Mathieu Criaerd, maître in 1738 or Antoine Mathieu Criard, maître in 1747.
These encoignures, with their sophisticated incorporation of Chinese coromandel lacquer, exemplify the early fashion for lacquer-mounted furniture promoted by marchands-merciers during the 18th century. However, French furniture incorporating Chinese coromandel lacquer is quite rare, due in large part to its inherent fragility which makes it incredibly hard to manipulate. Though coromandel lacquer is recorded in the stocks of the Parisian marchands-merciers, it is often linked with the mention that it is damaged. In 1755, the marchand Simon de la Hoguette records forty pieces of coromandel lacquer as endommagées and Duveaux, the marchand who frequently worked with Bernard II van Risenburgh (BVRB) mentions four such panels in 1758 (T. Wolvesperges, Le Meuble Français en Laque au XVIIIe Siècle, Paris, 2000, p.55).
One of the earliest examples with coromandel lacquer is a commode circa 1730 attributed to BVRB and supplied to the duc and duchesse du Maine for the château de Sceaux (2005.14.1) and sold from the collection of Jean Rossingnol; Art Curial, Paris, 13 December 2005, lot 119 (€1,272,327). As with many of their aristocratic contemporaries, the duc and duchesse de Maine had clearly embraced the hugely fashionable taste for the Orient which was a result of the vast array of luxurious objects created by the marchands-merciers. The furniture at this time would include Japanese or Chinese lacquer or the French equivalent, known as vernis martin, with only a scant few known to incorporate coromandel lacquer. A related pair of encoignures incorporating Chinese coromandel lacquer by BVRB are in in the Wrightsman Collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (1983.185.2).
Although the stamp on the present lot lacks an 'E', they appear to be by Mathieu Criaerd, who specialized in lacquer commodes early in his career and made furniture for the celebrated marchand-mercier Thomas Joachim Hébert, who was one of the main suppliers of costly lacquer furniture to the Garde-Meuble Royal in the 1740s. Antoine Mathieu Criard (1724-1787) was the eldest son of Mathieu Criaerd (1689-1776). He usually stamped his pieces 'CRIARD', with or without his initials, to differentiate his work from that of his father.