This 'Etruscan' bureau plat with sophisticated Roman sphinx-headed monopodiae supports epitomizes the refined lines and understated 'antique' style of the late 18th century. With its progressive design deriving from the excavated Pompeian bronze altar-tripod that is now displayed in the Museo Archeologico, Naples, this bureau plat is embellished in the manner of a Roman altar and heralds the Empire style of the early 19th century. The celebrated Pompeian antiquity featured in the French architect J.N.L. Durand's 'Autels, Trepieds, Candelabres, Lampes et Meubles', Paris, 1802 and inspired the manufacture of the Emperor Napoleon's font that was presented by the city of Milan in 1811 for the christening of his son, the King of Rome (L. de Groer, Les Arts Décoratifs de 1790 à 1850, Fribourg, 1985 figs 1 and 2).
With its bronze monopodiae surmounted by sphinx supports, this table relates to the celebrated 'Etruscan' porcelain-topped gueridons commissioned by the marchand-mercier Dominique Daguerre from the Sèvres manufactory and supplied in 1787. Supported on a bronze and gilt-bronze base executed by Pierre-Philippe Thomire, one of these gueridons, formerly owned by the Rothschilds, was subsequently sold in Paris, Ader Tajan, 20 June 2001, lot 146 (FF 19,500,000). Another closely related example, with its plaque dated 1790 and probably ordered in Paris by Emperor Paul I of Russia for the château Michel, was subsequently moved to Pavlovsk and is discussed in 'Trésor des Tzars, La Russie de Pierre le Grand à Nicolas Ier', Exhibition Catalogue, Galerie Kugel, Paris, 1998, p.69, no.182, while a closely related bureau plat, though of slightly smaller proportions and with ebony rather than thuya veneers, was sold at Christie's, London, 'Boulle to Jansen: An Important Private European Collection', 11-12 June 2003, lot 59 (£206,850).
The heir to Simon-Philippe Poirier's atelier, Dominique Daguerre specialised in supplying objets de luxe to the French Court and, increasingly during the 1780s, to the English nobility. Based in the rue St. Honoré, his trade label reveals:
'Tient Magafin de Porcelaines, Bronzes, Ebénisterie, Glaces, Curiosités, & autres Marshandises', and in the 1780s he even opened a shop in Piccadilly, London to supply the Prince of Wales and his circle, including the Duke of Bedford and Earl Spencer. Interestingly, Christie's held three sales, the first two (anonymous but almost certainly Daguerre's stock) on 15-17 March 1790 and 23-24 April 1790, while the third sale on 25-26 March 1791 was entitled: 'Superb Articles in French Or-Moulu...Imported from Paris by Mons. Daguerre'.
Born into a family of ciseleurs, Pierre-Philippe Thomire (1751 - 1843) was amongst the most celebrated bronzier-ciseleur of the Neoclassic period. He worked initially for the renowned bronzier Pierre Gouthière (1732 - 1813) as well as the ciseleur-doreur du roi Jean-Louis Prieur (d. circa 1785 - 1790), and quickly established a reputation for finely chased gilt-bronze. Thomire was responsible for designing and fitting ormolu mounts at the Sèvres factory after Duplessis's death in 1783 and he frequently collaborated with Dominique Daguerre.
Like so many 18th century ébénistes, Adam Weisweiler was German-born and probably trained in Neuwied under David Roentgen. He is recorded in Paris in 1777, the year he was married, and was accepted as maître-ébéniste in 1778 when he set up his workshop on the rue du Faubourg Saint-Antoine, working mainly for marchands-merciers such as Dominique Daguerre.