THE PROPERTY OF A PRIVATE EUROPEAN COLLECTOR TOGETHER WITH LOT 138
the low galleried superstructure with three shallow drawers inlaid with guilloche, the cylinder front inlaid with a central oval of flowers within a ribbon-tied husk frame flanked by panels of flowerhead trellis and opening in conjunction with a leather-lined writing slide to reveal an interior lined in tulipwood and rosewood with pigeon-holes and drawers, one with gilt-metal writing implements, the frieze with two central shallow drawers and two further drawers on the left-hand side all inlaid with flowerhead trellis, with a leather-lined slide at each end, the right-hand end with a deep drawer with hinged lid, with plain veneered back, on cabriole legs, the whole with gilt-bronze laurel-wreath handles, some concealed locks, the drawers all lined with blue silk and some with contemporary ink-written labels
Sold in these rooms as lot 38, Highly Important French Furniture and Clocks, 11th June 1993
Emile Molinier, L 'Histoire Générale des Arts Appliqués à l’Industrie, Vol. II, 1898, p. 163.
Pierre Verlet, Les Bronzes Dorés Français du XVIIIè Siècle, Paris, 1987, p. 329, fig. 363.
Svend Eriksen, Early Neo-Classicism in France, 1974, London, p. 118.
Pierre Verlet, La Revue des Arts, Paris, 1954, pp. 47-8.
The present bureau by Leleu is most likely the first of four related secrétaire à cylindre, two of which were made for Louis Joseph de Bourbon, Prince de Condé. The other cylinder bureaux are all in a pure Louis XVI style and would therefore post-date the offered piece in the transitional style. Of those three, one is known to have been delivered for the Prince de Condé's Cabinet at the Palais Bourbon in 1772 (Archives de Chantilly AC7), which is now only known from an engraved illustration reproduced by Emile Molinier in L 'Histoire Générale des Arts Appliqués à l’Industrie, Vol. II, 1898, p. 163. The second was delivered for the Prince de Condé's Petit Cabinet at the Château de Chantilly in 1779 (Archives de Chantilly AB29), sold Sotheby's Monaco, 16th June 1990, lot 943. The third is almost identical to the Chantilly bureau which was formerly in the Rothschild Collection at Schloss Schillersdorf and is now in the Angewandte Kunst Museum, Vienna – illustrated by Pierre Verlet, Les Bronzes Dorés Français du XVIIIè Siècle, 1987, p. 329, fig. 363, (see figure 1). The Vienna secrétaire is not stamped by Leleu, but is marked, as is the Chantilly bureau, by Stadler, Leleu's son-in-law and sometime collaborator (see Archives Nationales Min. Cent. LXXXIX, 715).The offered piece must date from the very late 1760's or early 1770's. The basic form is very similar to that of the bureau by Leleu in the Huntington Collection, San Marino, California, inset with twenty-four Sèvres plaques bearing the date-letter for 1767. As the marchand-mercier Simon-Philippe Poirier (1720-1785) had a virtual monopoly on porcelain plaques from the Sèvres factory, one could assume that the Huntington desk was commissioned by him, possibly to a design by one of his draughtsmen, (see figure 2).
It is possible, therefore, that the present lot was also ordered by Poirier. The Huntington Bureau is illustrated by Svend Eriksen, Early Neo-Classicism in France, London, 1974, p. 118.
The frame to the oval floral marquetry medallion on the cylinder front of the present lot is identical to that on the commode by Leleu delivered on 9th November 1772 for use in the Prince de Condé's bed-chamber at the Palais Bourbon, see Pierre Verlet, La Revue des Arts, Paris, 1954, pp. 47-8.
Jean-François Leleu, 1729-1807, was apprenticed, as was Jean-Henri Riesener, to the workshop of Jean-François Oeben. After Oeben's death Riesener married his widow and continued the workshop while Leleu left to obtain his letters of Maîtrise (on 19th September 1764) and set up his workshop in the Chaussée de la Contrescarpe, moving a few months later to the rue Royale. His success was immediate. As well as working extensively for the Prince de Condé, even making a marquetry floor for the Palais Bourbon, Leleu also provided, through the agency of Poirier, furniture for Madame du Barry. Between 1765 and 1771 he produced furniture for the Baron d'Ivry at the Château d'Hénonville and probably for the Marquis de Marigny at Menars.
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