PROPERTY FROM THE COLLECTION OF MRS. MARELLA AGNELLI (LOT 358)
each with a breche d'Alep marble top with canted forecorners, the frieze with pair of drawers fitted with ormolu ring handles flanking a bow-knotted keyhole escutcheon above a pair of cupboard doors, one enclosing three long drawers the other enclosing a shelf, the canted corners fitted with tapered fluted ormolu mounts hung with laurel swags and continuing to square tapered legs ending in ormolu bun feet; the frieze fitted all around with rectangular panels painted with floral swags and vitruvian scroll borders surrounded by beaded ormolu borders, the corners the front and each sides fitted with panels painted with figures in bucolic landscapes in multicolors on a cream ground, surrounded by ormolu borders. Formerly with additional mounts.
The underside of one marble carved with the number 1, and one carcass stamped with the number 3 on the top. One door inscribed in pencil (beneath the papier mâche panel, A. Bergmann.
Offered, Christie's, London, July 8, 1965, lot 156 (The Property of a Gentleman).
The distinctive painted panels on this highly unusual pair of commodes find parallels with other fashionable furniture made in Poland in the late 1770's and early 1780's. They can be compared with a commode and a bonheur du jour, each dated circa 1780, in the National Museum, Warsaw (the latter in the Nieborow branch (Inv. no. NB 233 MNW), the former in the Lazienki branch, Inv. No. ML 148) and illustrated, A. Rottermund, Neoclassicism in Poland, Warsaw, 1986, pp. 235-236, figs. 225-226. Each is painted with polychrome floral decoration on a cream ground, and the bonheur du jour, in particular, is painted with floral swags virtually identical to those on the present lot. The corner mounts and keyhole escutcheons on the Warsaw commode can also be compared with those on the present lot, together with similar veneers on an oak carcase. In her book on Polish furniture, Maszkowska attributed the Warsaw commode to the Royal Workshops working for King Stanislas Augustus (B. Maszkowska, History of Polish Furniture-Making, p. 92, fig. 77).
The Stanislas Augustus style in Poland
King Stanislas Augustus Poniatowski (reigned 1764-1795) played a pivotal role in the history and development of Polish culture in the second half of the 18th century. A product of the Enlightenment, a Francophile, a highly educated admirer of Voltaire and Shakespeare, promoter of political and social reform, he supported the development of sciences and encouraged artists in his court. Not only did he encourage foreign artists and craftsmen to work in Poland, but also he worked to encourage the formation of Polish art and Polish artists. When Poland had been ruled by the Kings of Saxony, Dresden had been the cultural and political capital; with Stanislas' election to the throne, the Royal Court and hence Royal patronage shifted to Warsaw.
The Stanislas Augustus style was, in common with much of the rest of Europe, heavily influenced by French art and the French neoclassical movement. This was expressed in Polish architecture, also in Polish fine arts, sculpture, applied and decorative arts, and most fully at the Royal Castle in Warsaw and at the summer palace, Lazienki - a 17th century pavillion which Stanislas Augustus transformed into a palace. The great aristocratic families of Poland also followed the fashions coming from Paris, London, and indeed, Warsaw, in building, decorating and furnishing their vast estates and households.
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