A LATE LOUIS XV ORMOLU-MOUNTED TULIPWOOD, BOIS SATINE, SYCAMORE, FRUITWOOD MARQUETRY AND PARQUETRY BONHEUR-DU-JOUR
A LATE LOUIS XV ORMOLU-MOUNTED TULIPWOOD, BOIS SATINE, SYCAMORE, FRUITWOOD MARQUETRY AND PARQUETRY BONHEUR-DU-JOUR
A LATE LOUIS XV ORMOLU-MOUNTED TULIPWOOD, BOIS SATINE, SYCAMORE, FRUITWOOD MARQUETRY AND PARQUETRY BONHEUR-DU-JOUR
A LATE LOUIS XV ORMOLU-MOUNTED TULIPWOOD, BOIS SATINE, SYCAMORE, FRUITWOOD MARQUETRY AND PARQUETRY BONHEUR-DU-JOUR
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Prospective purchasers are advised that several co… Read more PROPERTY FROM THE COLLECTION OF BARONESS CARMEN THYSSEN-BORNEMISZA (LOTS 57 & 109-127)
A LATE LOUIS XV ORMOLU-MOUNTED TULIPWOOD, BOIS SATINE, SYCAMORE, FRUITWOOD MARQUETRY AND PARQUETRY BONHEUR-DU-JOUR

BY JEAN-FRANCOIS LELEU, CIRCA 1764-1770

Details
A LATE LOUIS XV ORMOLU-MOUNTED TULIPWOOD, BOIS SATINE, SYCAMORE, FRUITWOOD MARQUETRY AND PARQUETRY BONHEUR-DU-JOUR
BY JEAN-FRANCOIS LELEU, CIRCA 1764-1770
The top of the superstructure with three-quarter gallery and inlaid with three cartouches of flowers and a laurel wreath, above a central book spine tambour and drawer flanked to each side by a door inlaid with a vase and foliage, the top inlaid with a basket of flowers flanked by panels of flower and trellis parquetry, the frieze similarly inlaid, the reverse quarter veneered, the drawer with a sliding hinged gilt-tooled blue leather-lined writing-surface enclosing a blue silk-lined compartment flanked by a sliding pen compartment fitted with three silvered inkwells, on cabriole legs headed by foliate and floral caps and conforming sabots, stamped twice 'J.F LELEU' and 'JME'
35 ¼ in. (89.5 cm.) high; 30 in. (76 cm.) wide; 19 ¾ in. (48 cm.) deep
Special notice
Prospective purchasers are advised that several countries prohibit the importation of property containing materials from endangered species, including but not limited to coral, ivory and tortoiseshell. Accordingly, prospective purchasers should familiarize themselves with relevant customs regulations prior to bidding if they intend to import this lot into another country. This lot will be removed to Christie’s Park Royal. Christie’s will inform you if the lot has been sent offsite. Our removal and storage of the lot is subject to the terms and conditions of storage which can be found at Christies.com/storage and our fees for storage are set out in the table below - these will apply whether the lot remains with Christie’s or is removed elsewhere. Please call Christie’s Client Service 24 hours in advance to book a collection time at Christie’s Park Royal. All collections from Christie’s Park Royal will be by pre-booked appointment only. Tel: +44 (0)20 7839 9060 Email: cscollectionsuk@christies.com. If the lot remains at Christie’s it will be available for collection on any working day 9.00 am to 5.00 pm. Lots are not available for collection at weekends.

