A MATCHED PAIR OF LOUIS XIV ORMOLU-MOUNTED AND BRASS-INLAID BROWN TORTOISESHELL BOULLE MARQUETRY AND EBONY PIER TABLES
A MATCHED PAIR OF LOUIS XIV ORMOLU-MOUNTED AND BRASS-INLAID BROWN TORTOISESHELL BOULLE MARQUETRY AND EBONY PIER TABLES
A MATCHED PAIR OF LOUIS XIV ORMOLU-MOUNTED AND BRASS-INLAID BROWN TORTOISESHELL BOULLE MARQUETRY AND EBONY PIER TABLES
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A MATCHED PAIR OF LOUIS XIV ORMOLU-MOUNTED AND BRASS-INLAID BROWN TORTOISESHELL BOULLE MARQUETRY AND EBONY PIER TABLES
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Prospective purchasers are advised that several co… Read more PROPERTY FROM A DISTINGUISHED EUROPEAN PRIVATE COLLECTION (lots 118-131)
A MATCHED PAIR OF LOUIS XIV ORMOLU-MOUNTED AND BRASS-INLAID BROWN TORTOISESHELL BOULLE MARQUETRY AND EBONY PIER TABLES

ATTRIBUTED TO ANDRE-CHARLES BOULLE, CIRCA 1710-1720

Details
A MATCHED PAIR OF LOUIS XIV ORMOLU-MOUNTED AND BRASS-INLAID BROWN TORTOISESHELL BOULLE MARQUETRY AND EBONY PIER TABLES
ATTRIBUTED TO ANDRE-CHARLES BOULLE, CIRCA 1710-1720
Each inlaid in première and contre-partie, the rounded rectangular breakfront top decorated with a central ox-drawn chariot with playful putti on a swing, beneath a vine-clad canopy with satyrs and singeries, all within scrolling foliate arabesques, the gadrooned and foliate edge above a central walnut-lined frieze drawer with female mask escutcheon fanked by arabesques and satyr masks,
fanked by further arabesque panels within channelled border mounts, on similarly decorated cabriole legs and lambrequin-headed facetted tapering legs with scrolled acanthus and spirally gadrooned feet respectively, the six legs joined by pierced and interlaced stretchers with circular gadrooned platform centred by a later berried fnial, the contre-partie console with plain ebonised frieze to reverse inlaid with brass banding, with label inscribed ‘8639’, minor restorations

The première partie console: 30 in. (76.5 cm.) high; 46O in. (118 cm.) wide; 19 in. (48 cm.) deep
The contre partie console: 30O in. (77.5 cm.) high; 46O in. (118 cm.) wide; 19 in. (48 cm.) dee p
Provenance
Possibly acquired by the duchesse de Noailles, née Marie-Françoise de Bournonville (d. 1748), widow of Anne-Jules, 2nd duc de Noailles (1650-1708), for the recently acquired Hôtel de Noailles, rue Saint Honoré, Paris, and by descent with the dukes of Noailles until 1793 when the Hôtel was seized by the Revolutionary troops; listed in the ground foor anteroom of the duc de Noailles, ‘deux petites tables à six pieds, à consoles et quilles enrichies de bronze, le dessus en marqueterie, 700 livres’. Apparently not part of the furniture confscated by the Commission des Monuments, and therefore not integrated into the guarde meuble impérial (subsequently garde meuble royal) but sold and conceivably acquired back for the refurbishment of the Hôtel during the occupation, possibly by the third Consul, Charles-François Lebrun, or
Acquired by Francis Egerton, 8th Earl of Bridgwater (1756-1829), following his 1815 purchase of the Hôtel de Noailles, from Jean-Paul-François, 5th duc de Noailles (1739-1823) following restitution of the Noailles estates under Louis XVIII in 1814; listed separately from the main inventory following Egerton’s death in 1829, ‘deux consoles en Boule, coins arrondis mascaron et moulure en bronze et incrustation en marqueterie, 400F’, as part of the items not to be sold in Paris but to be returned to his English family seat at
Ashridge, Hertfordshire.
Sophia Hume (d. 1814), wife of John, 2nd Baron and 1st Earl Brownlow, at Ashridge Park, Hertfordshire
and by descent to their grandson,
Adelbert Wellington, 3rd Earl Brownlow (1844-1921), Ashridge Park, Hertfordshire, and sold Christie’s,
London, 3 May 1923, lot 87 (to Claude Partridge).
Acquired from Jacques Helft, 28 September 1923, by either Georges Wildenstein or his son Daniel Wildenstein.
Sold Christie’s, London, ‘The Wildenstein Collection’, 14-15 December 2005, lot 10, where acquired by
the present owner.
Literature
A. Pradère, ‘L’hôtel de Noailles rue Saint-Honoré de Louis XIV à la Restauration (1712-1829)’, in ‘Bulletin de la Société de l’Histoire de l’Art français’, annual revue 2010.

