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An important pair of massive Louis XV style ormolu-mounted kingwood, mahogany and end-cut marquetry commodes
An important pair of massive Louis XV style ormolu-mounted kingwood, mahogany and end-cut marquetry commodes


An important pair of massive Louis XV style ormolu-mounted kingwood, mahogany and end-cut marquetry commodes
The cabinetwork by Alphonse Lambert, The mounts by Adolphe-Armand Truffier, Supplied by Boudet, Paris, Dated 1896
Each of serpentine bombé form, the thick brèche violette marble top above a ribbon-tied laurel-festooned front centred by an oval wreath enclosing a vine pendant and inlaid sans traverse to each side with floral sprays issuing from a pair of cornucopiae to the centre of the palm frond apron below, one with a pair of drawers, the other à vantaux with a pair of doors opening to an interior fitted with two sets of six drawers, with similarly-inlaid laurel-festooned sides, the angles draped with Herculean lion-pelts, above tapering legs applied with reeded chutes, terminating in scrolled acanthus-cast feet; the back left lion-pelt mounts of each commode signed ApheTruffier/Sculpr1896, the top edges of the left door and top drawer inscribed BOUDET 43 BD DES CAPUCINES PARIS and with stamped inventory numbers 18267 and 18268 respectively, the carcasses stamped to the rear N/1814/S.M. and N/1815/S.M. respectively, the back edges of the marble tops with similar painted inventory numbers, the interior carcass of the commode with drawers stencilled A. LAMBERT/EBENISTE/88 BD RICHARD-LENOIR/PARIS, the lock-plate of the commode à vantaux engraved Boudet 43 Bd des Capucines Paris
45½ in. (115.5 cm.) high; 99 in. (251.4 cm.) wide; 31½ in. (80 cm.) deep (2)
By repute, supplied in 1896 for Umberto I, King of Italy, 1878-1900.
Probably by descent to Victor-Emmanuel III, King of Italy, 1900-1946. With Galleria Navarra, Naples.
Acquired in 1948 by the aunt and uncle of the present owner.

Lot Essay

Although it has not yet been possible to identify their stamped inventory numbers, according to documentation relating to their purchase in 1948, these sumptuous commodes and the following pair of matching pedestal cabinets (see lot 426) were reputedly supplied for King Umberto I of Italy, probably for the Palazzo Reale in Turin, circa 1896. After Umberto's assasination at Monza in 1900, it seems likely the suite remained in the royal collection until 1946, when Victor-Emmanuel III was forced to abdicate. At that time it was probably acquired by the firm of Galleria Navarra in Naples, before being purchased shortly afterwards by relatives of the current owners.

Laurel-festooned in celebration of 'abundance through labour', hung with lion-pelts recalling Hercules' labours, and inlaid with flowers issuing from Ceres' 'horns of abundance', the inspiration for the commodes is the celebrated bureau commissioned by Louis XV from Jean-François Oeben (maître 1759) in 1760, completed by Jean-Henri Riesener (maître 1768) in 1769, with mounts designed by Jean-Claude Duplessis (d. 1774). In the later 19th century, after the bureau du Roi had been moved from the Palais de Saint-Cloud, copies were manufactured by leading Parisian ébénistes, such as Alfred Beurdeley, Henry Dasson and François Linke. The latter also adapted the model for a commode and pedestal (both smaller than the present examples), a large bibliothèque, a bergère, and two pianos.

Operating from large premises at 43, boulevard des Capucines from 1886, and on the place Vendôme after 1908, the firm of Boudet was one of the most important Parisian retailers of haut luxe furniture, bronzes, objets d'art, silver and even jewellery. Furniture makers and sculptors who supplied them with merchandise, which was then stamped with the Boudet name, included among others Zwiener, Linke, Millet and Bonheur. In this instance, the maker is the relatively obscure, but evidently highly competent firm of Alphonse Lambert, whom despite the difference in address, is most probably the same individual recorded by Ledoux-Lebard as operating from premises at 75-79, rue du Commerce from 1875 (see D. Ledoux-Lebard, Le Mobilier français du XIXe Siècle, Paris, 1984, p. 401). The more important cachet of Boudet is illustrated here by their name engraved on the lock-plate, compared with the virtually concealed stencil of Lambert. Although difficult to decipher, the signature to the mounts is almost certainly that of Adolphe-Armand Truffier, a sculptor of gilt-bronze and silver tablewares, decorative objects and lighting fixtures, modelled in the prevailing Art Nouveau style and frequently exhibited at the Société des Artistes Français at the turn of the century (for examples of Truffier's work, see A. Duncan, The Paris Salons, 1895-1914, vol. V, pp. 521-5).

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