Lot 1037
  • 1037

A Louis XV ormolu-mounted kingwood, tulipwood, amaranth, fruitwood, and bois de bout marquetry commode, circa 1750

Estimate
100,000 - 200,000 USD
bidding is closed

Description

  • kingwood, tulipwood, fruitwood, amaranth, bois du bout marquetry, ormolu, marble
with a red and pink breccia marble top, the mounts struck with the C couronné poinçon, the top stamped MM twice.

Provenance

The Hon. Mrs. Price, sold Sotheby's London, December 13, 1974, lot 29
Ader Picard Tajan, Paris, March 18-19, 1981, lot 381

Catalogue Note

With its exquisite end-cut floral marquetry veneer and fantastical gilt-bronze mounts in the form of elaborate acanthus and C-scrolls, dragons, lions' heads and palm trunks, the Keck commode is a consummate example of the mature Louis XV style of c.1745-50 and a superlative achievement of design, craftsmanship, and materials in both two and three dimensions.  It forms part of a group with seven other commodes with comparable asymmetrical gilt-bronze cartouches on the front and sides and decorated with floral marquetry, either by or attributed to Adrien Faizelot-Delorme (maître 1748) or his contemporary Pierre Roussel (maître 1745): - Musée du Petit Palais, Paris (ill. Pierre Verlet, Paris 1963), stamped Delorme and Roussel;

- Christie’s London, 13 June 2002, lot 135, stamped Roussel, former Collection of the Margraves and Grand Dukes of Baden (ill. F. Quéré, Les Roussel. Une dynastie d’ébénistes au XVIIIe siècle, Dijon 2012, p.125);

- Commode formerly with Segoura, Paris, attributed to Delorme, ill. P. Kjellberg, Le Mobilier français du XVIIIe siècle, Paris 2002, p.281 fig. b;

- Christie’s London, 14 December 2000, lot 90, attributed to Delorme, Blackwell Collection (£443,750);

- Sotheby’s London, 24-25 November 1988, Collection of the British Pension Fund, lot 7, stamped Delorme; Sotheby’s New York, Matthew Schutz Collection, December 9, 1994, lot 185 ($225,500)

- Paris, Hôtel Georges V, 19 March 1981, lot 381;

- Sotheby’s London, 17 July 1953, lot 160, attributed to Delorme, Collection of Lady Janet Douglas Pennant, Penrhyn Castle, Wales.

The presence of both Delorme's and Roussel's stamps on the Petit Palais piece is intriguing. It is not unusual to find the estampilles of more than one cabinetmaker on 18th-century furniture; what is atypical, however, is that here Delorme affixed his stamp firmly and directly over Roussel’s, as if he were trying to assert his predominance or even obliterate any trace of his fellow master. Delorme is known to have operated as both a manufacturer and dealer, and in this instance Roussel may have supplied the carcase and Delorme the marquetry and/or bronzes, and indeed may have been responsible for the overall design and marketing of the piece, either directly to the client or via a marchand-mercier.  The latter were a distinct category of designer-entrepreneurs in Ancien Régime France who functioned as middlemen between artisans and clients, often commissioning works of art themselves and functioning as tastemakers.

The Keck commode ranks among the most accomplished of the series, in terms of size and its more elaborate scheme of gilt-bronze mounts, bearing the crowned C mark and including models that do not appear on the other examples. The lack of an estampille on such an important work implies it was commissioned by a marchand-mercier to sell directly to the client himself, with Delorme the most likely candidate for authorship. The carcase construction exhibits several differences from that of the Petit Palais commode, which would appear to have been manufactured by Roussel as his estampille was applied first (We are extremely grateful to M. Patrick Lemasson, Curator of 12th-18th Century Decorative Arts at the Musée du Petit Palais, Paris, for allowing us to examine their commode in detail).  The ground into which the floral marquetry is inlaid also uses the distinctive chevronné veneers of alternating bands of darker and lighter-coloured woods in a zebra pattern, a technique particularly associated with works firmly attributed to Delorme (cf. A. Pradère, French Furniture Makers, Paris 1989, p.179-81).

The MM stamp remains undocumented, though Salverte (Les ébénistes du XVIIIe siècle, Paris 1962) records a Michel Mallerot becoming maître ébéniste in Paris in 1740.  It is possible Mallerot produced the carcase which was then completed by Delorme, or the stamp may refer to a later restorer.

The C couronné (crowned C) mark, referring to cuivre (copper) was a tax mark applied to precious metals between 1745 and 1749.

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