Jean-Baptiste Gourdin, maître in 1748.
Conceived in the early Neo-classical style developed in the latter part of the reign of Louis XV, these superb chairs are entirely carved with overlapping roundels or guilloche, a motif adopted in various forms by chair-makers working in this new style. The frames, however, have retained most of their curvaceous rococo outline except for the seat-rail, which is horizontal. Shape and ornamentation are succesfully married and demonstrate that the 'antique' style introduced into menuiserie took an entirely different path to ébénisterie, where a bolder and more severe neo-classical style became the objective for the most sophisticated commissions.
Both Michel and Jean-Baptiste Gourdin executed similar chairs around 1765-70, making small differences in the basic form and carving. A related set of six chairs by Michel Gourdin of entirely sinuous form, including the seat-rail, and carved with guilloche, is in the Wallace collection (illustrated in S. Eriksen, Early Neo-Classicism in France, London, 1974, p. 336 and Pl. 163). Eriksen argues that whilst this model is undoubtedly from the second half of the 1760s, the Wallace set may have been produced as late as 1777 or even after that, because there is a fleur-de-lys stamped alongside the maker's mark which might suggest that they were not made until he had become chair-maker to the Court in 1777. A further related chair, again carved with guilloche, but with more restrained shapes in the rails, arms and back, and therefore probably executed around or just after 1770, is in the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris (B. Pallot, The Art of the Chair in 18th Century France, Paris, 1989, p. 186).