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    Sale 7727

    Important English Furniture and Clocks

    4 June 2009, London, King Street

  • Lot 91

    A GEORGE III ORMOLU-MOUNTED ROSEWOOD, SABICU AND MARQUETRY SERPENTINE BOMBE COMMODE

    ATTRIBUTED TO PIERRE LANGLOIS, CIRCA 1765

    Price Realised  

    Estimate

    A GEORGE III ORMOLU-MOUNTED ROSEWOOD, SABICU AND MARQUETRY SERPENTINE BOMBE COMMODE
    ATTRIBUTED TO PIERRE LANGLOIS, CIRCA 1765
    Diagonally banded and crossbanded overall, the quarter-veneered top above a pair of doors enclosing a later fitted interior of three drawers, the keeled angles with foliate and rockwork clasps, above a shaped apron on tapering feet with scrolled sabots, the back and underside black-painted, originally further mounted, the mounts regilded in the 19th century
    33½ in. (85 cm.) high; 48¼ in. (123 cm.) wide; 24 in. (61 cm.) deep


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    THE ATTRIBUTION TO PIERRE LANGLOIS
    This marquetry commode can be attributed to Langlois based on a number of comparable commodes discussed and illustrated in P. Thornton and W. Rieder, 'Pierre Langlois, Ebéniste', Parts I-V, Connoisseur, December 1971, February, March, April & May 1972, pp. 105-112, 178, 283-88. The present commode shares features with documented commodes by Langlois. These include the bombé serpentine form, shaped apron, double doors, and black-painted underside and backboards, all found in commodes by Langlois.
    The two closest comparisons to this commode to have sold recently is an early George III kingwood, parquetry and floral marquetry commode, attributed to Pierre Langlois, sold by the late Judge Coles, Q.C, Bolney Lodge, Toovey's house sale, 10 October 2006, lot 68 (£160,000) and another, also with floral marquetry sold anonymously, Christie's, London, 7 June 2007, lot 40 (£144,000).
    Documented commodes include one supplied to the Earl of Coventry at Croome Court in 1764, signed by Langlois, now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York which shows the above listed features (ibid., Part III, p. 1, fig. 1). The latter features a marquetry top while the present commode has a simpler, inlaid veneered top: a typically English treatment and one which Langlois seems to have adopted rather than complying with the French tradition of incorporating a marble top. The type of gilt-bronze foliate mounts on the commode are common in Langlois' oeuvre: thought to have been executed by his fellow emigré craftsman, the bronze-founder Dominique Jean, who produced gilt-mounts for Langlois in great quantities and also believed to have been Langlois' son-in-law (N. Goodison, 'Langlois and Dominique Jean', Furniture History, 1968, p. 106). Another typical Langlois trait found in the present commode is the distinctive black (and sometimes red wash) on the underside and back of the carcase, perhaps used to hide the poorer quality of carcase wood.
    PIERRE LANGLOIS IN THE 1760S
    During the early years of King George III's reign, the Tottenham Court Road ébéniste and specialist 'inlayer', Pierre Langlois (d.1767) introduced the fashion for this style of serpentined commode, enriched with golden acanthus-scroll mounts. A French cabinet-maker, Langlois had established himself in England by 1759. His most significant patrons included John Russell, fourth Duke of Bedford, for whom he was supplying furniture for as early as 1759, and George William, sixth Earl of Coventry for whom he supplied furniture at Croome Court, Worcestershire. Langlois' trade-card advertised the fact that he specialised in furniture with floral inlay 'inscrutez de fleurs en Bois' and it was illustrated with a serpentine commode with putti resting upon it. This type of commode was to become his speciality: Matthew Boulton noted in his 1769 diary Langlois' sign of 'commode tables' outside his Tottenham Court Road premises.
    Langlois' house style developed in the 1770s away from the rather ponderous but magnificent forms of his early 'English' manner, in a direction that conformed more closely to the new taste that preferred less flamboyant lineaments and cooler ornament in the classical vein. This type of restrained decoration features on a commode from Holland House, now at Melbury House, Dorset supplied by Langlois to Lady Holland (ibid., Part 3, figs. 14 & 15). It is probably later in date than the documented 'two beauties in the salon' she mentioned in her letter of 21 March 1763, as it is grouped by Thornton and Rieder as belonging to a group of commodes with features in common with a well-known commode supplied by Langlois to Paul Methuen at Corsham Court, Wiltshire in 1772 (ibid., Part 3, p. 179 & Part 5, p. 32).
    Other elements appear to be simplified too, such as the mounts which are restrained with a small, feathered trimming connecting the corner mounts to the scroll feet. Versions of this lighter design of corner mount are found on the pair of commodes at Sherborne Castle, Dorset [with drawers] (ibid., Part 4, p. 264, fig. 17) and also on a pair of commodes sold by H. Blairman & Sons, London, 1978 (ibid., Part 3, fig. 6). These mounts were a popular model and they may well have been produced as a stock model by Dominique Jean, who could have sold them to other cabinet-makers as well as Langlois.
    The two closest comparisons to this commode to have sold recently is an early George III kingwood, parquetry and floral marquetry commode, attributed to Pierre Langlois, sold by the late Judge Coles, Q.C, Bolney Lodge, Toovey's house sale, 10 October 2006, lot 68 (£160,000) and another, also with floral marquetry sold anonymously, Christie's, London, 7 June 2007, lot 40 (£144,000).

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