Jean-François Leleu, maître in 1764.
TABLES A LA BOURGOGNE
The name given to this type of table by Jean-François Oeben, according to D. Alcouffe et al., Furniture Collections in the Louvre, Dijon, 1993, p. 184-185, no. 56, renders homage to the young duc de Bourgogne, the eldest of Louis XV's grandsons (1751-1760). Oeben made an invalid's mechanical armchair for him in 1760 and in the inventory taken following Oeben's death, two further tables of this ingenious form are recorded.
THE OEBEN/LELEU CONNECTION
Although this table à la bourgogne is stamped by Leleu, stylistically both in its overall form, the pattern of the parquetry and even the bronzes dorés it clearly owes much to the oeuvre of Oeben - who specialised in mechanical furniture. A collaboration between these two ébénistes is certainly a strong possibility.
The cube parquetry is characteristic of Oeben, as can be seen for instance on the table à la transformation in the Wallace Collection, London (illustrated in Peter Hughes, The Wallace Collection, Catalogue of Furniture, Vol. II, London, 1996, p. 1064, no. 210. 1065). Hughes concludes that this is clearly the work of Oeben but may have been made by Leleu, as it is incised under the lower front drawer with his name. The Wallace table also shares the distinctive ram's head mounts to the angles; this model is mentioned several times in the probate inventory taken following Oeben's death in 1763 - and indeed this same model can be seen in the celebrated portrait of Madame de Pompadour by F.-H. Drouais of 1763-64. A further table à la Bourgogne in the Louvre displays identical marquetry to the sides, as on this example (inv. OA 10001; illustrated by Alcouffe, op. cit., p. 184, no. 56).
In Francis Watson's The Wallace Collection: Furniture, London, 1956, he argued that the incised signature of Leleu may be genuine and may signify that it was made by Leleu whilst he was still working in the workshop of Oeben. Watson also argued that that as a result of the tensions between Oeben and Riesener, after Oeben's death, Leleu might have been provoked to assert authorship.
The mounts on the Wallace table are clearly associated with Oeben's workshop, rather than with Leleu when fully independent, and could perhaps have been modelled by J.-C.-T. Duplessis fils (c. 1730-1783).
Further related tables by Oeben with identical or very similar parquetry are discussed in Rosemarie Stratmann-Dohler, Jean-François Oeben 1721 -1763, Paris, 2002, pp. 33, 66, 84, 98, 100. These include that in the Residenz Munich, cat. 115; a secrètaire with cube parquetry in the Musée du Louvre, Paris, cat. 59; and a table, p. 98, with identical chevron parquetry on the sides in The J. Paul Getty Museum, Malibu, cat. 135.
JEAN-FRANCOIS OEBEN (1721-1763)
Oeben was received maître in 1761 and was established in the rue de Faubourg Saint-Antoine. In 1754 he was given the title of ébéniste du roi and moved to the Gobelins. He was renowned for his mechanical furniture and in 1760 was granted the title of ébéniste mecanicien du roi. His illustrious clientele included the Garde-Meuble Royal, the duc D'Aumont, Madame de Pompadour and the Ministers Choiseul and D'Argenson.