The 'C' Couronné poinçon was a tax mark employed on any alloy containing copper between March 1745 and February 1749.
Jean Desforges, maître before 1730.
Combining the costliest and most exotic materials this commode spectacularly displays mid-eighteenth-century ébénisterie and the ciseleur-doreur's art at its finest. While almost certainly conceived by a marchand-mercier, reflecting the desire for meubles de luxe in the full-blown Rococo style, this commode can be firmly attributed to the ébéniste Jean Desforges, who is celebrated specifically for his magnificent commodes veneered in rare Chinese and Japanese lacquer. Jean Desforges's furniture consisted virtually exclusively of two-drawer commodes decorated sans traverse with floral marquetry or oriental lacquer and he does not seem to have executed other furniture types. A direct contemporary of Bernard II van Risen Burgh (BVRB), Desforges's oeuvre displays many similarities with BVRB's most sophisticated pieces, and particularly with his pieces of lacquer furniture supplied to the Royal family in the mid-1740s. Both ébénistes collaborated closely with the marchand-merciers Hébert and Duvaux, who would supply the oriental lacquer and the sculptural mounts. The sumptuous lacquer panels on Deforges’ commodes were always framed by large and exceptional bronze mounts, beautifully chased and richly-gilded.
Son of the ébéniste Michel Desforges, Jean Desforges married the sister of the ébéniste Pottier. Appointed maître ébéniste before 1730, he worked in the rue du Faubourg Saint Antoine. The brother-in-law of Guillaume Martin, maître peintre and vernisseur du Roi, Desforges executed principally lacquer and japanned case-furniture, almost certainly commissioned by marchand-merciers. As Desforges was related by marriage to the Martin family of vernisseurs and uncle of the ciseleur Guillaume Desforges, who worked for Latz, it seems most likely that the Martin family were among the marchand-merciers for whom he worked, and that his nephew, Guillaume, provided the bronzes dorés, while Martin Frères who would have provided most of the vernis Martin panels used on his commode.
The construction of Desforges’ commodes is beautifully crafted and finished and the back boards were often paneled and chamfered, as on this example. Comparable lacquer commodes with similar paneling to the back by Desforges include an example from the collection of Barbara Piasecka Johnson, sold Christie’s London, 1 December 2005, lot 197 (£254,400), and another from the collection of the Marquess of Cholmondeley, Houghton Hall, Norfolk, sold Christie's London, 8 December 1994, lot 69. In addition to the hallmark paneled back, the ormolu mounts on this commode share many similarities with other commodes confirmed to be by Desforges. The mounts on the present commode are very closely related to those found on the Piasecka Johnson piece and another sold Sotheby’s New York, 13-15 October 1983, lot 472. These include the closely-related cartouche-escutcheon, the chutes and sections of the gilt bronze outlines to the drawers. The black lacquer commode by Desforges from the Widener collection at the National Gallery of Art, Washington (Inv. No. c.261, see H. Huth, Lacquer of the West, London, 1971, pl. 237) and the abovementioned Cholmondeley commode both share a basically identical escutcheon and has a closely related frame. Finally, with their large-scale birds and rockwork, the lacquer panels used in the construction of the present commode are also very similar to those on the Piasecka Johnson and the Cholmondeley pieces.