Adam Weisweiler, maître in 1778.
Embellished with costly 17th century Japanese lacquer, this superb commode is a beautiful and elegant example of the work of Adam Weisweiler at the height of his powers, when this ébéniste delivered a number of masterpieces to the Royal family, all commissioned through the famous marchand-mercier Dominique Daguerre (d. 1796). This includes the monumental secretaire supplied in January 1784 to Louis XVI's cabinet Interieur at Versailles, which is one of his earliest and most richly-mounted pieces of lacquer furniture (O. Impey and J. Whitehead, 'From Japanese box to French Royal furniture', Apollo, September 1990, p. 163).
Daguerre commissioned various related pieces from Weisweiler, varying both the basic format, the materials and gilt-bronze mounts. With their arrangement of tall doors, these cabinets or 'meubles à hauteur d'appui' were particularly appropriate for the display of exotic Oriental lacquer and 17th Century pietra dura panels as well as porcelain plaques. The present example is mounted with rare Japanese lacquer panels of circa 1660-1690 which are decorated with fan-shaped cartouches. These were most probably originally incorporated in a cabinet or a chest, which was cut up and put to new and fashionable use. The panels are framed by aventurine nashiji lacquer borders which balance the central scenes. Similar striking borders appear on a commode formerly with Frank Partridge, sold from the Keck Collection, La Lanterne, Bel Air, Sotheby's, New York, 5-6 December 1991, lot 276. The frieze is fitted with a delicate pierced mount with arrows and sunflowers, which was almost exclusively employed by Weisweiler and is based on an anonymous preparatory drawing of a cabinet in the Cooper-Hewitt Museum (P. Lemonnier, Weisweiler, Paris, 1983, p. 97). This frieze appears on a pair of related cabinets from the Grog-Carven collection and now in the Louvre (illustrated D. Alcouffe, Furniture Collections in the Louvre, Dijon, 1993, vol. I, no. 99, pp. 294-295). In addition, it features on a console désserte at the Musée Nissim de Camondo, Paris (N. Gasc and G. Mabille, Musée Nissim de Camondo, Paris, 1991, p. 41) and a virtually identical example, formerly in the collection of Marquesses of Hertford, which was sold, Christie's, New York, 18 October 2002, lot 1175.
Daguerre's Louis XVI 'antique' or Pompeiian manner was particularly favoured by his elegant English clientèle, and visitors to his atelier 'a la Couronne d'Or' in 1785 included Henry Holland (d. 1806), architect to George, Prince of Wales, and his patron George John, 2nd Earl Spencer (d. 1836). A pair of secretaires or 'desks', both stamped by Weisweiler, formed part of the Earl's furniture 'en laque', which he commissioned for his new French appartment at Spencer House (P. Thornton and J. Hardy, 'The Spencer Furniture at Althorp', Apollo, October 1968, fig. 15, pl. XVII). His purchase of lacquer furniture also included various closely related pieces by Charles-Claude Saunier (maître in 1752), whom besides Weisweiler was one of Daguerre's favoured ébénistes.
It is interesting to note that Daguerre's stock sale at Christie's London on 25-26 March 1791 included two commodes possibly of the present model although the descriptions do not allow certain identification with any of the well-known examples: lot 60 of the first day 'an elegant commode, comprised of the very old raised Japan and veined marble top, rich mounted in or-moulu' and lot 71 of the second day 'A fine commode of the fine old Japan, with marble top and rich arabesque frieze in or-moulu'