François Linke (d. 1946) was one of the most celebrated ébénistes of his time. Born in Pankraz, Bohemia, Linke moved to Paris in 1875 and six years later established independent ateliers at 170, rue de Faubourg St. Antoine. As was the practice among contemporaries and noteworthy predecessors, such as Alfred Beurdeley and Henry Dasson, Linke initially produced furniture derived from styles popular during the 18th century ancien régime. By 1900, his worldwide reputation as an individualistic master of high quality furniture was already established. However, with a huge display, placing his extravagant pieces in room settings and winning the Médaille d'Or for his Grand Bureau, Linke's participation in the Paris 1900 exhibition was to be the pinnacle of his career, and prompted critics, such as Charles Dambreuse, to comment: L'Exposition de la maison Linke est le gros événement de l'histoire du meuble d'art en l'an de grâce 1900 (see C. Dambreuse, L'Art Industriel à l'Exposition de Meuble de Style - M. F. Linke, in Revue Artistique & Industrielle, Paris, July-August, 1900). Linke's international acclaim following the 1900 exhibition afforded him a high degree of financial stability, not only allowing him to establish a large showroom on the fashionable place Vendôme, but also to pursue new and further distant markets by exhibiting at other international shows. These included the St. Louis World's Fair in 1904, where he was again awarded a gold medal, Liège in 1905 and the Franco-British exhibition in London in 1908.
First exhibited at the 1900 Exposition universelle and listed by Linke as 'Vitrine Louis XV bronze sur glace, this model display-cabinet, index number 905, is a larger and more elaborate version of an earlier vitrine, index number 487, first produced in 1897. Payne records five other examples of the model being made, as well as variants, one of them a taller version made for Prince Gagarine featuring, as here, the Messagé-designed seaweed-draped mermaid mask to the centre of the cornice. An example of the current version was also supplied to Elias Meyer in 1909 for his 16 Grosvenor Square mansion and may be seen in a contemporary photograph of the latter's main drawing room.
An example of index number 487, the smaller, simplified earlier version of the present model, was sold Christie's New York, 26 October 2004, lot 321 ($237,100).