• 500 Years: Decorative Arts Eur auction at Christies

    Sale 2203

    500 Years: Decorative Arts Europe Including Carpets from The Corcoran Gallery of Art

    24 November 2009, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 253

    A LATE LOUIS XV ORMOLU-MOUNTED MAHOGANY, AMARANTH AND TULIPWOOD BUREAU PLAT

    STAMPED 'MONTIGNY', CIRCA 1770

    Price Realised  

    Estimate

    A LATE LOUIS XV ORMOLU-MOUNTED MAHOGANY, AMARANTH AND TULIPWOOD BUREAU PLAT
    STAMPED 'MONTIGNY', CIRCA 1770
    With faux drawers to reverse, the frieze with Greek key inlay, with illegible white chalk inscriptions to sides of drawers, the undersides of drawers numbered '1' and '2' in pencil, the right drawer also inscribed 'D', stamped to underside of right side, the top relaid, with unexplained holes to underside, the locks replaced, ormolu border to top replaced, border to top probably reveneered
    30 in. (76 cm.) high, 37½ in. (95 cm.) wide, 22½ in. (57 cm.) deep


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    Philippe Claude Montigny, maître in 1766.
    With its 'Etruscan' decoration and interlaced Greek-key frieze, this bureau plat reflects the goût grec style introduced in the 1750's by the architect Louis-Joseph Le Lorrain. Probably working in collaboration with a marchand-mercier such as Simon-Philippe Poirier, Le Lorrain's goût grec style was first realized in the designs for the celebrated suite of furniture supplied for the Parisian hotel of the amateur Ange-Laurent Lalive de Jully circa 1755, which included the bureau plat and cartonnier now in the musée Condé at Chantilly, as well as the one sold by the 7th Marquess of Cholmondeley, Houghton, Christie's London, 8 December 1994, lot 80.

    This bureau plat relates to the well-documented group of bureaux à la Grecque stamped by both Montigny and Dubois. Executed in either amaranth and tulipwood or in ebony, often displaying the same distinctive ormolu mounts and of very similar proportions and design, this group reflects the close collaboration that existed between these two ébénistes.

    The bureaux à la Grecque executed by Montigny generally tend to be characterized by their slightly larger size and unified veneer. One stamped by Montigny with abbreviated Greek-key decoration across the three frieze drawers is in a private collection (A. Pradere, Les Ébénistes Francais de Louis XIV a la Revolution, 1989, p. 306, fig. 344). Another very similar bureau stamped by Montigny with identical angle mounts and lion's masks was sold anonymously at Sotheby's Paris, 23 June 2004, lot 80. A further bureau almost identical to the present lot, though not stamped by the ébéniste, was sold anonymously at Sotheby's, Monaco, 26-27 February 1993, lot 221. Other bureaux à la Grecque by Montigny follow the same sense of design and outline, but have undecorated amaranth-veneered frieze-drawers, such as that sold anonymously, Christie's, Monaco, 19 June 199, lot 110, and another also sold anonymously, Sotheby's, Monaco, 3 July 1993, lot 166.

    In view of the fact that une table de bois d'amaranthe à la Greque was recorded in the inventory taken following the death of Jacques Dubois, while Montgny himself was not elected maître until 1766, it seems fair to conclude that it was Dubois who initially devised this model, but in the face of excessive demand, he in turn acting in the capacity of a marchand-ébéniste - subcontracted to Montigny to supply him with bureaux of this form. This hypothesis is further supported by a number of pieces stamped by both ébénistes, both at Waddesdon Manor and in the Wallace Collection, as well as a bureau à la grècque sold anonymously at Sotheby's, Monaco, 17 June 1988, lot 741 (only Montigny's stamp noted in catalogue).

    Provenance

    with Segoura, Paris.


    Pre-Lot Text

    PROPERTY FROM A NOBLE COLLECTION (LOT 253)