BUREAU PLAT 'À BUSTES DE GUERRIERS ANTIQUES'
Reprising the work of celebrated Ancien Régime cabinetmaker and sculptor, Charles Cressent (1685-1768), this impressive bureau plat is a fine manifestation of the extraordinary craftsmanship of Alfred-Emmanuel-Louis Beurdeley, the last member of a celebrated dynasty of Parisian furniture makers.
From their shop at the pavillon de Hanovre in Paris, each successive generation of the Beurdeley dynasty worked in a slightly different field of expertise. Alfred-Emmanuel-Louis specialized in the creation of faithful replicas of famed 18th century models drawing heavily from the French national collections, Mobilier National. The present desk is a faithful reproduction of the model that Charles Cressent is known to have made at least three times circa 1740-1745: one bureau plat, which has conserved its serre-papiers, sold from the collections of the duc de Richelieu in 1788, later in the Houses of Parliament in London, and today in the collections of Grimsthorpe Castle is illustrated in A. Pradère, French Furniture Makers, London, 1989, p. 268-9, no. 61; another in the primary residence of the French President, the Palais de l’Elysée in Paris; and a final example in the Gulbenkian Museum in Lisbon (inv. 2369), having formerly been in the collections of, among others, baron Nathaniel de Rothschild and baron Alphonse de Rothschild. Cressent was known as a skilled sculptor, and produced and gilded many of his bronze mounts in his own workshop, a rarity in the 18th century. The casqued warriors with Roman armor, known as bustes des guerriers antiques, were among his most celebrated mounts, and can also be found on the angles of the legs to a cabinet de medailles in the Gulbenkian Museum, Lisbon (illustrated A. Pradère, op. cit., p. 128.).
Inspired by the virtuosity of the celebrated 18th century maker, Beurdeley is known to have produced a number of examples of the present bureau plat, including the present lot, which bare his hallmarks of precise construction and finely chased mounts. An identical bureau plat sold Christie’s, Paris, 17 April 2012, lot 423 (94,600 €).