MADAME DE CHABOT, DAUGHTER OF THE DUCHESSE D’ENVILLE
These two elegant writing-cabinets, offered en suite as lots 617 and 618, were commissioned by Louise-Elisabeth de La Rochefoucauld, duchesse d’Enville circa 1768-70 for her daughter Elisabeth Louise de la Rochefoucauld (1740-1786). An inscription to the reverse of one of the cabinets indeed reads ‘Mde de Chabot’ [Madame de Chabot], which name Elisabeth Louise took upon her marriage in 1757 to Louis-Antoine de Rohan-Chabot, duc de Chabot (1733-1807). Tantalizingly, it is not possible to ascertain whether the following two lots commissioned for Madame de Chabot were meant for her appartement in Paris or in the château de La Roche-Guyon, in the Val d’Oise.
L'HOTEL DE LA ROCHEFOUCAULD
Until the revolution, the couple resided with the duchesse d’Enville in the grand hôtel de la Rochefoucauld on the rue de Seine, in Paris. Whilst the duc de Chabot occupied an appartement on the ground floor, Madame de Chabot lived on the same floor as her mother, on the first floor. Alas, no inventory was ever drawn up of the appartement of Mme de Chabot herself, the majority of the furnishings belonging to her mother. Interestingly, the inventory of the duc de Chabot’s appartement drawn up after Madame de Chabot’s death in 1786, and the Guide issued the same year by Luc-Vincent Thiéry, shed some light on the furnishings and ameublement of the appartement of the duc and on the superb collection of Dutch pictures he had gathered (L- V. Thiéry’s, Guide des Amateurs et des Etrangers Voyageurs à Paris, Paris, Hardouin & Gattey, 1786, p. 490). This important collection of the duc de Chabot would be dispersed in 1787.
THE CHATEAU DE LA ROCHE-GUYON
It is equally possible that lots 617 and 618 here offered were commissioned as part of the new furnishings for the château de La Roche-Guyon, Val d’Oise, for which the refurbishment was carried out between 1764 and 1769. The focal point of this modernisation was the Grand Salon, which was fitted with classical pilasters, a monumental granite chimneypiece brought back from Rome and a set of four Gobelins tapestries depicting the History of Esther. This splendid new decor was filled with various masterpieces including a suite of Gobelins tapestry seat-furniture by Nicolas Heurtaut now in the Louvre (B. Pallot, Furniture Collections in the Louvre, Dijon, 1993, no. 36), a pair of giltwood side tables by Jumel, but also sumptuous and bold garlanded bronzes d'ameublement, including a pair of chenêts attributed to Dambière and a pair of wall-lights with ram's masks (Sotheby's house sale, Monaco, 6-7 December 1987, lots 97, 105 and 107).
FASHIONABLE MAHOGANY FURNITURE
The majority of the furniture and works of art purchased in these years was in the latest Paris fashion and it is not surprising that the duchesse d'Enville chose the present mahogany cabinets as part of her 'modern' decor. They are closely related to the commodes à la Grecque in mahogany or bois satiné executed by Jean-François and Simon Oeben (maître in 1764) circa 1760-65, which were much favoured by Madame de Pompadour and the duc de Choiseul (R. Stratmann-Döhler, Jean-François Oeben, Paris, 2002, cat. 43, p. 36 and A. Pradère, French Furniture Makers, Paris, 1989, pp. 265-267). The mahogany furniture at La Roche-Guyon also included a pair of commodes of this model; however, these were executed Nicholas Grevenich, who only became a master in 1768, when the first purchases were probably made. They differ from the examples by the Oeben brothers, particularly in the outline and arrangement of the drawers. which has resulted in a heavier and more tentative appearance. The present cabinets, by contrast, demonstrate both in design and detail the hand of a more accomplished master and it is possible that Simon Oeben was responsible for their manufacture.