PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE COLLECTION IN GENEVA
Gilles Joubert (1689-1775) had started working for the Garde-Meuble de la Couronne in 1748, becoming ébéniste ordinaire ten years later, and ébéniste du Roi between 1763 and 1774, as a successor of Jean-François Oeben and the predecessor of Jean-Henri Riesener. The Archives Nationales bear witness to the vast amount of work that Joubert undertook for the Crown, with furniture delivered to the chateaux of Versailles, Fontainebleau, Compiègne, the Petit Trianon and Saint-Hubert, Louis XV’s hunting lodge. Often, these commissions would be subcontracted to other makers such as Roger Vandercruse Lacroix, Léonard Boudin, and Mathieu Criaerd; although until the very end he did not cease to closely supervise the design and execution of these pieces. Joubert’s oeuvre therefore spans the Louis XV, Transition and Louis XVI styles, always maintaining graceful lines far removed from all excesses, in line with the refined tastes of the royal household.
Other commodes à la Régence delivered by Joubert include one sold Christie’s Paris, 19 December 2007, lot 418, and one other for the Comte d’Artois at Fontainebleau, sold Artcurial, Paris, 12 December 2012, lot 53. The singular and exceptionally rich mounts could well be by the same hand as those found on a distinctive group of Joubert furniture, including a bureau plat sold Koller Zurich, 19-22 March 2007, lot 46, and a parquetry commode sold Christie’s Paris, 19 December 2007, lot 418. Very similar marquetry appears on other commodes including one stamped Delorme (ill. Kjellberg, op. cit., p. 244).
Not far from the Palais Bourbon, the hôtel de Lionne Pontchartrain, in the Rue Neuve des Petits-Champs, had been built by Louis Le Vau (1612-1670), who had just completed Vaux-le-Vicomte, after 1661. The palace was bought by King Louis XV in 1747 to become one of the residences of the “ambassadeurs extraordinaires”. However, the hôtel soon became the first “official” building for charges of state when in 1756 it was granted as a residence of the minister of finances, or Contrôleur General. Still in use during the Empire and Restauration, it was abandoned in 1822 and demolished soon afterwards for redevelopment.
Clément de L’Averdy, Marquis de Gambais (1724-1793) was an influential aristocrat and politician of wide interests. A great friend of the Duc de Choiseul, he became one of the first proponents of the liberté du commerce des grains, although his choice would later prove controversial. In 1763 he was made Contrôleur Général des Finances, and took up residence in Rue des Petits-Champs. An erudite scholar, and a member of the Academie des inscriptions et belles-lettres from 1767, he stepped down in September 1768, retiring to the château de Neuville near Gambais. Arrested under the Terror, he was guillotined on November 23, 1793, his castle and its contents confiscated and sold as “bien national”. It is unclear whether the commode remained at the Hôtel de Lionne after L’Averdy’s departure in 1767, or whether it followed him at his estate near Gambais.
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