This highly refined meuble d'appui shows similarities with the work of a number of ébénistes active at the end of the reign of Louis XVI, notably Guillaume Beneman and Bernard Molitor. The distinctive diamond motif framing the lockplates appears on a commode attributed to Beneman, illustrated in A. Pradère, French Furniture Makers, Paris, 1989, p. 411, fig. 507, while the unusual Medusa's head mounts are found on a commode and a secrétaire à abattant by Molitor, illustrated in U. Leben, Molitor, London, 1992, pp. 88, 89 and 93. Escutcheons flanked by swans also feature on a secretaire from the Consulat period by Molitor, illustrated in U. Leben et al., Bernard Molitor 1755-1833, exh. cat., Luxembourg, 1995, p. 113, cat. 40. The severe neoclassical style of this piece is typical of the oeuvre of these German cabinet-makers working in Paris at the end of the 18th century. The offered lot also relates to a commode stamped by Jacques-Laurent Cosson, sold Parke-Bernet Galleries, New York, 25 May 1968, lot 93. Both pieces share the characteristics of quarter-veneered tulipwood panels within beading and Medusa mask mounts.
Miss Alice Tully was the daughter of a Republican state senator and grand-daughter of Amory Houghton, the founder of Corning Glass. One of the greatest patrons of music and musicians of this century, she entirely financed anonymously a concert series, the Musica Aeterna, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, while the most important and visible memorial to her charity is the Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center.
Sarah Kelly, the interior designer whom Alice Tully met in France before the war, guided the building of her remarkable collection of pictures, drawings, sculpture and decorative arts that were to fill the five apartments that made up the entire 27th floor of Hampshire House, which became her home until her death in 1993.
Miss Tully bought discriminately and chose works that reflected her interests in the art cultures of France and Italy, particularly the 18th and 19th centuries. The collection encompassed such diverse works as paintings by Giacomo Guardi, Claude Monet, René Magritte and Tintoretto, Egyptian, Hittite, French and Italian sculpture, and fine French furniture by such makers as Jean-Henri Riesener, René Dubois and André-Charles Boulle.