Jacques Dubois, maître in 1742.
JACQUES DUBOIS (1694—1763)
Relatively little is known about Jacques Dubois’s life, except that he was the half-brother of Noël Gérard, considered one of the most important Parisian ébénistes of the Régence period, in whose workshop it is assumed that he trained. He achieved his maîtres relatively late in life in 1742, was elected a juré of the guild and then died suddenly in 1763 having been appointed Jean-François Oeben’s replacement. Study of the inventory after his death reveals Dubois oversaw a large workshop - with twelve workbenches - and a shop, and the varied list of furniture in his workshop at the time demonstrates his talents were not just in one form. He is known to have developed close relationships with the marchands-merciers Antoine-Nicolas-Joseph Bertin and Pierre Migeon II and this commode, with its superb Japanese lacquer decoration lacquer, would almost certainly have been commissioned through the intervention of one of these fashionable dealers.
Dubois is probably best known for his use of Asian lacquer to enrich commodes and encoignures, in particular a small group of commodes decorated completely with Chinese lacquer and richly adorned with scrolling foliate mounts in the form of a cartouche border. Two examples of this model, thought to have been made as a pair, have been offered separately at Christie’s in recent years, one from the Collection of Lewis and Ali Sanders; sold Christie’s, New York, 29 October 2019, lot 1144 ($112,500 including premium) and the other formerly with Segoura and illustrated in A. Pradère, Les Ebénistes Français de Louis XIV à la Révolution, Paris, 1989, p. 170, fig. 147. His masterpiece is considered to be an impressive encoignure with a tiered superstructure surmounted by an ormolu clock ordered by the marchand-mercier Lullier of Warsaw in 1753 for Count Klemens Brenicki (1689-1772) which was later owned by Baron Nathaniel de Rothschild and is now in the J. Paul Getty Museum; it is illustrated in C. Bremmer-David, Decorative Arts An Illustrated Summary Catalogue of the Collections of the J. Paul Getty Museum, Malibu, 1993, no. 35, pp. 31-32.
CATALINA VON PANNWITZ
Catalina Roth (1876-1959) was the daughter of a wealthy German-Argentine heiress, and surrounded herself with an impressive art collection which included Rembrandt's Abraham and the Angels. In 1908 she married Walter von Pannwitz (1856-1920) a distinguished lawyer in Munich from a Silesian noble family. They had independently assembled significant art collections with the advice of some of Germany’s most learned art historians including Max Friedländer and Wilhelm von Bode (1845-1929). Their home from 1914 was a large mansion in Berlin known as Palais Pannwitz that was later transformed into a luxury hotel by Karl Lagerfeld.
Upon Walter’s death in 1920 Catalina moved with the collection to Hartekamp, a large country villa in the North Netherlands where she established a social hub for the European aristocracy, which included her close friend Kaiser Wilhelm II (1859-1941). In 1947 her collection, comprising mainly French decorative arts and old master paintings, was exhibited at the Rijksmuseum, where it was much admired and praised in the press. The present commode is visible in a contemporary photograph of the exhibition published in the press, alongside an impressive Louis XV ormolu cartel clock by Charles Cressant, sold in Provenance Revealed: Galerie Steinitz, Christie’s, London, 21 September 2022, lot 10 (£151,200 including premium).