Among the work of Charles Honore Lannuier in New York, case furniture is extremely rare and only three commodes, or "French bureaus" are known, including this example. All three have mahogany pilasters with flat, gilt-brass capitals, fine imported French white marble tops, highly figured mahogany veneers, and, in this case, verte-antique animal-paw feet.
Probably crafted soon after Lannuier's arrival from France in 1803, this design is closely in keeping with French forms of the period, as in Pierre de la Mesangere's design for Commode Antique in plate 49 of his 1802 publication Collection de Meubles et Objets de Gout. Also in keeping with this plate, Lannuier made a French bureau with one drawer above two cabinet doors (see Kenny, Charles Honore Lannuier, Cabinetmaker from Paris [New York, 1998] cat. no. 46).
This manifestation of the French Empire style was a departure from the more familiar Anglo-inspired designs of Duncan Phyfe and Lannuier's other competitors in New York. In the text of the two labels affixed to this bureau, he advertised himself as a "Cabinetmaker from Paris". In these labels, as well as in the design of this bureau, Lannuier was clearly touting his familiarity with the new French classicism. The clean lines, broad passages of highly figured mahogany, and paw feet inspired directly from Roman precedents signaled the coming of major stylistic changes in the furniture trade in New York. Innovative for its time and rich in its materials and design, this sophisticated commode stands as one of Lannuier's great achievements after his arrival in New York City.