JEAN JOSEPH PIERRE AUGUSTIN LAPEYRIÈRE (1779-1831)
This secretaire was identified for the first time as having belonged to Lapeyrière by Gillian Wilson and Adrian Sassoon in Decorative Arts, A Handbook of the Collections of the J. Paul Getty Museum, Malibu, 1986, p. 24, no. 51.
This secretaire first appears in the sale de tableaux précieux et autres objets de curiosité formant le cabinet de M.L., Receveur-Général des Contributions du département de la Seine which took place in Paris on April 19, 1825. Lot 97 was described as follows:
Lapeyrière was born in Cahors on August 28, 1779. His father was Receveur Général des Contributions de la Seine from 1804 until 1810, a post to which the son succeeded in 1810. From an early age he collected paintings by the Dutch masters. By the time of his marriage in 1813, his collection was estimated at 105,360 francs and his furniture at 70,000 francs. His total assets amounted to the considerable sum of 443,218 francs.
In 1822, grave financial problems forced him to give up his collection, the luxury furniture going to his creditors and the jewelry pawned. The subsequent sale on April 19, 1825 was one of the most important of the first half of the 19th century. One hundred and ninety-one paintings were sold as well as sculptures, numerous marble vases and Sévres porcelain. Included among the furniture was the commode by Dubois now in the Wallace Collection (F.J.B. Watson, The Wallace Collection Catalogues: Furniture, London, 1956, F. 245) and a pietra dura-inlaid commode by Carlin in the collection of Her Majesty the Queen of England.
Lots 97 to 101 in the catalogue form a homogeneous group of seven pieces of porcelain-mounted furniture apparently straight out of the Maëlrondt and Bellangé workshops. Only the two secretaires, including the Getty one, were completely finished, the other five pieces incomplete with bronzes awaiting gilding and porcelain plaques still unpainted. It is likely that Lapeyrière had ordered these pieces in 1822 before his financial difficulties caused work to be stopped in February 1823 and the pieces to be handed over in an unfinished state to his creditors.
This secretaire may be attributed to either Louis François Bellangé (1759-1827) or to his son Alexandre Louis (1799-1863). The father signed BELLANGE 41 RUE SAINT-MARTIN as on a similar pair of secretaires at Windsor Castle illustrated in the exhibition catalogue Un age d'or des arts décoratifs 1814-1848, p. 150. fig. 55a. A secretaire by the son, stamped BELLANGE NO 33 rue des Marais-Saint-Martin à Paris, was sold at Christie's London on 31 March 1977, lot 44 and is also illustrated in the same exhibition catalogue p. 151, fig. 55b. It is highly likely that father and son worked together for a number of years.
Furniture of this type was already being attributed to Alexandre Bellangé from 1824. The catalogue for sale dated November 15 1824 following the death of the dealer Philippe Claude Maëlrondt states that quelques uns des meubles précieux ont été etablis avec autant de soins que d'habilité par M. Alexandre Belanger, d'après les idées de M. Maelrondt. Lot 326 was described as Une très beau meuble secrétaire à deux parties, fait par M. BELANGER, la partie inférieure composée de six colonnes et de quatre pilastres à cannelures en cuivre doré, garnie de deux glaces, la partie supérieure ouvrant à un abattant, garnie de deux galces, la partie inférieure ouvrant à un abattant garnie de douze tiroirs; cette partie est enrichie de quatre plaques en porcelaine moderne, représentant des paysages et différents sujets et de deux autres plaques en ancien Sèvres à guirlandes de fleurs; elle est aussi garnie de deux cariatides et autres ornements en bronze doré.
The inscription for the design of this secretaire no doubt came from the marchand de curiosite, Maëlrondt, who continued in the 18th century tradition of marchand-mercier, with close links to the Bellangé and a diverse clientele notably outside France, styling himself as commissionaire pour l'étranger.
A small number of similar secretaires which may be attributed to the Bellangé include a second pair at Windsor Castle probably purchased from the Watson-Taylor sale, Christie's London, May 28 1825, lots 45 and 46, one of which is illustrated D. Ledoux-Lebard, Le Mobilier Français du XIX.ème Siècle, Paris, 1989, p. 60. Another was sold from the collection of the duchesse de Berry in Paris on May 17 1886, lot 445. One of a pair in the Musée des Arts décoratifs, Lyon was exhibited in Un age d'or des arts décoratifs 1814-1848. The pair to the Getty secretaire, also sold from the Lapeyrière collection in Paris April 19, 1825, lot 98, was sold from the Larcade collection in Paris May 25 1951, lot 24.