A PRESTIGIOUS PROVENANCE
The Espirito Santo family has been synonymous with banking in Portugal since José Maria Espirito Santo Silva founded a financial establishment and the family bank bearing his name in 1884. Succeeded by his two brothers, Ricardo and Manuel, the Espirito Santo empire grew to be prominent in both banking and insurance, as well as plantations, carrying important coffee, sugar and palm-oil interests in the Portuguese colonies. Celebrated for their hospitality in Lisbon, Cascaìs or at their hunting lodge in the Alentejo, the Espirito Santo family counted the likes of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, as well as the Spanish, Italian and French Royal families amongst their friends.
A CELEBRATED éBéNISTE
René Dubois (1737-1799, maître in 1755) was the son of Jacques Dubois (1693-1763, maître in 1742), arguably one of the most accomplished ébénistes of the Louis XV era. Following his father's death in 1763, René took charge of the atelier under the direction of his mother and continued to use his father's stamp. In 1772, René's mother granted him full direction of the workshop, selling the stock to him for 25,002 livres, such a significant sum indicating the continued importance of the workshop. René is recorded in the 1779 Almanach général des marchands as the ébébniste de la Reine, also counting the Prince de Soubise amongst his most important patrons.
With their pronounced architectural lines, distinctive floret-inset trellis parquetry and angles à pans coupés, these encoignures are characteristic of the oeuvre of the ébéniste. A related secrétaire by René Dubois, formerly in the Collection Cassel, is illustrated in P. Kjellberg, Le Mobilier Français du XVIIIè Siècle, Paris, 1998, p. 278. Also highly reminiscent of Dubois's illusionistic and quatrefoil flower-inset trellis parquetry, are pieces by François Gaspard Teuné and Pierre-Harry Mewesen (both maîtres in 1766) as well as Jacques van Oostenrik, dit Dautriche (maître in 1765). Among the related examples sold at auction, a pair of encoignures by Dautriche was sold at Christie's, Paris, 24 June 2003, lot 417, while another, also by the ébéniste was sold Ader-Palais Galliera, Paris, 2 December 1968, lot 82. An armoire and a meuble d'appui both executed by Teuné, featuring a virtually identical floret-inset lozenge parquetry, were sold anonymously at Christie's, London, 5 July 2007, lot 85 (from the property of Henri Thiebaud-Frey Stiftung) and 24 April 2008, lot 165, respectively.