Browse Lots

Global notice COVID-19 Important notice
A PAIR OF CONSULAT ORMOLU-MOUNTED AND BRASS-INLAID EBONY MEUBLES D'APPUI
A PAIR OF CONSULAT ORMOLU-MOUNTED AND BRASS-INLAID EBONY MEUBLES D'APPUI
A PAIR OF CONSULAT ORMOLU-MOUNTED AND BRASS-INLAID EBONY MEUBLES D'APPUI
3 More
A PAIR OF CONSULAT ORMOLU-MOUNTED AND BRASS-INLAID EBONY MEUBLES D'APPUI
6 More
Please note this lot will be moved to Christie’s F… Read more
A PAIR OF CONSULAT ORMOLU-MOUNTED AND BRASS-INLAID EBONY MEUBLES D'APPUI

BY ETIENNE LEVASSEUR, CIRCA 1800

Details
A PAIR OF CONSULAT ORMOLU-MOUNTED AND BRASS-INLAID EBONY MEUBLES D'APPUI
BY ETIENNE LEVASSEUR, CIRCA 1800
Each with later white-veined marble top above a door with oval laurel wreath and patera medallion, enclosing four drawers flanked by uprights with Bacchic masks, the sides with rosettes on leaf-cast feet, the back of each with the oval printed paper label of the Rijksmuseum, Amstedam, the top of each with paper shipping labels POTTIER EMBALLEUR / 45 Rue Kléber - St.-Ouen (Seine) with handwritten ink inscription Exposition d'Amsterdam and with printed numbers 102 and 103, one with inscription Coln Long Drawing Room
38 ¼ in. (97.5 cm.) high, 30 ¼ in. (77 cm.) wide, 18 ½ in. (47 cm.) deep (each)
Provenance
With Fabre, Paris, circa 1936.
Charles de Bestegui, Château de Groussay; Sotheby's/Poulain de Fur, 2 June 1999, lot 383.
Acquired from Segoura, Paris.
Literature
Catalogus van de Tentoonstelling van Oude Kunst uit het Bezit van den Internationalen Handel, exh. cat., Amsterdam, 1936, p. 73, no. 323.
Exhibited
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, 1936
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, European Furniture

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

Condition report

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

Sign in
View condition report

Lot Essay

Etienne Levasseur, maître in 1767.
THE ATTRIBUTION
This strikingly elegant pair of meubles d'appui relates to a number of cabinets stamped by Levasseur. The form itself, fitted with either drawers or a door, is found in Levasseur’s oeuvre most often inlaid with Boulle type marquetry. More subtly decorated versions, such as the present lot, are rather rare. Being trained by members of the Boulle dynasty, Levasseur was a master of Boulle marquetry, a skill that was highly sought after by collectors of the 1770s and 80s, when the field of decorative arts in France was characterized by a revived interest in the Louis XIV style. An example of such piece by Levasseur from the Champalimaud Collection was sold Christie’s, London, 6-7 July 2005, lot 125 (£859,200). The Champalimaud meubles dappui share the same rosettes above the legs, and similar base and frame mounts to the central door. Another pair of similar cabinets by Levasseur and formerly in the collection of Boni de Castellane and Anna Gould, was sold Christie’s, Paris, 7 March 2017, lot 132 (€818,500) is even more closely related to the present lot as it is fitted, in addition to the rosettes above the feet, with a central oval ormolu mount, rosettes to the sides and its front pilasters are centered by ormolu devices similarly to the this pair. A pair decorated in Japanese lacquer and fitted with the same base mount and pilasters in the Jaime Ortiz-Patiño Collection sold Sotheby’s, New York, 20 May 1992, lot 85 ($1,705,000). Other related works by Levasseur are a pair of cabinets from the Grog Bequest to the Musée du Louvre (OA 10473 & 10474), and a commode supplied to the Comte d’Artois at the Temple, now at Versailles (VMB 14367). The pair of cabinets that shares the most similarities with the present pair is that in the collection of the Duke of Wellington at Stratfield Saye, Berkshire, see F.J.B. Watson, 'The Great Duke's Taste For French Furniture', Apollo, vol CII, July 1975, p.47, fig. 8. Both pairs feature a central ormolu-framed reserve, side rosettes, comparable base mounts, rosettes above the feet, ormolu mount-centered and brass-inlaid pilasters, basically identical acanthus-cast ormolu feet, and very similar pilaster capitals, which help us date the present pair. The style in which these capitals were conceived is distinctly post-Revolution and it foreshadows the Empire taste that aimed to faithfully recreate ancient forms and patterns with a sense of monumentality and grandeur. The presence of these proto-Empire mounts helps us date these cabinets to circa 1800. The date could also explain the lack of Boulle marquetry, which makes this lot rare in Levasseur’s pre-Restauration oeuvre. With the Revolution re-drawing the political landscape of France, and later the entirety of Europe, artists and craftsmen were to abandon references to the Sun King and the ancien régime. Furthermore, the supply of material, recycled or newly-sourced, needed to execute intricate Boulle marquetry must have been dwindling during the Revolutionary years. Levasseur was to re-invent well-established forms not only to overcome a restricted supply of certain materials but also to appeal to a new clientele with a new, revolutionized, aesthetic.
ETIENNE LEVASSEUR
Etienne Levasseur learned his craft with the sons of André-Charles Boulle, probably from A-C. Boulle the younger (1685-1745) or Charles-Joseph Boulle (d. 1754) and by 1765 was established as a privileged craftsman in the faubourg Saint-Antoine at a shop known as 'Au Cadran bleu.' Levasseur was received maître-ébéniste on 2 April 1767 and could count amongst his most important patrons the King's aunts, Mesdames Adélaïde and Victoire at Bellevue, as well as rich collectors, such as the fermier-général Mulot de Pressigny. Etienne Levasseur (re) does not appear to have continued working after the Revolution and died in 1798. Both his son and grandson however followed in his footsteps, perpetuating his specialization in Boulle marquetry furniture well into the 1820s and continuing to use his stamp. Pierre-Etienne married a daughter of Roger van der Cruse, dit Lacroix but was never received maître, most probably as a result of the Revolution. The latter, known as Levasseur the Younger, is recorded as having placed an advertisement in the Bazar Parisien in 1822 where he described himself as perhaps the only ébéniste making and repairing Boulle furniture in all of Paris.
CHARLES DE BEISTEGUI
Charles de Beistegui (d.1970), the legendary bon vivant, bought the 19th century château de Groussay in 1939. The heir to a Mexican silver fortune, Beistegui had a flair for the theatrical and in collaboration with the Cuban-born architect Emilio Terry (1890-1969), and his assistant Michel de Bros designed elaborately themed rooms and garden follies in grand neoclassical style.

More from La Rêverie: The Collection of Sydell Miller

View All
View All