3 More
6 More
Please note this lot will be moved to Christie’s F… Read more


With rectangular inset associated portor marble top above Vitruvian scroll frieze on fluted legs headed with acanthus, stamped JOSEPH, stenciled twice with 'SC' for the Château de Saint Cloud and inventory number 21554, the ormolu border to marble top probably added in the Restauration period
33 ½ in. (85 cm.) high; 44 ½ in. (113 cm.) wide; 24 in. (61 cm.) deep
Supplied circa 1755-1758 to Ange-Laurent de Lalive de Jully (1725-1779) for his appartement in his family's hôtel on the rue saint Honoré.
Recorded in 1764 in the cabinet de peintures of Lalive de Jully's hôtel on the rue Ménars and subsequently included in his sale; 5 March 1770, lot 271.
Charles-Joseph Lenoir Du Breuil (1742-1821), recorded in his hôtel on the rue Montmartre in 1787.
Confiscated in 1793 and moved in 1797 to the Musée du Louvre.
Recorded in 1807 in the salon of Emperor Napoleon's apartment in the Château de Saint Cloud.
Sold or gifted from the Garde-Meuble de la Couronne in the 1820s.
Possibly acquired by Eugène I Schneider (1805-1875) or his son Henri Schneider (1840-1898).
Thence by descent to Henri's granddaughter Marie-Zélie Schneider, duchesse de Brissac (1902-1999), and recorded in the family's Paris tel circa 1965.
Wendell Cherry (1935-1991), Louisville, Kentucky and New York.
Acquired from Kraemer, Paris.
A.-L. Lalive de Jully, Catalogue Historique du Cabinet de peinture et sculpture françoise, de M. de Lalive, Introducteur des Ambassadeurs, honoraire de l'Académie Royale de Peinture, Paris, 1764.
L. V. Thiéry, Guide des amateurs et des étrangers voyageurs à Paris, 1787.
S. Eriksen, Early Neo-Classicism in France, London, 1974, p. 197
J.D. Augarde, 'Joseph Baumhauer', L'Estampille/L'Objet d'Art, June 1987, p. 27.
Special notice

Please note this lot will be moved to Christie’s Fine Art Storage Services (CFASS in Red Hook, Brooklyn) at 5pm on the last day of the sale. Lots may not be collected during the day of their move to Christie’s Fine Art Storage Services. Please consult the Lot Collection Notice for collection information. This sheet is available from the Bidder Registration staff, Purchaser Payments or the Packing Desk and will be sent with your invoice.

Brought to you by

Csongor Kis
Csongor Kis AVP, Specialist

Check the condition report or get in touch for additional information about this

If you wish to view the condition report of this lot, please sign in to your account.

