A LOUIS XV ORMOLU-MOUNTED AMARANTH, KINGWOOD AND TULIPWOOD PARQUETRY TABLE A ECRIRE
A LOUIS XV ORMOLU-MOUNTED AMARANTH, KINGWOOD AND TULIPWOOD PARQUETRY TABLE A ECRIRE
A LOUIS XV ORMOLU-MOUNTED AMARANTH, KINGWOOD AND TULIPWOOD PARQUETRY TABLE A ECRIRE
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A LOUIS XV ORMOLU-MOUNTED AMARANTH, KINGWOOD AND TULIPWOOD PARQUETRY TABLE A ECRIRE
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A LOUIS XV ORMOLU-MOUNTED AMARANTH, KINGWOOD AND TULIPWOOD PARQUETRY TABLE A ECRIRE

BY JEAN-FRANCOIS OEBEN, CIRCA 1760-63

Details
A LOUIS XV ORMOLU-MOUNTED AMARANTH, KINGWOOD AND TULIPWOOD PARQUETRY TABLE A ECRIRE
BY JEAN-FRANCOIS OEBEN, CIRCA 1760-63
The serpentine sliding top lined at a later date with red velvet and with moulded ormolu border, with a latch-framed forward-sliding drawer fitted with a hinged easel panelled with black and gilt lacquer in an ormolu frame, flanked by hinged flaps enclosing drawers, a trough and a further drawer inlaid with trellis en rosette parquetry, the eared frieze outlined by a foliate ormolu border on cabriole legs headed by foliate plaques centred by bearded masks and reaching to scrolled sabots, stamped 'JME' twice and '...N' the mechanism partially removed, originally with marquetry top
27 ½ in (70 cm.) high; 18 in. (45.8 cm.) deep; 31 1/8 in. (79 cm.) wide
Provenance
Almost certainly, Sir Henry Hope Edwardes, Bt., Wootton Hall, Derbyshire, and by descent to
Lt. Col. Herbert James Hope-Edwardes, Netley Hall, Shropshire, and by descent to
Lady More (née Hope-Edwardes, formerly, Coldwell) at Netley Hall, and subsequently Linley Hall, Shropshire, and by descent.

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Katharine Cooke
Katharine Cooke

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Lot Essay

Stamped by the ébeniste du Roi Jean-Francois Oeben (maître in 1761), this table à coulisse or table à deux fins is a superb example of his luxurious furniture incorporating technical devices alongside exquisite marquetry of rare exotic woods. Its beautifully made carcass and fine trellis parquetry is almost identical to the renowned table by Oeben in the Louvre.

Jean-François Oeben

Jean-François Oeben (1721-1763) was born in Germany and must have moved to France before 1749, when he married the daughter of the ébéniste François Vandercruse, himself father of the celebrated Roger Vandercruse known as Lacroix (RVLC). Oeben was trained by the son of André-Charles Boulle from whom he rented workshop space at the Galeries du Louvre.

When the latter died, Jean-François Oeben was granted a Royal warrant on 15 December 1754, enabling him to move into the Manufacture des Gobelins, as well as receiving the title of Ebéniste du Roi. At that point, he employed his younger brother Simon as a journeyman. During the same year, his name appeared in the Journal du Garde-Meuble de la Couronne, having delivered a commode for the apartment of the Dauphin in Versailles. In 1756, he moved to the Arsenal when a Royal brevet granted him and his wife the life tenancy of a workshop. In 1760 he began work on the famed bureau du Roi, later completed by Jean-Henri Riesener who until then had been his principal assistant. In 1761, Oeben became a maître without requirement to pay the fees generally demanded. When he died in 1763, his widow took over his business and choose Riesener to run it, who she would eventually marry.

Oeben was both an ébéniste and a mécanicien. It is only because he enjoyed Royal protection that he was able to combine two activities that guild regulations prohibited any craftsmen from practicing at the same time. Therefore, he was able to specialise in luxurious pieces of furniture incorporating elaborate mechanisms such as tables à la Bourgogne, tables de toilette or à écrire fitted with sliding tops such as the present table.

Les tables "à coulisse"

Jean-François Oeben's luxurious multi-functional marquetry furniture incorporating mechanical devices was highly successful and gained him much acclaim. Also known as "à deux fins" table and used as table à écrire and table de toilette, the present model of mechanical table demonstrates Oeben’s ingenious talent for creating innovative mechanical marquetry furniture during the late 1750s. The most celebrated and complex known example is the table delivered to Madame de Pompadour and now in the Metropolitan Museum (Linsky bequest, 1982.60.61). This unique table of unsurpassed richness and with pierced legs bears to the four corners of the frieze a gilt-bronze tower evoking the coat-of-arms of the marquise.

Oeben appears to have developed this mechanical model early in his career: a portrait by François Guérin of Madame de Pompadour and her daughter Alexandrine, painted around 1754, depicts an apparently near identical table. In 1757-58, Lazare Duvaux, for whom Oeben worked on numerous occasions, provided four tables of this model with sliding tops, almost certainly all by Oeben. One of these was delivered to the celebrated amateur Laurent Grimod de la Reyniere and was described in Duvaux’s Livre-Journal as ‘3041 une table a ecrire dont le dessus a coulisse, le tiroir garni de quarts de rond, baguettes, prises, chutes et ornements de bronze dores d’ormolu, le placage en bois de rose a filets, 216 L.’.

The inventory compiled after Oeben’s death in 1763 lists “12. une table a deux fins, de 28 pouches de long sur 15 pouces de large, ladite table a pupitre et secret plaqué de bois de rose…”. Oeben only stamped his pieces after receiving his maîtrise in 1761, which provides us with a date post quem for his stamped work. Both the present table and the table in the Louvre are stamped; one of these two is therefore almost certainly the example listed in Oeben’s inventory.

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