A. Pradère, Les Ebénistes Français de Louis XIV à la Revolution, Paris, 1989, p. 107, 275-6.
P. Hughes, The Wallace Collection, catalogue of Furniture, vol. II, London, 1996, p.757, (F424), note 9, no’s 11 and 12.
J.N. Ronfort, André Charles Boulle 1642-1732: a New Style for Europe, 2012, cat. 11a and b.



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.

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Lot Essay

Closely modelled on André-Charles Boulle’s original design for such tables and featuring spectacular marquetry tops, this rare surviving pair of console tables can possibly be traced back to its 18th century original proprietor, the duc de Noailles. While it has to remain speculation whether these tables are the ones described in 1794 in the ground foor ante room of the duc’s residence, the Hôtel de Noailles on rue Saint Honoré, they can without doubt be identifed as the pair recorded about two decades later in the same magnifcent Parisian Hôtel with the subsequent owner, Francis Egerton, 8th Earl of Bridgwater, who had acquired the Hôtel from the duc’s heirs in 1815.

THE FRENCH PROVENANCE

Listed in 1794 in the ground foor anteroom of the duc de Noailles’ Hôtel on rue Saint Honoré as part of an inventory drawn up in preparation for confscation and sale and priced at 700 livres, are a pair of console tables described as ‘deux petites tables à six pieds, à consoles et quilles enrichies de bronze, le dessus en marqueterie’, clearly identifying them as a pair of Boulle console tables of this model. And while the magnifcent building was commandeered for subsequent use by the Third Consul it is intriguing to note, that the next owner of the house, the eccentric English aristocrat Francis Egerton, 8th Earl of Bridgwater, who had bought the house at the Restauration (in 1815) from the next duc de Noailles, also had a pair of such Boulle consoles, which he subsequently bequeathed to his heirs at the family estate of Ashridge. Following his death in 1829 they were listed briefy – separately from the main inventory of items destined for auction in Paris – with those items intended to be returned to England, ‘deux consoles en Boule, coins arrondis mascaron et moulure en bronze et incrustation en marqueterie, 400F’. While it remains speculation whether the two pairs of consoles, listed in the same spectacular Parisian Hôtel just two decades apart, are in fact one and the same, it is worth noting that the consoles were not – like most of the Noailles’ Boulle furniture at the house – incorporated into the French national collections, then the garde meuble impérial and subsequently the garde meuble royal (all now at Versailles), but to have been sold separately and possibly indeed kept at the house.

The Hôtel de Noailles was one of the most spectacular aristocratic Parisian residences. With a façade stretching over 70 meter it was built in 1687 originally for Henry Pussort, the maternal uncle of Colbert, and became the Parisian residence of the infuential Noailles family, comte Adrien-Maurice de Noailles, husband of Francoise d’ Aubigne, niece and heiress of Madame de Maintenon.

See A. Pradère, ‘L’hôtel de Noailles rue Saint-Honoré de Louis XIV à la Restauration (1712-1829)’, in ‘Bulletin de la Société de l’Histoire de l’Art français’, annual revue 2010.

THE ENGLISH PROVENANCE

Francis Egerton, 8th Earl of Bridgwater (1756-1829), succeeded to the title on the death of his frst cousin, General John William Egerton, 7th Earl of Bridgwater (1753-1823). A noted eccentric, the 8th Earl was famous for giving dinner parties for dogs, dressed in the latest fashions, and for wearing a new pair of shoes each day and placing the worn pair in a row to track the passage of time. He donated a valuable collection of manuscripts to the British Library and established the Egerton Fund that has enabled the purchase of an additional 3,800 manuscripts, while his valuable estate descended to his nephew, John Hume Cust, Viscount Alford (d. 1851), son of Amelia Sophia Hume (niece of the 7th and 8th Earl) and Sir John Cust, 1st Earl Brownlow, at Ashridge, Hertfordshire.

