Jules Allard took over the running of the Parisian firm established by his father, Célestin, after the latter's death in 1854. Remaining at the same address on the rue du Faubourg-du-Temple, the firm participated in the 1867, 1878 and 1889 Paris Expositions universelles, winning awards and favourable comments from critics at each. After 1880, Allard, now joined by his two sons, Fernand and George, directed production towards a wealthy American clientele, and in 1885 the firm opened a large branch in New York City. Collaborating with the Gilded Age's leading architects, most notably, Richard Morris Hunt, Allard & Fils' most important commissions included, among others, furnishings for the Vanderbilts' Newport mansions, Marble House and The Breakers (both designed by Hunt).
Pre-dating both of the above was Ochre Court (see facing page, top), the first of Hunt's spectacular Newport mansions, for which Allard & Fils supplied furnishings, including the present dining-table (see facing page, bottom). Commissioned by banker and real estate magnate Ogden Goelet (d. 1897) as his family's summer residence, and built between 1888 and 1891, the fifty-room château was conceived in the style of François I, a transitional era in French architecture, combining the heaviness of High Gothic with the lightness of the emergent early Renaissance. As it turned out, however, Hunt created a tremendous Beaux-Arts projet, magnificently unconcerned with reality, and highly eclectic, both in its design and interior decoration.