Nicolas Sageot, maître in 1706.
The top of this spectacular commode recalls Ovid's 'Metamorphoses', with Arcadian deities celebrating 'Love's Triumph' and 'Peace and Plenty'. Its golden ground is polychromed and richly filigreed in the 'antique' or 'arabesque' manner popularized through the engravings of Jean Bérain (d. 1711). Cupid and a palm-bearing victory attend Pallas-Athena, who is seated on a lambrequined plinth beneath a garlanded baldacchino, which relates closely to Bérain's published designs. The corner spandrels, like the drawer-fronts, display Ceres' fruit-filled cornucopiae and shell-dressed masks of nature deities, while Venus shells embellish the trussed brackets beneath the pilasters. The arms of the top, which appear to be associated, are those adopted in 1685 by Philippe Charles III, duc d'Arenberg (1663-1691) following his instigation as a Knight of the Order of the Golden Fleece.
THE SAGEOT ATTRIBUTION
The overall form of the Thyssen commode, along with particular features such as the marquetry panels of the sides and drawer-fronts, the ormolu mouldings framing the drawers and the distinctive engraved guilloche border of the top, all relate closely to a commode in première partie stamped by the marchand-ébéniste Nicolas Sageot, previously in the collections of the Dukes of Newcastle, Clumber Park, Nottinghamshire, sold in these Rooms, 16 December 1999, lot 50 (£287,500). The discovery of the Sageot stamp on the Clumber commode has enabled the attribution to this little known maker of a group of commodes of closely related form and decoration, recorded in P. Grand, 'Le Mobilier Boulle et les ateliers de l'époque', L'Estampille/L'Objet d'Art, February 1993, pp. 60-1. Grand also suggests the specialist inlayer Toussaint Devoye as a possible marqueteur for this group of commodes. Other closely related commodes include one from the collection of Barbara Piasecka Johnson, previously in the collection of the duchesse de Talleyrand, sold Sotheby's New York, 21 May 1992, lot 69 ($385,000), and another with the same pattern for the top but with Ceres in place of Pallas-Athena, sold from the collection of Monsieur X., Sotheby's Monaco, 24 June 1984, lot 3053 (FF 1,332,000).
The existence of two further commodes of this type, both stamped with the initials 'AG' (one sold Etude Tajan, Paris, 25 June 1996, lot 183, and another sold from the property of a European Collector, Christie's New York, 21 October 1997, lot 31 ($255,500), leads to the possibility that Sageot, an active marchand, may have been the retailer of these commodes rather than the actual maker. The stamp 'AG' is almost certainly that of the ébéniste Aubertin Gaudron who supplied the Garde Meuble between 1686 and 1713.
NICOLAS SAGEOT (1666-1731)
First recorded in Paris in 1698, Sageot achieved his maîtrise in 1706 and was based in the faubourg Saint-Antoine. He evidently rapidly expanded his business, as by 1711 he had 12,000 livres, almost all in stock-in-trade. The extensive nature of his business is revealed by the sale in 1720 to Léonard Prieur 'Marchand Mercier Grossier Joaillier Priviligié suivant la Cour' of 16,000 livres of furniture, consisting of a wide range of armoires, bureaux and commodes.