An almost identical bergère was sold with Hotspur and was published in the C.I.N.O.A. International Art Treasures Exhibition, at the Victorian & Albert Museum, 1962, no. 103, plate 73, exhibited by Brian Johnson. (Nicholas Goodison and Robin Kern, Hotspur, Eighty years of Antiques Dealing, London, 2004, pp. 156-157, cat. 7, illustrated) Both chairs bear similarites to the work of John Linnell; however the present bergère, with its pegged French construction as well as dramatic legs bears similarity to the work of François Hervé (1781-1796).
Presumably a French emigré, he described himself as a `cabriole chairmaker' and his documented work is described as `a light elegant and adroit mixture of English and French detail' ( Beard and Gilbert, Dictionary of English Furniture Makers 1660-1840, Leeds 1986, pp.423-424). His career is somewhat obscure, the London Directories recording his address at 32 John Street, Tottenham Court Road, where earlier he was in partnership with John Meschain. He had a number of fashionable and influential patrons including the Prince of Wales, the Earl Spencer and the Fifth Duke of Devonshire for whom he supplied several suites of seat furniture for Devonshire House ( illustrated John Cornforth, London Interiors, 2000, p.64) and which still remain at Chatsworth, and see also The Burlington Magazine, June 1980, pp.400-414, figs. 43-46. The carving on the seat-rails and arms relates to a suite of seat furniture supplied either to John, 3rd Earl of Bute for the drawing room at Luton Park, circa 1767-1774, or to John, Viscount Mount Stuart, later 1st Marquis of Bute for Cardiff Castle, circa 1777-1778, sold Christie`s, London, Works of Art from the Bute Collection, lots 21, 22, 23, 24th July 1996.
He is also known to have worked in conjunction with several leading architects including Henry Holland, John Carr and James Wyatt at Heveningham Hall. A number of pieces survive with this latter provenance and are conceived in a similar fashion with delicately carved gilded detail.
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