Sign in
View condition report

Lot Essay

Joseph Baumhauer, ébéniste privilegié du Roi circa 1749.
Philippe Caffiéri, maître sculpteur in 1754 and maître fondeur en terre et sable in 1755.
This avant garde masterpiece formed part of the most famous and iconic suite of neo-classical furniture created in the 18th century, the fabled ensemble in ebony and gilt-bronze created for the enlightened amateur Ange-Laurent de Lalive de Jully at the astonishingly early date of 1755-1758. Its rigorous, architectural form is inspired by the classical purity of ancient Greece and Rome, with robust columnar legs supporting a dynamic frieze of ‘Vitruvian’ scrolls. The suite caused a sensation in Paris at a time when the whimsy of the Rococo was still en vogue throughout Europe.
Ange-Laurent de Lalive de Jully (1725-1779) was part of an enlightened group of passionate connoisseurs, architects and artists who fell under the spell of classical antiquity in the 1750s. The group included other amateurs such as the comte de Caylus and Madame Geoffrin, the architects Charles de Wailly, Jean-François de Neufforge and Jean-Laurent Le Geay and designers such as Louis-Joseph Le Lorrain and Jean-Charles Delafosse. They exchanged their new ideas at Jacques-François Blondel’s Ecole des Arts in Paris, an energetic counterpart to the more conservative Académie Royale d’Architecture, and also the French Academy in Rome, an inspirational training ground for this new generation of artists and designers. Spurred on by the exciting discoveries at Pompeii and Herculaneum they created a striking new style which was every bit as revolutionary as the rise of modernism in the early 20th century.
Lalive de Jully was the son of the wealthy fermier général Lalive de Bellegarde who was from 1719-20 the Directeur de la Compagnie Française des Indes Orientales and left his son a considerable fortune following his death in 1751. Following the tragically early death of his first wife in 1753, Lalive de Jully remained in the family’s tel on the rue Saint Honoré, where his brother Lalive d’Epinay occupied the premier étage, while he had an appartement on the deuxième ètage, which he commissioned the painter and designer Louis-Joseph Le Lorrain to redesign in this revolutionary new ‘antique’ style. As the engraver Charles-Nicolas Cochin recalled in his memoirs, Le Lorrain ‘donna des dessins bien lourds pour tous les ornements del’appartment de M. de Lalive, amateur riche et qui dessinait un peu. Ils firent d’autant plus de bruit que M. de Caylus les loua avec enthousiasme. De la nous vinrent les guirlandes et les vases’ and went on to describe how the room overlooking the street was ornamented with ‘médaillons avec chutes de fleurs,… de panneaux en relief de plaster représentant des vases et ornements’.
Cochin’s description encapsulates the ornamental vocabulary of the new ‘antique’ style, which soon came to be termed the ‘goût grec’ or ‘à la grecque’, with its garlands, vases and reliefs, but also with his reference to the enthusiastic reception from comte de Caylus to these interiors and the fact that Lalive de Jully also ‘dessinait un peu’, he reveals how much the new style was such a shared enthusiasm among like-minded, passionate connoisseurs.
Louis-Joseph le Lorrain (1714-1759), the painter and designer, was right on the cutting edge of the new ‘antique’ taste. As was de rigeur, he studied at the Academy in Rome, where he stayed for eight years. He returned to Paris steeped in classical antiquity and became a protegé of the influential amateur and saloniste the comte de Caylus, who recommended him over the painter Oudry to design radically neo-classical wall decorations and furniture for Count Tessin’s country house in Sweden as early as 1754. It is conceivable that de Caylus also introduced Le Lorrain to Lalive de Jully to redecorate his hôtel – what is certain is that his immediate and enthusiastic praise gave these groundbreaking interiors instant fame throughout Paris society, leading to a veritable revolution in taste.
As with Count Tessin, Le Lorrain not only designed the interiors for Lalive de Jully, but also furniture, including perhaps the most radically neo-classical suite of furniture ever conceived, which arrived with an absolutely explosive effect in 1750s Paris. The suite is a dramatic interplay of black and gold, with the ebony ground playing off against dramatically sculptural ‘antique’ bronzes by Philippe Caffiéri, son of the celebrated Rococo bronzier Jacques, with monumental laurel swags, lion masks and friezes of ‘Vitruvian’ scrolls and Greek key. It is more architecture than furniture, and that was the intended effect. The furniture created by the great genius of the Louis XIV era, André-Charles Boulle, with its equally striking use of ebony and sculptural ormolu, was perhaps the initial inspiration, but with a radically different effect, looking to the future as much as being indebted to the past.
