Lot 10
  • 10

A pair of gilt-bronze-mounted kingwood, tulipwood, amaranth and bois de bout floral marquetry encoignures by Joseph Baumhauer Louis XV, circa 1755

100,000 - 200,000 GBP
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  • 86cm high, 91cm wide, 67cm deep; 2ft.9¼in., 2ft.11¼in., 2ft.2in.
each with a later fossilised grey, peach and white marble top, one with a single shelf, the other with two shelves; marble tops restored


Baron Lionel de Rothschild (1808 -1879) at 148 Piccadilly, London.
Recorded in the division of property made after Baron Lionel de Rothschild's death (now in The Rothschild Archive) as going to Leopold de Rothschild: Anon., Division of the property of the late Baron Lionel de Rothschild between Sir Nathanial de Rothschild, Leopold de Rothschild, Esq. and Alfred de Rothschild, Esq., 1881, RAL 000/176/3.
By descent to his son Leopold de Rothschild  (1845-1917) at 5 Hamilton Place, London.
By descent to his son Lionel de Rothschild (1882-1942), at Exbury House, Exbury, Hampshire.
By descent to Edmund de Rothschild (1916-2009), at Exbury House, Exbury, Hampshire.

Lionel Nathan de Rothschild :
Lionel Nathan de Rothschild was the second child and eldest son of Nathan Mayer Rothschild (1777-1836) and Hannah Barnet Cohen (1783-1850). Lionel started working for the family banking firm in 1828 and spent two years in London with his father before transferring to Paris under the tutelage of his uncle, James. He was admitted to the family partnership in Frankfurt in 1836. When Nathan died in 1836, Lionel assumed head of the London house of NM Rothschild & Sons at the age of 28. 

Lionel took his seat as a member of Parliament in 1858.  After his marriage he lived in Charlotte Hill Street, sharing the Gunnesbury Park estate with his mother, which his father had bought in 1835.  He then bought a small farm at Ascott near Wing in 1858 and acquired Tring in 1872 and at the time of his death his estate in the Vale of Aylesbury amounted to approximately 10,000 acres.

148 Piccadilly was the central London home of Baron Lionel Nathan de Rothschild (1808-1879), which he built from 1859 to 1860 which was constructed by two English architects, Thomas Marsh and Charles Innes. 

From 1861, a certain Joyau was in charge of the decorators and not only were all the artists which he used French, e.g. sculptors, chair makers, designers but all the decorative materials came from France.  Although the façade was Italian, the interior décor was French inspired by the décor of Louis XIV with a profusion of marble.  The interior decoration appears to have been executed according to plans of Duponchel in collaboration with Charles Chambon.  It housed Lionel's great art collection which he had started to develop during his apprenticeship years in Europe. The collection which was divided amongst his three sons after his death was dominated by Old Masters many acquired from the Van Loon collection. 

Lionel's collections were mainly formed during the thirty years or so preceeding the date of its construction and are mentioned by Waagen 'art Treasures in Great Britain' (published 1854).


In overall good conserved condition with a superb provenance. Very attractive in reality with beautiful mounts. Colour of wood slightly darker and gilding more golden and much more attractive than in the catalogue photograph. The whole carcass has been partially ebonised internally and on the back and top. The gilt-metal banding below the apron is a later addition. A minor section of veneer is lifting above the keyhole of one which can easily be reglued. On both below the keyhole on the right door there is evidence of some previous mounts, as visible from photograph. Old very minor restorations to marquetry. The sides on the interior of both has been relined. On one, there is a small wooden piece attached to the carcass below the top to support the marble. One marble top has restored breaks and is held together with metal pins, the other has also been restored. The tops are contemporary with the piece and not later as stated in the catalogue. Highly recommended for rarity, provenance and quality.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

Comparative Literature:
Daniel Alcouffe et al., Furniture Collections in the Louvre, Dijon, 1993, Vol. I, p. 194-195, no. 61.
Jean-Dominique Augarde, '1749. Joseph Baumhauer. Ébéniste Privilegié du Roi.' L' Estampille, June 1987, pp. 15-45.
Pierre Kjellberg, Le Mobilier Français du XVIIIe Siècle, Paris, 1998, p. 451-454.
Alexandre Pradère, French Furniture Makers, The Art of the Ébéniste from Louis XIV to the Revolution, Tours , 1989, pp. 231-242.
Peter Hughes, The Wallace Collection Catalogue of Furniture, Vol. II, London, 1996.

