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    Sale 7812

    Belgravia and Lake Geneva - Two European Collections

    14 May 2009, London, King Street

  • Lot 146

    A RUSSIAN ORMOLU-MOUNTED TULIPWOOD AND KINGWOOD SERPENTINE COMMODE

    CIRCA 1750

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    A RUSSIAN ORMOLU-MOUNTED TULIPWOOD AND KINGWOOD SERPENTINE COMMODE
    CIRCA 1750
    Banded overall in fruitwood, with two drawers flanked by angles headed by a floral C-scroll mount and terminating in sabre legs, the reverse branded in Cyrillic and inscribed in black ink 'F', the reverse also with a blue paper label inscribed in Cyrillic, the inside of the lower drawer inscribed in black ink 'A12435 33328', the back indistinctly inscribed in chalk '64037', partially remounted
    32½ in. (82.5 cm.) high; 43 in. (109 cm.) wide; 21 in. (53.5 cm.) deep


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    This commode bears to the reverse the brand in cyrillic for 'Z.D.U.' and 'No.' and an obliterated inscription. The paper label attached beside it reads Zarskosjelskago Dvorzovago Upravlenie, for Tsarskoe Selo Palace Administration, while the brand is an abbreviation for the provenance. Unfortunately the inventory number has been obliterated and from the exact location as well as the year of the inventory, has not been identified.

    Tsarskoe Selo was originally built as Peter the Great's (d. 1725) official Embassy to the west in 1697-98. However, the court was moved from Moscow to St. Petersburg. Peter the Great gave the estate, then but a one storey wooden farmhouse, to his consort, later Catherine I (d. 1727). The first palace was built under Bronstein in 1718-24, and it was at this time that it was renamed Tsarskoe Selo or Tsar's village. In 1744 Elisabeth I (d. 1762) expanded the palace under the direction of the architect Chevakinski and remodelled the central original building in 1752-3 with the assistance of Rastrelli. Under Catherine the Great (d. 1796), the palace was further aggrandized as it was not only used as the summer residence of the Tsars but also as the Residenz, or official seat of the court. It therefore had the most ancillary buildings and surpassed most other palaces in splendour

    The court patronised several Parisian ébénistes, some of whom came to St. Petersburg and trained local craftsmen. This commode was made by a Russian cabinet-maker towards the end of Elisabeth's reign or at the beginning of Catherine the Great's reign. The commode's elegantly serpentined form, as well as its handle-pattern of acanthus-scrolls displayed in beribboned tablets of ray-parquetry in kingwood and tulipwood, corresponds to that of a Louis XV bureau plat bearing the brand of Leonard Boudin (P. Kjellberg, Le Mobilier Français du XVIII Siècle, Paris, 1989, p. 95).

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    Provenance

    Almost certainly supplied to Queen Elisabeth I or Catherine the Great for Tsarskoe Selo, St. Petersburg.
    Anonymous sale, Christie's London, 30 October 1997, lot 43.