Displaying beautiful panels of Japanese lacquer to the frieze and sides, this elegant and sumptuous bureau is inspired by the work of ébéniste du roi, Martin Carlin, circa 1783. A closely related model, now in the Victoria & Albert Museum (no. 1049:1-1882) was almost certainly commissioned by Dominique Daguerre (d. 1796), one of the most famous marchand-merciers of Paris during the late 18th century. Privileged dealers not only sold a wide range of luxury goods, but were also constantly devising new inventions: unexpected types of objects, unusual combinations of materials, unprecedented models and forms. The slightly elongated and ovoid form of the original was favored by Carlin, who would finished the carcass in a variety of luxurious materials; including Sèvres porcelain, an example of which is known to have been supplied by Daguerre to the Grand-Duchess Maria Feodorovna in 1784. Another table, included in a suite of lacquer furniture for her grand cabinet, was ordered for Louis XV's daughter, Madame Victoire, in 1785.
In the 19th century, lacquer-mounted furniture enjoyed a revival and the leading makers produced elaborate replicas of some of the most famed pieces from the end of the preceding century. Bearing only the stamp of the mid-19th century locksmith Souchet (often associated with works by Charles-Guillaume Winckelsen), the extremely high quality bronze cisleur and clever cabinetry with concealed lacquer drawers suggests manufacture by one of the premier ébénistes of the Second Empire. A strikingly similar table in Japanese lacquer by Beurdeley père is illustrated in D. Ledoux-Lebard, Le mobilier français du XIXe siècle, Paris, 2000, p.78 and another highly embellished example by Louis-Auguste-Alfred Beurdeley is illustrated in C. Mestdagh, L'ameublement d'art français: 1850-1900, Paris, 2010, p. 142. That such pieces of exceptional 19th century manufacture should end up in the homes of Europe's elite collectors is not surprising; a related pair of lacquer commodes dated to the 1870s and copied from a Carlin design were in the collection of Baron Mayer de Rothschild. Like their Parisian relatives, the Austrian branch of the illustrious banking family decorated no fewer five Viennese palaces in the goût Rothschild, all of which embodied la gloire du roi. During WWII, his elegant bureau was confiscated and held in the salt mines at Alt Ausse before being famously restituted to Baron Alphonse de Rothchild's widow in 1945 by The Monuments Men. Another 250 works, including fine European decorative arts and likely returned to the family in the same year, were donated by the descendants of Alphonse and Clarice to the Museum of Fine Art, Boston in 2015.