This elegant pair of encoignures can almost certainly be attributed to Joseph Baumhauer on stylistic grounds. His work is epitomised by exceptional quality marquetry and lavish gilt-bronze mounts and he ranks together with Bernard II Van Risen Burgh (BVRB) as one of the premier Parisian ébénistes during the reign of Louis XV. The exceptional quality of his work is according to Kjellberg, op. cit., without equal. The production of Baumhauer during the middle years of the 18th century is characterised by a sobriety of form which contrasts with the richness and sumptuousness of the decoration. His commodes, encoignures and bureaux plats which constitute almost the entirety of his production are comprised of elongated lines and restrained curves resulting in an overall impression of harmony and elegance. He chose the most luxurious materials and used bois de bout marquetry in restrained tones almost always on a luminous tulipwood ground to achieve a shimmering effect.

His mounts were inventive and the quality of execution quite outstanding, the bronzes enhancing the lavishness of his work. His marquetry furniture had cartouches within amaranth or kingwood borders. The mounts are fluid and the chutes on the corners often extend down to the feet. The framing device in gilt-bronze was often entwined with foliage and pierced rocailles, fully blooming roses and flowers are often featured in his work as on the present encoignures.

Although it is rare to find encoignures by Joseph the following are recorded:
1. A pair of encoignures attributed to Joseph, circa 1755-60, in boulle marquetry, illustrated  by Augarde, op. cit., p. 30, fig. 22 and offered for sale in these Rooms, 7th December 2005, lot 19.
2. A pair of encoignures attributed to to Joseph in European lacquer in imitation of Japanese lacquer, in the National Gallery of Art, Washington, Widener collection, illustrated by Augarde, op. cit., p. 22, fig. 9.
3. A pair of neo-classical encoignures stamped Joseph in amaranth, tulipwood and floral marquetry, en suite with a commode sold through Poirier to the Marquis de Brunoy, now in the Musée de Louvre and illustrated by Alcouffe, op. cit., illustrated pp. 194-195, no. 61 (inv.OA 10374-10376).
4. A pair of encoignures stamped Joseph, in ebony with a  panel of Japanese lacquer in the collection of Her Majesty the Queen at Windsor Castle, illustrated by Augarde, op. cit., p. 36, fig. 33. They were delivered en suite with a commode decorated with Sèvres porcelain originally delivered after 1768, to the duchesse de Mazarin. After the sale of the marchand Maelrondt, in 1824, they went to England where they were acquired by George IV.
5. An encoignure in neo-classical style attributed to Joseph  sold Sotheby's, Monaco, 25th June 1983, lot 303.
6. A pair in floral marquetry, the Veil-Picard collection.

Joseph Baumhauer:
Joseph Baumhauer (d. 1772), ébéniste privilégie du Roi circa 1749.

Baumhauer, otherwise known as Joseph, had German origins and settled in Paris before 1745, although he was not a maître, he often stamped his pieces Joseph and had a highly successful workshop in rue du Faubourg-Saint-Antoine. An inventory taken after his death reveals that he had very few pieces, around fifteen in all, in the process of being constructed and considering the size of his business it would seem to indicate that he worked mainly on commission or for the marchands-merciers.  Joseph's clientèle included the French aristocracy but also Austrian and Russian clients which is confirmed by the presence of several important pieces of furniture in the rococo style in the Hermitage.