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    Sale 12029

    The Opulent Eye - 19th Century Furniture, Sculpture, Works of Art, Ceramics & Carpets

    7 June 2016, London, King Street

  • Lot 167

    A PAIR OF CHARLES X ORMOLU-MOUNTED PEWTER-INLAID, PIETRE DURA AND EBONY SECRETAIRE A ABATTANT

    ATTRIBUTED TO ALEXANDRE-LOUIS BELLANGE, CIRCA 1825-30

    Price Realised  

    Estimate

    A PAIR OF CHARLES X ORMOLU-MOUNTED PEWTER-INLAID, PIETRE DURA AND EBONY SECRETAIRE A ABATTANT
    ATTRIBUTED TO ALEXANDRE-LOUIS BELLANGE, CIRCA 1825-30
    Each with a moulded white marble top above a stiff-leaf and Vitruvian scroll frieze, above a slightly breakfront fall-front centred by a hardstone panel with a vase decorated with vine-leaf and grape mounts and flanked by panels of ribbon-tied foliate branches, enclosing a red velvet-lined writing-surface and five drawers beneath an open compartment, one cabinet with canted angles with vestal virgins on fluted columns, the other cabinet with spirally turned and fluted columns, above a mahogany-lined drawer with two small hardstone panels, on turned columns and plinth base, on turned feet, one cabinet with a circular paper label '110/1825/No. 1176'
    One cabinet: 48 ¾ in. (124 cm.) high; 30 in. (76 cm.) wide; 14 ½ in. (37 cm.) deep
    The other: 48 in. (122 cm.) high; 30 in. (76 cm.) wide; 14 ½ in. (37 cm.) deep


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    With their rich ebony veneers and splendid pietre dura panels, these superb secrétaires à abattant perfectly evoke the sophisticated and eclectic taste of Restauration France, which simultaneously reflected the designs of generations past and imbued them with new life and functionality. Made by Alexandre-Louis Bellangé, they were probably acquired when new by Richard, 1st Duke of Buckingham & Chandos, and were in the collection of the 2nd Duke at Stowe House, Buckinghamshire until sold as part of Christie's 1848 landmark sale at Stowe. Evidently much prized by the family they were purchased back by the 3rd Duke when they reappeared on the market in 1865, and have since remained in the family.

    RICHARD, 1ST DUKE OF BUCKINGHAM & CHANDOS

    The demise of the family fortune, culminating in the sale of Stowe’s contents had no doubt commenced with the 2nd Duke’s father, also Richard (d. 1839), a prolific collector. The 1st Duke was among the ‘early and considerable purchasers’ at the Orléans sale of Italian and French paintings in 1798, and was also a buyer at the 1823 Beckford/Fonthill sale. In 1827, the 1st Duke was sent to the continent to curb his extravagant spending but managed in three years of exile to accumulate yet more pictures and artefacts in Italy. It is feasible he acquired these secrétaires on his return journey through the European capitals. Alternatively the secrétaires may have been acquired by the 2nd Duke, as he too developed a partiality for this style of furniture; the 1848 Stowe catalogue reveals that there was a significant amount of Florentine pietre dure furniture in the mansion by this date.

    ALEXANDRE-LOUIS BELLANGÉ

    These elegant secrétaires can confidently be attributed to Alexandre-Louis Bellangé (d. 1863) and beautifully demonstrate the luxurious and expensive technique of embellishing furniture with semi-precious hard stones, a revival of the creations of the Opificio delle Pietre Dure. Pictorial panels were re-used and new ones created in Florence; these were possibly supplied by one of the most significant marchands of the period, Philippe Claude Maëlrondt. The inspiration for both Alexandre-Louis, and his father, Louis-François (d. 1827), also an ébéniste, were undoubtedly two of the greatest ébénistes of the Ancien Régime, Adam Weisweiler and Martin Carlin who incorporated such panels into furniture to create masterpieces of incredible luxury and exuberance (A.M. Giusti, Hardstones in Furniture and Decorations, London, 1992 p. 210, pl. 107 & 108).

    Provenance

    Most probably acquired by Richard, 1st Duke of Buckingham & Chandos (d. 1839), and thence by descent to his son, Richard, 2nd Duke of Buckingham & Chandos (d. 1861), at Stowe House, Buckinghamshire until sold, ‘Contents of Stowe House’, Christie, Manson & Woods, Third day’s sale, 17 August 1848, lots 367 and 368 to E.L. Betts, Esq. (for £89.5 and £80.17 respectively).
    E.L. Betts, Esq. at the Mansion, Petersham Lodge, Petersham until sold Mr. Phillips, 25 January 1865 and Two following Days, lot 111 to ‘Phillips’ for £32.11.
    Richard, 3rd Duke of Buckingham & Chandos (d. 1889) either at Stowe House or Chandos House, London, and thence by descent.


    Pre-Lot Text

    PROPERTY FROM THE DESCENDANTS OF THE DUKES OF BUCKINGHAM (LOT 167)