The suite included:
-its pièce de resistance, a spectacular eight-legged bureau plat and cartonnier, now in the Musée Condé, château de Chantilly (acquired by the duc d’Aumale at the Hamilton Palace sale in 1882)
- a fauteuil de bureau (present whereabouts unknown)
-the table offered here, originally with porphyry top
-a table with verd antique marble top of the same design as this table but longer and narrower and with additional swags (almost certainly recorded in the Royal Palace, Berlin in the early 20th century)
-a coquiller, an enormous cabinet to house Lalive’s extraordinary collection of shells which was subsequently broken up probably into four separate cabinets which have now been recorded as follows; one sold from the collection of the marquess of Cholmondeley, Houghton, Christie’s, London, 8 December 1994, lot 80; one previously in the collection of Emilio Terry, château de Rochecotte, subsequently sold Christie’s, London, 7 December 1995, lot 80; two now veneered in mahogany, sold from the collection of Paul Dutasta; Galerie Georges Petit, Paris, 3-4 June 1926, lots 177-8, now in a private collection, France.
Although the exact year of the creation of this extraordinary suite is not recorded, the celebrated portrait of Lalive de Jully by Jean-Baptiste Greuze which was exhibited at the Salon in 1759, depicting him as a veritable new Apollo of the Arts, playing the harp beside the fauteuil de bureau and the bureau plat, indicates that at least these two items from the suite were in existence by this date. It is also known that Le Lorrain was in contact with Lalive at least as early as 1755 as in that year he exhibited in the Salon a picture of Saint Elizabeth, which was intended for the mausoleum of Lalive's first wife, who had died in 1753, therefore a date of 1755-1758 is certainly plausible for at least the bureau plat, fauteuil de bureau and the two center tables (including the one offered here).
Lalive de Jully remarried in 1762, to Marie-Elisabeth de Nettine sister of the fabulously wealthy court banker Jean-Joseph de Laborde, and soon after acquired the hôtel of Président Duret de Mesnières on the corner of the rue Ménars and the rue de Richelieu. He employed the architect Barreau de Chefdeville to create new à la grecque interiors for him, and after they were completed in 1764 Lalive published his Catalogue historique du cabinet de peinture et sculpture française where he makes it clear how the new style he had helped to create had now spread like wildfire in Paris, while he also confirms Le Lorrain, who had tragically died in Russia in 1759, as the designer of the suite of furniture:
‘Ce cabinet est orné de meubles composé dans le style antique, ou, pour me servir du mot dont on abuse si fort actuellement, dans le goût grec ; c’est même depuis l’exécution de ce Cabinet que c’est répandu ce goût d’ouvrages à la grecque…..
…Les meubles ont été exécutés sur les desseins de LE LORAIN [sic]…Cet artiste avoit un goût particulier pour la décoration…’
Given that the coquiller in its original form was over 20 feet long and therefore more a piece of fitted architecture than a piece of furniture, it is more likely that it was created expressly for Lalive's new hôtel circa 1762-4, using Le Lorrain's designs from the 1750s. This seems to be confirmed by the fact that Dezallier d'Argenville, another noted collector of shells, did not mention Lalive's shell collection in the 1757 second edition of his Traité de Conchylogie where he described many of the great shell collections of Paris, including those of the duc de Chaulnes and the duc de Sully, nor did he mention the coquiller in his description of Lalive's collection in rue Saint Honoré in his Voyage Pittoresque de Paris of 1757. However shell-collecting was evidently already a passion of Lalive's by this time, as his sister-in-law madame d'Epinay wrote in 1758 to the comte de Luc '..Je viens d'acheter le reste du cabinet de M. de Jalabert...tout ce qui est coquillage...naturel pour M. de Jully'- a fascinating insight into the trading of collections between amateurs at the time.
In the main salon of the hôtel on rue Ménars was a Boulle bibliothèque which Lalive had bought from Lazare Duvaux in 1756, showing like many of his contemporaries a love for Boulle furniture which was so important to the aesthetic of the new style. Indeed close analysis by Christie’s of this table has revealed that it is likely that the angle mounts and possibly even the legs are in fact Louis XIV in date and therefore by Boulle himself, as this model of angle mount features frequently on console tables in his oeuvre, and then used by Joseph so effectively. This room led into a cabinet hung with his collection of Old Masters, with a white marble fireplace with ormolu lion-masks, possibly by Caffiéri and echoing those of the famous bureau plat, alongside which was Augustin Pajou’s sculpture ‘Allegory of Painting’ placed in a niche on a semi-circular pedestal, while above the niche and the entrance door were two further bas-reliefs by Pajou, emblematic of painting and sculpture.
