With its curvaceous silhouette, rich veneers and finely chased mounts, this splendid bibliothèque is evocative of François Linke’s finest work. Christopher Payne has noted that the present lot is unique in Linke’s oeuvre and was commissioned for a M. Joseph Cordier. A preparatory watercolour, cliché and photograph of the cabinet remain, as do daybook records from Linke’s workshop indicating – in great detail – the process behind its creation. Payne notes that for the present bibliothèque, the glass panels were provided by Bellange and Lernon, the cabinetmaking was executed by Alfred Jenicek and the bronze fitting by Alfred Cruchy. According to Payne, the creation of the cabinet cost 4,292 francs and it was retailed for the enormous sum of 9,000 francs in about 1901.
Linke’s worked cross all realms of furniture making, but his grand cabinets, vitrines and bibliothèques were among his most important pieces. On his celebrated stand at the 1900 Exposition universelle in Paris, Linke showed a splendid Grande Bibliothèque with magnificent figural and foliate mounts which encapsulates the grandeur of the era and the capabilities of his remarkable workshop. The Grande Bibliothèque is illustrated C. Payne, François Linke, 1855-1946: The Belle Époque of French Furniture, Woodbridge, 2003 p. 120. The present cabinet could be considered a direct descendant of the Grande Bibliothèque, as it is of similar, but reduced, silhouette. With its impressive scale and fine finishing, it bespeaks the grand interiors Linke furnished and is a bona fide tour de force of belle époque cabinetry.