Pierre Macret, ébéniste suivant la Cour from 1756.
Pierre Macret, established in rue Saint-Honore, was appointed marchand-ébéniste privilégié du Roi in 1756 and fournisseur ordinaire des menus-plaisirs du Roi in 1764. He was patronised by the Marquis de Marigny, brother of Madame de Pompadour, and supplied him with furniture worth 1890 livres. From 1771, he is recorded as marchand mercier, and supplied furniture to Marie-Antoinette. Furniture bearing his stamp is at the château de Versailles, the Nissim de Camondo museum, Paris, the Cleveland Museum of Arts, the Hillwood Museum and Gardens, Washington D.C., and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
With its distinctive pictorial marquetry, this commode belongs to a group of late Louis XV commodes stamped by such celebrated ébénistes as André-Louis Gilbert (maître in 1774), Pierre Roussel (maître in 1745), Christophe Wolff (maître in 1755) and Jacques Dautriche (maître in 1765).
Pictorial marquetry panels were often based on engraved sources, and Geoffrey de Bellaigue discussed the possibility that specialist marqueteurs such as Wolff and Gilbert would have supplied marquetry panels to marchand-merciers as well as other ébénistes, while it is also likely that large ateliers employed their own marqueteurs (G. de Bellaigue, 'Ruins in Marquetry', Apollo, January, 1968, pp.12-16 and G. de Bellaigue, 'Engravings and the French Eighteenth-Century Marqueteur', Burlington Magazine, May 1965, pp. 240-250 and July 1965, pp. 356-363).
The central marquetry panel of this commode, framed in an ormolu tablet with flowered corners, presents a contemporary French historical scene of an embassy or peace treaty, while statues of an ancient hero and a Victory figure appear in the flanking vignettes. Similar statues framed by baldachino drapery are displayed in tablets at the sides of the commode.
These statues, together with similarly inlaid pilasters, feature on a related unstamped commode with a central cappricio of Roman ruins in the manner of P.-A. de Machy (d.1807), sold Christie's, London, 17 June 1987, lot 59, and then from the collection of Hussein Pacha, Ader Tajan, Paris, 14 March 1993, lot 165. Interestingly, the latter commode's lambrequined apron bears an ormolu mount displaying a Mercury head. This apron mount, together with the statues, appear on a further commode by Macret's, sold Christie's, London, 26 November 1970, lot 126. The latter's central vignette, relating to that of the present commode, depicts baldachino drapery revealing a scene to the glory of Louis XV in the manner of Claude Vignon (d.1670) (P. Kjellberg, Le Mobilier Français du XVIIIe siècle, Paris, 2002, p.589, fig.f).
Alfred de Rothschild (d.1918), who inherited part of the collection formed by his father Baron Lionel de Rothschild (d.1879), lived at 3 Seamore Place, London, and built Halton, Buckinghamshire, in the early 1880s. A catalogue of his London art collection was published in 1884, and he became a trustee of both the Wallace Collection and the National Gallery. His homes were furnished with the finest 18th century French decorative arts, which he willed to his nephew Lionel de Rothschild at Exbury, and the Countess of Carnarvon, who also inherited Seamore Place (G. Heuberger, The Rothschilds, Woodbridge, 1995, pp.278-283).