There exist a number of designs and engravings which clearly relate to this iconic suite of furniture and which also give fascinating insights into this radical stylistic break with the past.
These include drawings of the fauteuil de bureau, the coquiller (with the addition of a sloping superstructure) and three tables exhibiting many of the characteristics of the table offered here and the bureau plat from the suite- massive legs, laurel swags and Greek key and ‘Vitruvian’ scroll friezes. A group of engravings is in the Victoria and Albert Museum, which Simon Jervis has convincingly argued were drawn by Le Lorrain and engraved by Lalive de Jully himself (see S. Jervis, ‘Two Unknown Suites of Early Neo-Classical Designs’, Burlington Magazine, June 1984, pp. 343-7). The drawings are in an album of designs by the little known J. Houdan in the Boulton Archives in Great Tew (see H. Roberts, ‘A postcript to Lalive de Jully’s furniture ‘à la grecque’, Burlington Magazine, May 1989, pp. 350-3), where Roberts suggests that Houdan was copying the Le Lorrain/ Lalive engravings, perhaps to show to other like-minded cognoscenti.
None of these drawings or engravings copy exactly any of the furniture as it was eventually produced, but given the extremely experimental nature of this suite of furniture, this is perhaps to be expected- they are in effect the prototypes of this groundbreaking moment in the history of design, a discussion document between the artist and his patron.
Lalive sadly subsequently suffered from depression and his wife was forced to sell the collection in a sale which lasted over ten days from 5-16 March 1770. The two tables with their verd antique and porphyry tops were sold in a special section of the sale devoted to works by Philippe Caffiéri (thus further confirming the attribution of the gilt bronzes) as lots 270 and 271, following the coquiller, lot 268, and the bureau with its fauteuil, lot 269.
The tables were described as follows:
270- Une table de verd antique de 4 pieds 3 pouces de longueur, sur 20 pouces de largeur, renfermée dans un pied à quatre gaines, orné de postes [vitruvian scrolls], canaux creux [fluting], feuilles de refends, guirlandes d’olives dorés dor moulu.
(these measurements equate to 54 in., 137 cm. wide and 21 ¼ in., 54 cm. deep)
271- Une table de porphyre de 3 pieds 5 pouces, sur 1 pied 10 pouces de large & un pouce d’épaisseur : il lui est arrivé un accident qui a été bien réparé, elle est posée sur un pied à 4 gaines orné de bronze dorés dor moulu dans le style de la précédente, sans aucunes guirlandes dolivies, ni lauriers’.
(these measurements equate to 43 ½ in., 110.7 cm. wide and 23 ½ in., 59.4 cm. deep, almost exactly the measurements of our table)
It is fascinating to note that the catalogue descriptions specifically detailed the thickness of the porphyry top, which explains the unusually massive construction of the frieze and legs of our table; and the fact that the porphyry was damaged and repaired, which accounts for why it was subsequently replaced. The cataloguer was careful to note that whereas the first and larger table was further ornamented with garlands, these additional ornaments did not feature on our table. On both tables the legs were given the distinctively architectural description of ‘gaines’ (or pedestals)- the same term was used to describe the legs of the bureau plat and evidently refers to their unusually powerful proportions.
Lot 270 was bought by an ‘envoyé de Saxe’ and evidently remained in the same German royal collection as a table of the same desgin complete with its swags is recorded in an early 20th century photograph in the Royal Palace in Berlin.
Our table, lot 271, was also marked in the catalogue as being bought by the same ‘envoyé de Saxe’, but perhaps he had a change of heart as it is subsequently recorded in the collection of the eminent amateur Charles-Joseph Lenoir Du Breuil, (1742-1821), one of the most sophisticated collectors of the final years of the ancien régime. Born into a family of wealthy financiers, he was the son of Jacques-Joseph Lenoir, who was Directeur des Fermes and from 1760-1779 Trésorier des Dons et Aumônes du Roi.
