THE CONNECTION TO LATZ
This spectacular bureau plat, though unstamped, can tentatively be attributed to Jean-Pierre Latz on the basis of its dynamically rich ormolu mounts.The pierced foliate rocaille chute mounts on the present bureau plat are found on other examples attributed by Henry Hawley to this esteemed ébéniste; however Hawley does make the distinction that the presence of these chute mounts alone is not sufficient in itself to justify a complete attribution to Latz (H. Hawley, "Jean-Pierre Latz, Cabinetmaker", The Bulletin of the Cleveland Museum of Art, September/October 1970, p. 241). Those pieces attributed by Hawley to Latz include a bureau plat formerly in the Dutasta Collection, Paris (illustrated here) which shares a close stylistic relationship with the present bureau plat, including the same model of angle mount. Additionally, these angle mounts are of the same design and model as on a further bureau plat in the Wallace Collection attributed to Latz (see P. Hughes, The Catalogue of Furniture in the Wallace Collection, London, 1996, pl. 207 [F112], pp. 1050-1054). These chutes are found again on the angles of a desk attributed by Hawley to Latz in the collection of the Duke of Bedford, Woburn Abbey (see Hawley, op. cit., p. 239, pl. 29). Other bureaux plats of similar form and with angle mounts of the same model but veneered in floral marquetry were sold anonymously at Sotheby Parke Bernet,Monaco, 24-25 June 1984, lot 3236, and at Sotheby's London, 24 November 1988, lot 14.
JEAN PIERRE LATZ (1691-1754)
The German-born Latz arrived in Paris in 1719 and occupied quarters on the the rue du Faubourg St. Antoine. Latz never received his maîtrise, but his appointment as ébéniste privilégié du Roi is recorded for the first time in 1741. H.H. Hawley, 'Jean-Pierre Latz, Cabinetmaker', Bulletin of the Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, September-October 1970, p.207, discusses Latz's style, and emphasizes the three-dimensional vitality of his furniture in combination with extremely realistic floral marquetry and inventively sculptural bronze mounts, most of which were made by Latz himself. In 18th Century France it was completely prohibited to exercise this double activity of bronzier and ébéniste ; the guilds were highly regulated and kept strict watch over their respective spheres.This practice of casting his own mounts, in direct contravention of guild laws, allowed him to perfect his unique models and adapt them to specific pieces of furniture and retain their exclusive use. A raid on his workshop in 1749 by the bronziers revealed the presence of 2,288 models of ormolu mounts. However, subsequent to this raid, Latz no longer had exclusive use of some of his moulds as the bronze casters' guild had seized them and the mounts cast from them, and sold them in accordance with guild regulations.
Latz's notable patrons included the sovereigns Frederick II, King of Prussia, and August III, King of Poland and Elector of Saxony, and the duc de Penthièvre. A number of pieces were also commissioned by Louise Elizabeth, Louis XV's eldest daughter, between 1748-1753. Madame Infante married the Duke of Parma, and while most of these pieces furnished the palaces of Colorno and Parma, many are now in the Palazzo Quirinale in Rome (see A. Pradère, French Furniture Makers, Malibu, 1989, pp. 153-162).
Yester House has been the seat of the Marquesses of Tweeddale since the 13th Century. Nearby Yester Castle was built by Hugo Gifford in the 13th Century, whose descendant John Hay of Yester, the 2nd Earl and 1st Marquess of Tweeddale built the first house on the present site in the late 17th Century. Yester was remodelled several times over the next 150 years, notably from 1697 when the 2nd Marquess employed James Smith and Alexander McGill to build the main block of the house.The subsequent alterations made to the house never lost the simple purity of Smith's original design.The major internal changes to the house were instigated by the 4th Marquess (d. 1762) who inherited in 1715. By 1729 the up-and-coming architect William Adam had drawn up proposals for alterations to Yester costing 1,100.These were completed by 1748. His plans for Yester were later included in his publication Vitruvius Scoticus, plates 28 & 29. At the end of the century, William Adam's son Robert worked at Yester, rebuilding the staircase and remodelling the saloon. After 1830, the architect Robert Brown of Edinburgh was involved in further alterations.