Pierre Roussel, maître in 1745.
Designed in the Louis XVI 'à la Grecque' fashion, this eye-catching commode celebrate's lyric poetry with its inlaid 'Pastorales'. Fisherman sport in a flourishing countrside, where a domed church rises among pagan classical ruins. Ovid's 'Metamorphoses' are recalled by golden bas-relief sunflowers that are tied in a frieze of ribbon-guilloches. The flowers are sacred to the poetry deity Apollo, whose laurels also festoon the trophy of love's sacred urn that emerges from Roman foliage on its lambrequined apron.
The charming marquetry pastorales, which combine classical ruins with eighteenth century figures engaged in leisurely pursuits, are a recurring feature in Roussel's oeuvre. Such distinctively pictorial marquetry panels were often based on engraved sources, for instance a series of eight engravings by F. Basan, one of which entitled Vi Ruine featured similar arcaded ruins and derived from a painting by P.-A. de Machy (d. 1807), a painter who specialized in classical scenes (see G. de Bellaigue, 'Ruins in Marquetry', Apollo, January 1968, pp. 12-16 for a general discussion for the engraved sources for this type of marquetry).
De Bellaigue also discussed the possibility that specialist marqueteurs such as Christophe Wolff (maître in 1755) and André-Louis Gilbert (maître in 1774) would have supplied such marquetry panels to other ébénistes, while it also likely that large ateliers such as Roussel's would have employed their own in-house marqueteurs (see also G. de Bellaigue, 'Engravings and the French Eighteenth-Century Marqueteur', Burlington Magazine, May 1965, pp. 240-250 and July 1965, pp. 356-363).
Two closely related commodes by Roussel have appeared recently on the market, one sold from the collection of Lord Kinnaird, Rossie Priory, Perthshire, sold in these Rooms, 22 June 1989, lot 104 (£71,500 inc. premium), and another, rather more sparsely mounted, sold anonymously, Sotheby's Monaco, 24 June 2000, lot 181 (FF 892, 500 inc. premium).