A NEAR PAIR OF LOUIS XV ORMOLU-MOUNTED BOIS SATINE AND AMARANTH COMMODES
A NEAR PAIR OF LOUIS XV ORMOLU-MOUNTED BOIS SATINE AND AMARANTH COMMODES

BY CHARLES CRESSENT, CIRCA 1740

Details
A NEAR PAIR OF LOUIS XV ORMOLU-MOUNTED BOIS SATINE AND AMARANTH COMMODES
BY CHARLES CRESSENT, CIRCA 1740
Each with a serpentine marble top, one Brèche d'Alep and the other Rouge de Maine, above two drawers decorated with a central banded shaped cartouche flanked by C-scrolls and centred at the top by a rocaille cabochon suspending a foliate trail with roses and sunflowers, flanked by foliate handles, the angles headed by trellis and acanthus chutes, the sides with C-scroll, cabochon and palmette clasps, on tapering legs and cabochon foliate sabots, one commode stamped 'J. GILLET' as a restorer or retailer, with label to reverse inscribed 'Mme. François Balsan, 145 rue Peronnet, Neuilly' and the underside bearing circular green wax seals 'HZA... FRANKFURT... A/MS', both inscribed in chalk '214078/6', the mounts of the Gillet commode re-gilt and its borders and apron mounts replaced
The Brèche d'Alep example: 33 ¾ in. (86 cm.) high; 50 ¾ in. (129 cm.) wide; 25 in. (63.5 cm.) deep
The Rouge de Maine example: 33 ¼ in. (84.5 cm.) high; 50 ¼ in. (127.5 cm.) wide; 25 ¼ in. (64 cm.) deep
Provenance
Eugène Kraemer, Paris; sold Galerie Georges Petit, Paris, 28-29 April 1913, lot 154.
Mme. François Balsan, Neuilly (according to a label on one) niece-in-law of Colonel & Mrs Jacques Balsan (Consuelo Vanderbilt).
Anonymous sale; Me Delorme et Fraysse, Paris, 14 December 1994, lot 69.
With Segoura, Paris, 1996, from whom purchased by the owner of the Pavilion Chougny.
Anonymous private collection, 'Le Pavilion Chougny'; sold Christie's, London, 10 December 2004, lot 377.
Literature
Comte de Salverte, Les Ebénistes du XVIIIe Siècle, Paris-Brussels, 1923, p. 145 (in discussion of the commode stamped Gillet, though both commodes are mentioned along with a 'meuble à hauteur d'appui' with similar decoration sold from the Kraemer collection).
P. Kjellberg, Le Mobilier Français du XVIIIe Siècle, Paris, 1998, p. 360 (the commode stamped Gillet).
P. Kjellberg, Le Mobilier Français du XVIIIe Siècle, Paris, 2002, p. 405, fig. b (the commode stamped Gillet).
A. Pradère, Charles Cressent, Dijon, 2003, pp. 165 and 283-4, cat. no. 136-7.
Exhibited
Paris, Grands Ebénistes et Menuisiers Parisiens du XVIIIe Siècle, 1955-56, Musée des Arts Décoratifs, cat. 120 and p. 2, property of Mme. Balsan (the commode stamped Gillet discussed but illustrated with the Rouge de Maine top).

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Lot Essay

Charles Cressent, 1685-1768, marchand-ébéniste and sculpteur.
Jean Gillet, maître in 1737.

CHARLES CRESSENT
Charles Cressent is indisputably the most representative craftsman of the Régence period, when fashion started to turn to furniture finished with relatively simple wood veneers, but fitted with ormolu mounts of increasingly sculptural quality and splendour. In this arena Cressent stood alone, his early training as a sculptor being more than evident in the originality and quality of the mounts which he produced. He became master sculptor in 1719 and a member of the Academy of Saint-Luc. He is recorded as both sculpteur and ébéniste to the duc d'Orléans, and he was constantly in difficulties with the guild of fondeurs and doreurs because, in contravention of the guild rules, he chased and gilded bronzes in his own workshop. In many instances he had even supplied models which he had created himself to the casters of his bronzes. His defence against this was that it enabled him to supervise the quality of the work and to prevent unauthorized copies being made; it has to be said that his defiance of the guild regulations has left a legacy of ormolu mounts of unparalleled distinction. This may also explain why most of the mounts of both these commodes appear to be contemporary after-casts of a third set of mounts - and were almost certainly produced in Cressent's atelier.

COMMODES A DOUBLES CROSSES EN S ET CHUTES DE FLEURS
Cressent designed a number of very distinctive commodes which have now been been identified in the catalogue raisonné compiled by Alexandre Pradère. This places the present pair in a group of only ten examples classified as 'Les commodes à doubles crosses en S et chutes de fleurs', including one supplied to Jean-Baptiste de Machault d'Arnouville (1701-1794; A. Pradère, loc. cit., pp. 283-5). Of this group, Pradère concludes that the earliest model is those with a chute mosaique, as feature on this pair, and can be dated to circa 1740. Of this small group, the present pair have the richest mounts to the apron.

Pradère has suggested that the presence of Jean Gillet's stamp on one of these commodes could imply a collaboration between Gillet and Cressent. Indeed, a pair of encoignures with Brèche d'Alep tops, the same parquetry and related mounts, which he attributes to Cressent, are also stamped by Gillet (sold Christie's, London, 29 July 1954, lot 87; and most recently at Palais Galliera, Paris, 11 March 1975, lot 159; ibid; Kjellberg, loc. cit., 1998, ill.).

Pradère has also suggested the possibility that the Frankfurt-Am-Main wax seal to the reverse of these commodes could imply a Goldschmidt-Rothschild provenance for this pair. Certainly the Rothschild's predilection for bringing together almost identical pairs is borne out both by the De Loose commodes from Marly (sold Christie's, New York, 26 October 2001, lot 280), as well as by the matched pair of commodes by Cressent, one being a faithful copy of the other with mounts transposed, in the James A. de Rothschild Collection at Waddesdon Manor (G. de Bellaigue, The James A. de Rothschild Collection at Waddesdon Manor, London, 1974, pp. 207-217). A commode of this model, though with slightly larger chutes and lion's paw sabots, was previously in the collection of Rudolph von Goldschmidt-Rothschild in Königstein, and it is not inconceivable that he may have had a second similar Cressent commode (A. Feulner, 'Französische Möbel in Deutschland', Pantheon, September 1929, p. 52).



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