This impressive bureau plat – based on a model by the celebrated 18th century cabinetmaker, Charles Cressent, with espangolette busts on the angles – perfectly illustrates the successful collaboration between François Linke, the most celebrated ébéniste of the belle époque, and famed sculptor Léon Messagé, whose Art Nouveau and rococo-influenced mounts adorn the present desk. The glass photographic cliché for this model, possibly showing this same bureau, is preserved in the Linke Archives and reproduced above.
Reminiscent of the paintings of François Boucher, the female busts designed by Léon Messagé and incorporated on this bureau plat were referred to by Linke as Coquetterie et Modestie. This is because they are based on fuller figures used as corner mounts, or chutes, by Linke which more overtly reflect these titles - Coquetterie with breasts exposed, and Modestie lightly covering her breasts with flowing material. They feature in their fullest length on a large and sumptuous grand piano made for Madame d'Astoreca, Madrid, in 1910 (lot 66).
The busts are signature Linke mounts. Linke was obliged to purchase their design at a tremendous cost from Messagé, though once acquired, the first castings began in 1897 and they proved fruitful for Linke, becoming a favourite of the celebrated cabinetmaker. However, whilst at first glance being a retrospective work, the full force of Linke's collaboration with his gifted sculptor Léon Messagé can be seen in the flowing asymmetry, which has been cleverly modernised to reflect the surge of popularity of the Art Nouveau. The more restrained chutes to the present bureau plat are of a design more in keeping with the early Louis XV period and feature to a number of important pieces of Linke’s furniture such as his celebrated 'Commode coquille: Coquetterie et Modestie', index number 559 bis sold Christie’s, London, 25 February 2005, lot 200 (£220,800), a centre table (index number 930) sold Christie's, New York, 24 April 2002, lot 375 ($191,000) and an art case piano sold Christie’s, London, 18 September 2014, lot 150.