As will be discussed further below, the consoles described in the Brownlow sale of 1923, lot 87, can confdently be identifed as the present pair: ‘A PAIR OF BOULLE CONSOLE-TABLES, inlaid with Cupid in a chariot drawn by oxen, and with grotesque masks in brass on red tortoiseshell, the frieze and cabriole legs inlaid with tortoiseshell on white metal ground, and mounted with or-molu foliage borders and female masks, with plate glass tops.’

Ashridge was built on the site of a 13th century monastery. After the Dissolution, it became the residence of Royalty, then passing into the Egerton family during the reign of James I. The house was rebuilt by John William Egerton, 7th Earl of Bridgwater (1752-1823), between 1808 and 1820, after designs by James Wyatt and completed after his death by his nephew Jeffry Wyatt, later
Sir Jeffry Wyatville. In employing such a progressive architect (Wyattville is best known for his transformation of Windsor Castle in the gothic style for George IV) Egerton was in the vanguard of contemporary taste.

A tempting parallel can also be drawn with the Francophile tastes of another Egerton connection – the Duke of Bridgwater. The latter had bought en bloc the fnest Italian paintings from the fabled Orléans Collections. Perhaps he also acquired French furniture as part of this, or a related transaction? The Orléans pictures subsequently descended into the collections of the Dukes of Sutherland
and the Earls of Ellesmere.

BOULLE’S CONSOLE TABLES

The 18th century description of these tables varies, but in the Déclaration somptuaire d’André-Charles Boulle of 1700, ‘deux bureaux de marqueterie, ornements de cuivre doré, quatre bureaux de marqueterie avec ornements de cuivre doré’ are listed, clearly identifying that at least two different models were already in production at this time. In 1727, the Inventory drawn up following the death of Paulin Pondre records ‘deux petits bureaux d’ébéne à marqueterie de cuivre à un tiroir sur leur pied de pareille marqueterie d’écaille avec les tapis de maroquin couleur citron 400 livres’. Whether these were in fact tables, consoles or bureaux remains unclear owing to the terminology employed and this confusion is further reinforced by the same inventory, in which deux petites tables en bureau de marbre portor, 118 cm. (46½ in.) wide are described and these would appear to be what we would now describe as consoles. Interestingly, the celebrated commodes by Boulle delivered to Louis XIV for the Grand Trianon in 1708 were then also described as ‘bureaux’.

The design for these tables follows in all essentials and many details the drawing ascribed to André-Charles Boulle now in the musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris (reproduced in P. Verlet, Les Ebénistes du XVIIIe Siècle Français, Paris, 1963, p.34, fg.2). The design was later engraved and in the process considerably coarsened, appearing on Plate 5 of Nouveaux Desseins de meubles....inventés par André-Charles Boulle, chez Mariette, entitled Grand Table.

This model dates from the very frst years of the 18th century. Professor Lunsingh
Scheuleer has drawn a parallel between the design of the marquetry tops of
some of the tables within this group and the table created for the Menagerie
at Versailles in 1701. In order to amuse his granddaughter, the duchesse de
Bourgogne, who was still a child, Louis XIV - who wished ‘la jeunesse répondue
partout’ – commissioned a new decorative scheme. Several pieces of furniture
were delivered by Boulle including a table with a top decorated ‘dans le milieu
un amour sur une escarpolette balancée par deux amours et un berger jouant de
la musette, le reste remplis de fgures et animaux grotesques et ornemens’.

Tracings of table tops depicting the ‘Triumphal Car’ and ‘Birdcage’ marquetry tops are preserved at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and, previously thought to be contemporary templates, these are discussed and illustrated in Richard H. Randall Jr., ‘Templates for Boulle singerie’, The Burlington Magazine, September, 1969, pp.549-553. Close study of these sheets has, however, exposed some lines to be the joint lines of tortoiseshell sheets, identifying these as tracings made from existing marquetry tops rather than templates for the cutting of these.

Of the tables of this overall form, three sub-groups can be clearly identifed.

The first, earliest and largest group – including the present pair – distinguishes itself by being the closest to the original design, with satyr-masks on the front legs, the marquetry tops all inlaid with either the ‘Triumphal Chariot’ or the ‘Birdcage’ design.

The second and slightly later group of tables have female-masks heading the legs, are generally slightly larger and have a more elaborately shaped frieze drawer.

The third and fnal group are entirely the product of Louis XV mid-18th century ébénistes responding to popular demand, several of which are executed by Adrien Dubois.

