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A SUITE OF SEAT FURNITURE EXECUTED BY CLAUDE I SENE FOR THE GRAND SALON AT THE CHATEAU DU MARAIS
Jean Le Maître de La Martinière (d.1783), château du Marais, by descent to
His niece, Adélaîde La Live de la Briche, née Prévost (1755-1844), to
Her daughter, Comtesse Caroline Molé, née de La Live (1781-1845), to
Her grand-daughter, Clotilde de la Ferté-Meun, Duchesse de Noailles (1831-1931), to
Hôtel de Maisons, 51 rue de l'Université, Paris.
Anonymous sale, Christie's, New York, 26 October 1994, lots 99-102, where acquired by the present owner.
This superb suite of giltwood furniture (offered here as lots 370-373) once formed part of the Grand Salon, or principal reception room overlooking the park, at the château du Marais, just outside Paris. The suite originally contained a further two fauteuils and a set of four bergères which were sold at Christie's, London, 30 October 1993, lots 372, 372A and 372B, respectively, and is recorded in an inventory drawn up in 1783 after the death of the then maître des lieux, Jean Le Maître de La Martinière (illustrated here). At the death of Adélaîde La Live de la Briche in 1844, the suite is still recorded in the Grand Salon where it remained until removed by Clotilde de la Ferté-Meun, Duchesse de Noailles, prior to the sale of the château in 1897 the comte Boniface de Castellane (1867-1932), who was married to the rich American heiress Anna Gould (1875-1961).
THE CHâTEAU DU MARAIS
Le château du Marais was built by the architect Jean-Benoît Vincent Barré between 1772-80 for Jean Le Maître de La Martinière (d. 1783), trésorier général de l'Artillerie et du Génie, who had acquired the estate in 1767. On the estate, once stood a château féodal of which only a circular tower, now converted into a pigeonnier, subsists.
THE HôTEL DE MAISONS
Also known as the Hôtel de Longueil, d'Angervilliers, de Soyecourt, or Pozzo di Borgo in the 19th Century, the Hôtel de Maisons was built by Pierre Cailleteau, dit Lassurance (1655-1724) in 1706.
Perhaps the most fascinating features of the Hôtel are the boiseries of the Grand Salon which were carved by the celebrated sculpteur and ornemaniste Jacques Verberckt (1704-1771).
The oeuvre of Claude I is often only associated with Louis XV models of rococo outline, while his sons, Jean-Baptiste and Claude II (both maîtres in 1769) are generally linked to pure neo-classical designs. Several authors amongst whom P. Kjellberg suggest that such an association was probably compounded by various misinterpretations of the respective stamps of Claude I (G. SENE with an inverted N) and Claude II (C. SENE) in various publications and early sale catalogues. The present suite demonstrates that Claude I produced seats in the full-blown Louis XVI style of the 1780s and that his oeuvre was more prolific than had thus far been assumed (P. Kjellberg, Le Mobilier Français du XVIIIè Siècle, Paris, 1989, p. 804-806). The relative scarcity of Louis XVI seats executed by the menuisier, the quality of the construction and state of conservation of the following four lots make it an important and rare suite of seat furniture.
Among the few recorded Louis XVI seats executed by the menuisier, P. Kjellberg lists a grey-painted marquise sold at Christie's, Monaco, 4 December 1988, lot 207 and a small canapé, sold at Verrières-le-Buisson, 29 May 1988 (Le Mobilier Français du XVIIIè Siècle, Paris, 1998, p.806). Further related examples by Claude I sold at auction include a suite of giltwood seat furniture sold anonymously, Christie's, London, 7 July 2005, lots 516 and 517, while a canapé closely related to lots 372-3 and featuring similar foliate finials to the dossier à la reine, was sold anonymously at Sotheby's, Paris, 25 June 2003, lot 88.
P. Verlet, The Eighteenth Century in France, 1967, pp.17-18, fig. 12.