This cabinet is closely related to a splendid Japanese lacquer-mounted commode by Martin Carlin delivered in 1785 to Madame Victoire, daughter of Louis XV, for her use in the grand cabinet at the Château de Bellevue and today in the collections of the Louvre (OA 5498). It was part of a larger suite of lacquer furniture the princess received at Bellevue including a console table, a writing table, an occasional table and a pair of encoignures, most of which are also in the collections of the Louvre.
Lacquer-mounted furniture was very fashionable in the late 18th century. Parisian dealers, the marchands-merciers, specialized in the creation of furniture and objets d’art for a sophisticated clientele which incorporated elaborate Japanese and Chinese lacquer panels. Often appropriated from screens and boxes, the rich lacquer panels were then mounted onto furniture constructed in France and enriched with splendid gilt bronze mounts. The Carlin commode, delivered to the princess by the marchands-merciers, the Darnault brothers, was clearly a prized possession even after the fall of the Ancien Régime, as it is recorded in Napoleon’s apartments at the Palais de Tuileries and the Château de Fontainebleau.
In the mid-19th century, Empress Eugénie's appreciation of Louis XVI furniture from the Ancien Régime stimulated a fashionable revival for French Royal furniture and the leading makers produced elaborate replicas of some of the most famed pieces from the end of the preceding century. The original commode was almost certainly copied for the first time as a result of being removed from the Tuileries to be transferred to the Louvre from the Mobilier national in 1870, thus escaping the disastrous fire there in May 1871. A related pair of lacquer commodes, circa 1870, were in the collection of Baron Mayer de Rothschild or his daughter, Hannah, later Countess of Rosebery at Mentmore, Buckinghamshire, and sold from the property, Sotheby's, 18 May 1977, lot 57.
THE BEURDELEY DYNASTY
Jean Beurdeley (1772-1853) founded a celebrated shop at the pavilion de Hanovre in Paris and established the family's reputation as a purveyor of fine furniture in the French capital. In 1840, Louis-Auguste-Alfred (dit Alfred I) Beurdeley (1808-1882) officially succeeded his father and began to create a wide variety of furniture and objects which both reprised the work of 18th century masters and were extremely original in their own right. The A BEURDELEY / A PARIS stamp is first associated with the work Louis-Auguste-Alfred. Louis-Auguste-Alfred's son, Emmanuel-Alfred (dit Alfred II) Beurdeley (1847-1919) succeeded his father in 1875.
Beurdeley specialised in producing the most luxurious articles to the highest quality and was pre-eminent among the Parisian ébénistes, especially for the refinement of his ormolu. Using only the most magnificent models, he took as his reference articles from the Garde-Meuble National, which incorporated the remaining collections from the former Royal Palaces. He exhibited at the major International Exhibitions, including Paris in 1878 and Amsterdam in 1883, at the Chicago World's Fair in 1893, and was awarded the Gold Medal at the Paris Exposition universelle of 1889. The workshops were closed in 1895 and a series of five public auctions took place between 19th October 1897 and 24th May 1898, amounting to some 2000 lots from the Pavillion du Hanovre and the workshops on the rue d'Autencourt in the 17e arrondissement.