This splendid commode, with its rich marquetry ornamentation of flower-filled vases, rinceaux scrolling foliage and bearded grotesques, displays the fashion in the Louis XIV period for "painting in wood" through marquetry.
The floral designs are clearly indebted to the work of painters such as Jean-Baptiste Monnnoyer- indeed André-Charles Boulle is known to have owned drawings and studies of birds and flowers by Pater fils and several flower paintings by Beaudesson. Inventories taken of Boulle's workshop in 1715 and 1720 reveal that he continued to supply pieces incorporating fruitwood marquetry right up to the end of his career. The distinctive bearded masks on this commode reappear elsewhere in Boulle's oeuvre, for instance on the celebrated center table owned by Blondel d'Azincourt in the 18th Century, subsequently at Wanstead and most recently sold from the Riahi Collection, Christie's, New York, 2 November 2000, lot 40, as well as on the pair of cabinet stands also from Wanstead, sold from Boulle to Jansen, Christie's London, 12 June 2003, lots 25-6.
Another possible cabinet-maker for this commode is Aubertin Gaudron, who in 1715 supplied a marquetry commmode to the château de Compiègne, with marquetry described as:
...de bois de plusieurs couleurs fond d'ebène ornée milieu d'un vase rempli de fleurs posé sur un bout de table et un masque grotesque au dessous le reste rempli de rinceaux fleurs oiseaux et papillons au naturel...
This describes many of the features on the marquetry top of the Phipps commode.
This commode formed part of the celebrated collection of Ogden Phipps (1908-2002) in his Old Westbury, Long Island home. His grandfather Henry Phipps was immensely wealthy, being the second largest shareholder in the Carnegie Steel Company, while on his mother's side both his grandfather Ogden Mills and his uncle Ogden Livingston Mills assembled extraordinary collections of French furniture, porcelain, tapestries and silver, much of which was sold in a legendary sale at Pake-Bernet Galleries, New York in 1938.