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