Luc Vincent Thiéry, in his Guide des amateurs et des étrangers voyageurs à Paris of 1787 described what was almost certainly this table in Du Breuil’s cabinet in his hôtel on the rue Montmartre, revealed that Du Breuil, like many of his contemporary collectors, was particularly passionate about hardstones:
M. Lenoir Dubreuil sest formé depuis quelqes années un cabinet précieux par les morceaux capitaux quil a rassemblés, dont dans son cabinet composé de trois pièces…sur une autre table de porphyre placée entre les croisées sont deux vases de marbre vert antique…
Like Lalive, Du Breuil was also an avid collector of Boulle, and a number of his pieces can be identified in museum collections, including a pair of médaillers in the Mobilier National and a pair of bas d'armoires in the Louvre (OA 54453-4), while he also owned a commode by Boulle of the celebrated model made for the Trianon. He bought at many of the great collection sales of the day, including those of Radix de Sainte Foy in 1782 and the comte de Merle in 1784.
Du Breuil’s collection was seized in the Revolution in 1793 when the table was recorded in the gallery of his tel described as
Une table de porphyre rouge de la plus belle qualité et conservation placée sur un pied debène ; hauteur totale 2 pieds 9 pouces [89.3cm] ; largeur du porphyre 3 pieds 1 ligne [97.4 cm] ; profondeur 22 pouces [59.4 cm) ; epaisseur 1 pouce et au dessous encore 2 pouces taille en biseau
It is fascinating that this description even described the way the underside of the porphyry was beveled (’en biseau’) to be able to sit in the frame of the table, which one can clearly see in the way that the inner edge of the oak frieze of the table has been cut on an angle to accommodate the top. The discrepancy of the length given of the porphyry top in this description and the 1770 sale could be explained by the fact that the sale cataloguer perhaps measured the overall length of the table, rather than that of the marble top itself.
In another description of Du Breuil’s collection the top and base were evidently separated and described as follows :
Au premier, dans la pièce du fondun pied de table en ébène, garni de bronze doré de 3 pi[ieds] 4 po[uces] de long [108.3 cm] sur 1 pi[ed] 8 po[uces] de large [54.1 cm]’ while three porphyry tops were separately described on the ground floor, along with two others of ‘porphire verd’.
The fact that the porphyry top and its base had been separated explains why the first description was so precise regarding the undercutting and thickness of the porphyry.
The table was sent to the Dépôt de Nesle and was reserved for the newly-formed Musée du Louvre which had been opened by the Revolutionary government in August 1793, and was sent there in 1797.
The stenciled inventory number 'St. C' and ‘21554’ on the inside of the frieze reveals that the table was subsequently taken to furnish the château de Saint Cloud for Napoleon Bonaparte. The château had special significance for Napoleon, as he had declared the establishment of the Consulat there in 1799 before being crowned as Emperor at Saint Cloud in 1804, making it the central seat of his government. He started renovating the château in 1801 and the table is recorded in his salon in 1807, described as:
Une console en ébène à pieds cannelés, avec ornements en cuivre doré dor moulu, à dessus de marbre porphyre …’
It was valued at 1000 Francs. The porphyry top, with its origins in Egypt and its connotations of ancient Imperial grandeur, must have been of particular attraction to the newly-crowned Emperor.
Following the restoration of the monarchy, Lenoir Du Breuil returned to Paris after a lengthy exile in Italy, but the table was not restituted to him, following an edict from the king preventing the restitution of works of art to ‘emigrés’, to facilitate the refurnishing of the royal palaces. The table was subsequently sold or gifted in the 1820s, at which time it is likely it was separated from its porphyry top and the current ormolu border added.
The table then disappears from sight until remerging in the 20th century in the collection of the Schneider family, wealthy industrialists in whose Paris hôtel it can be seen in a watercolor by Serebriakov from 1965 in the grand salon, along with other treasures including the Vincennes porcelain clock with bronzes by Duplessis made for Machault d’Arnouville (recently sold at Christie’s, New York, 14 October 2020, lot 24). The table was subsequently sold privately and is next recorded in the celebrated collection formed by Wendell Cherry, much of which was sold at auction in 1994, although the sale did not include this precious and iconic table.
Christie's would like to thank Patrick Leperlier and Alexandre Pradère for their invaluable help in preparing this catalogue entry.

More from La Rêverie: The Collection of Sydell Miller

View All
View All