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Lot Essay

Jean-François Leleu, maître 1764.
This important Louis XV marquetry and parquetry bonheur-du-jour of early neoclassical transitional form by Jean-François Leleu, maître in 1764, demonstrates the stylistic similarity between the furniture executed by Leleu in his early career as an independent ébéniste and that of his former master, Jean-François Oeben (maître in 1761), renowned for his mechanical furniture. The sinuous outline of the lower section of this bonheur-du-jour is closely related to a table méchanique by Oeben, formerly in the collection of the marquis d’Argenson, now in the Musée Calouste Gulbenkian (illustrated R. Stratmann-Dohler, Jean-François Oeben 1721-1763, Paris, 2002, p. 28). This table also features virtually identical trellis parquetry on the frieze – evidently a favoured pattern for Oeben and Leleu – found on a table méchanique à deux fins (a combined dressing and writing table) by Oeben, now in the Louvre, and a bureau-a-cylindre by Leleu, circa 1767-70 (ibid., p. 93); sold ‘The Exceptional Sale 2014’, Christies, London, 10 July 2014, lot 38.
The delicate rendition and superb quality of the floral marquetry of this bonheur-du-jour can be compared to Oeben’s floral inlay. Evidently, both were referring to Louis Tessier’s Livre de Principes de Fleurs, first published in 1755, as were other ébénistes such as Jean-Henri Riesener (maître in 1768), another of Oeben’s apprentices. An engraving entitled Livre de corbeilles et vases de fleurs was perhaps the inspiration for the marquetry table top of a further table ‘à deux fins by Leleu, now in the Getty Museum; this table also bears the characteristic trellis parquetry found on the bonheur-du-jour offered here (ibid. pp. 53; 96-97). A near-identical floral marquetry inlay also appears as the central panel of a breakfront commode by Oeben (formerly in the Bensimon collection, ibid. p. 53), and another comparable marquetry tableaux de fleurs, attributed to Oeben, can be seen on a commode probably by Jean-Pierre Latz, maître in circa 1740, supplied to the Dauphine at Choisy in 1756-57 (sold Christie’s, New York, 2 November 2000, lot 20).
In the Wallace Collection there is a combined dressing and writing-table that may date to the very months between Oeben's death and the establishment of Leleu's own workshop (P. Hughes, The Wallace Collection Catalogue of Furniture, London, 1996, Vol. II, No. 210). It is unstamped but bears Leleu's incised name: he probably finished it before obtaining his own stamp but must have wanted to establish his authorship of this superb piece nonetheless. The influence of Oeben is paramount, but in both cases Leleu has created a novel and original piece, taking his master's inspiration a step further and establishing himself as a creative artist.
This bonheur-du-jour is unique in that it is part of a select group of transitional furniture by Leleu. Their number includes: a parquetry table à la Bourgogne, stamped ‘J.F. LELEU’ and ‘JME’ twice, circa 1765, sold Christie’s, London, 10 December 2009, lot 576 (£97,250 inc. premium). Although this table à la bourgogne is stamped Leleu, stylistically both in its overall form, the pattern of the parquetry and even the bronzes dorés it clearly owes much to the oeuvre of Oeben, and a collaboration between these two ébénistes is a strong possibility. Another example is the afore-mentioned ormolu-mounted marquetry and parquetry bureau-a-cylindre sold by Christie’s in 2014. This example displays a related sinuous outline to the apron sides, cabriole legs and similarly combines marquetry and parquetry as found on this bonheur-du-jour. Perhaps in recognition of the imminent Louis XVI full-blown neo-classical style, it incorporates ormolu laurel swag mounts cast with a Greek key motif, while this bonheur-du-jours acknowledgment to neo-classicism is the restrained mounts and the inlaid classical urns on the door fronts of the upper section. A further two bureaux of this period, each adorned with twenty-six Sèvres porcelain plaques, include one in the Huntington Collection, San Marino, which has fifteen plaques bearing the letter date for 1767 (illustrated S.M. Bennett, C. Sargentson, French Art of the Eighteenth Century at The Huntington, New Haven and London, 2008, pp. 84-7, cat. 18). Interestingly, this bureau cylindre has similar ormolu mounts on the sides to this bonheur-du-jour. The second example is in the collection of the musée du Louvre, and contains plaques bearing the mark for both 1767 and 1768 (illustrated D. Alcouffe et al., Furniture Collections in the Louvre, vol. 1, Paris, 1993, pp. 190-93, fig. 60).
Related bonheur-du-jour or bureau de gradin, stamped Leleu, include: a bonheur-du-jour, circa 1774-6, in the Wallace Collection, London (F323), another sold Pierre Bergé & Associés, 10 June 2009, lot 260 and a bureau de gradin sold Versailles Palais des Congrès, 8 November 1987, lot 117. Of these, only the latter is in the transitional form of the present example, and bears comparable mounts flanking the frieze drawer, on the chutes, and sides.

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