PAIRS OF BOULLE’S CONSOLES

Consoles of this model seem to appear quite frequently in 18th century sales, with three such tables included in the Julienne sale in 1767 (lots 1642, 1648 and 1649); one in contrepartie, in the Dubois sale in 1785 (lot 215); another in the Chevalier Lambert sale in 1787 (lot 310) and yet another was sold anonymously in Paris, 18 April 1770 (lot 311). And while it appears that Boulle did not design these consoles in pairs, from around 1750-1760 several are documented in the collections of some of the time’s great connoisseurs,
including Gaignat, Randon de Boisset, Duruet, Senozant and the ducs de Luynes and de Noailles.

Of the earliest group of tables discussed above, with satyr masks and closest in design to Boulle’s original design, the documented pairs include:

– Two in the Wallace Collection, illustrated in P. Hughes, The Wallace Collection, Catalogue of Furniture, vol. II, London, 1996, p.750-760, no. 160 (F425) and F425, stamped by Dubois and Leleu respectively – both with marquetry tops, depicting the ‘Triumphal Chariot’ and the ‘Birdcage’ design respectively.

– The present pair, sold frst from the collection of Lord Brownlow, Christie’s, London, 4-7 Mai 1923, lot 87; and again from the Wildenstein Collection, Christie’s, London, 14-15 December 2005, lot 10: pair with marquetry tops – both with marquetry tops depicting the ‘Triumphal Chariot’.

– A pair originally in the collection of May, Princesse de Faucigny-Lucinge, sold Paris, 12 June 1953, lot 20; subsequently sold from the Akkram Ojjeh Collection, Christie’s Monaco, 11 December 1999, lot 45 (7,727,500 Ffr.); exhibited with Galerie Maurice Ségoura at the Biennale des Antiquaires de Paris, 1982 – pair with marquetry tops, both depicting the ‘Birdcage’ design.

– A pair at Grimsthorpe Castle, England, frst listed at Grimsthorpe in the 1813 Inventory (illustrated in A. Pradère, ‘Le bureau de Cressent à Grimsthorpe’, L’Estampille L’Objet d’Art, July 1999, p. 61, in contre partie, stamped ‘Dubois’), – with marquetry tops, both with the ‘Birdcage’ design.

– Residenzschloss Weimar, illustrated in R. Bothe, Möbel, Uhren, Reliefntarsien, Kunstsamlungen zu Weimar, Berlin, 2001 – a pair with marquetry tops, both the ‘Birdcage’ design.

– Private collection, Paris, possibly formerly Collection Jules Strauss, illustrated A. Theunissen, Meubles et Sièges du XVIIIe siècle, 1933, p.59 – a pair with marble tops.

While Christie’s 1923 catalogue of the Brownlow Collection was not illustrated and the description fairly brief, the above listing of the documented pairs of Boulle consoles with marquetry tops clearly affrms the identifcation of the Ashridge/Brownlow tables as the present pair.

A further variant of this form of table, but with a leather top, known as a table en bureau - was introduced circa 1700 and forms the prototype for Boulle’s marquetry bureaux plats. This includes that from the Riahi Collection, sold Christie’s, New York, 2 November 2000, lot 39 ($2,536,000); another, formerly in the collection of Jules Strauss, mentioned by A. Theunissen in Meubles et Sièges, Paris 1933, p.59 (this table had traces of Boulle marquetry to the reverse and a later marble top); and that now in the Bayerisches Nationalmuseum, illustrated in Kurfurst Max Emmanuel, Munich, 1976, p.179. This table en bureau was originally at the Residenz, Munich and is discussed in B. Langer, Die Möbel der Residenz, Munich, 1995, Vol.1, pp 254-6. This latter table was already recorded in the Residenz, Munich by 1769, when it was listed in the Inventory of the apartments of the Kaiserin Marie Amélie (1701- 1756), widow of the Kurfurst Carl Albrecht, who ruled as Kaiser from 1742-45.

CONSTRUCTIONAL OBSERVATIONS

Both of our tables are decorated with Boulle marquetry to the reverse, suggesting that they were intended to be placed or used as bureaux either in the middle of a room, or in a window bay. Whilst one has a relatively plain goût Grec line decoration which could conceivably refect the intervention of a marchand such as Julliot in the third quarter of the 18th century, the other has a beautifully drawn première partie marquetry panel. This latter panel is of identical design to the side table in the Wallace Collection (F424) – which also displays the apparent anomaly of only having brass line inlay to the reverse of the front stretchers not the back stretcher. This exact template of marquetry was also employed on the Byng table sold from the Riahi Collection, Christie’s, New York, 2 November 2000, lot 39.


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