A TABLE A LA BOURGOGNE MADE FOR MADAME INFANTE, LOUIS XV’S DAUGHTER
This remarkable and intricate table à la bourgogne, with its intricate inlay on a yellow ground resembling a sumptuous textile and its delightful spring-loaded superstructure, is numbered ‘725P’ and can be identified in the 1811 Inventory of the ‘Palais Impériale de Parme’ in the ‘Chambre à coucher n.92’ , where it is described as:
‘Une petite table à écrire et à travailler de bois d’Inde avec des arabesques et deux tiroirs lateraux: elle est couverte en dedans de maroquin noir, et cinq tiroirs avec une petite cuillère d’argent.
Larg 50 Long 75’
(This inventory entry is reproduced González-Palacios op.cit., p. 340.)
It must therefore have been part of the celebrated furnishings ordered for the Ducal Palaces of Parma and Colorno by Madame Louise-Elisabeth (1727-1759), Madame Infante, eldest daughter of Louis XV who had married Infant Don Philippe of Spain in 1739 and became duchess of Parma in 1748. As a result of the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle in 1748, she and her husband became rulers of the Duchy of Parma and they established their court there in the most fashionable taste. Madame Infante made three visits to Paris- in 1749, from September 1752 until September 1753 and from September 1757 until her death there on 6 December 1759. On her return home from the first two visits she was accompanied by a staggering quantity of works of art, transported by thirty four and fourteen wagons respectively. An entry in d’Argenson’s Journal for 1753 notes: ‘une grande quantité de chariots chargés de toutes sortes de nippes que le Roi lui donné.’ The orders for furniture and clothes made by the ducal couple from the Paris dealers for 1752 alone amounted to 200,000 livres, including a large amount of purchases from the marchand-mercier Lazare Duvaux. After the unification of Italy, many of the Parisian treasures commissioned by Madame Infante were transferred to the Palazzo Quirinale in Rome, although others found their way onto the international market, such as the celebrated chandeliers by Jacques Caffieri in the Wallace Collection, purchased by Baron Davillier from ‘un fonctionnaire du palais royal de Parme’.
The table à la bourgogne's subsequent history is unknown until it appears in the records of the New York dealers, French and Company. They purchased it from 'Miss B Dinsha' in 1951 and note that it had been sold to Mr. Dinsha (also known as Dinshaw) in 1946. For a further note on the fascinating brother and sister collectors Edulji and Bachoo Dinshaw, please also see note to lot 269 in the sale. Beginning in 1955, the table à la bourgogne went to other various well-known collections. First with the decorator Syrie Maugham, it then goes out to the De Young Museum, San Francisco followed by the Strozzi Palace, then loaned to the Art Treasures Exhibit before going out to Ogden Phipps in 1967. It was sold on 2 August 1968 but the buyer is unrecorded.
AN ATTRIBUTION TO JEAN-PIERRE LATZ
Although unstamped, this superb and ingenious table can be attributed to the German-born cabinet-maker Jean-Pierre Latz, who supplied a number of important pieces to Madame Infante for Parma, including two commodes which rank among his masterpieces (see González-Palacios op.cit., pp.108-114). Intricate marquetry tables, often with hidden mechanisms, were a particular speciality of Latz, for instance another table à la bourgogne, inlaid with gardening implements and supplied to the duc de Penthièvre for the château de Sceaux, sold Christie’s, New York, 24 October 2012, lot 76 ($278,500, when acquired by Sceaux).
Born in Cologne in 1691, Latz moved to Paris in 1719 and in 1739 married Marie-Madeleine Seignet, daughter of a well-connected property developer. His business evidently prospered as by 1741 he was appointed ébèniste privilegié du roy, which enabled him to exercise his profession freely without entering the guild as a master. Like the renowned cabinet-maker Charles Cressent before him, Latz also contravened guild regulations by casting his own bronzes, which often enables unsigned pieces to be attributed to him on the basis of the bronzes. Latz's work is characterized by rich, naturalistic floral marquetry in dense clusters often punctuated by distinctive gourd-like seed pods and framed by distinctive cartouches, often related to the work of Jean-François Oeben, with whom he is known to have collaborated and with whom he shared an interest in using distinctive burr veneers, as on the outer border of this table.
Other than the duc de Penthièvre and Madame Infante, Latz’s most important commissions tended to be for foreign clients, and his German connections in particular secured a number of important commissions to the courts of Dresden and Berlin.
Other than the example made for Sceaux, only two other tables à la Bourgogne by Latz appear to be recorded: one, a less elaborate example in the James A. de Rothschild Collection at Waddesdon Manor, also stamped by Denis Genty (illustrated in G. de Bellaigue, Catalogue; Furniture and Gilt Bronzes, Fribourg, 1974, vol. 1, no. 82. 394 - 397), and another in a private English collection.