André-Charles Boulle, appointed Ebéniste, Ciseleur, Doreur et Sculpteur du Roi in 1672.
The label, now more fragmentary than at the time of the 1990 sale, was then recorded as being inscribed Mrs. W. P. Lomas.
BOULLE'S BIBLIOTHÈQUES BASSES
This model of bibliothèque basse appears surprisingly late in the oeuvre of André-Charles Boulle, probably being produced from circa 1700 when the ébéniste was already sixty years old.
In the 1715 acte de délaisement between Boulle and his sons, only one piece of this type is mentioned:- une armoire de 6 pieds de long (198cm.) en marqueterie et de bronze à trois portes, faite à la réserve de quelques bronzes et preste à dorer, commandée valant 1.000 livres. Une pareille armoire qui est la contrepartie de celle mentionné cy-dessus était également commandée valant 850 livres (J.P. Samoyault, André-Charles Boulle et sa famille, Geneva, 1979, pp.65-66).
Five years later, following the terrible fire that ravaged Boulle's premises on 30 August 1720, the ébéniste managed to save deux petites armoires plus basses,.... aussi en forme de bibliothèque, fermées avec ses glaces.
These latter bookcases, ordered by the duc de Bourbon, are recorded in the galerie des Conquêtes at the château de Chantilly in 1740 and remained there until their seizure during the Revolution. Now in the Musée du Louvre, Paris, the Chantilly bibliothèques are now placed alongside four further bibliothèques, two of which are mounted with a figure of Mars. This second group comprises two en première partie and two en contre-partie, of which OA 5462 and OA5459 are illustrated in D. Alcouffe, Le Mobilier du Musée du Louvre, Dijon, 1993, Vol. I, no.28, p.98 and no.29, p.100.
All six of the Louvre bibliothèques - the two other pairs having been seized from the duc de Noailles and the duc de Brissac during the Revolution - were sent to the château de Saint-Cloud in 1802 and placed in the Galerie d'Apollon. From 1839, under the auspices of King Louis-Philippe, much of the Boulle furniture in the Galerie d'Apollon was altered in height to achieve a uniformity of scale, and all of the bibliothèques basse now in the Louvre still retain this later addition to the plinth, which alters their proportions considerably.
This type of bas d'armoire, enriched with figures of Pomona, Ceres, Mars and Bacchus enjoyed enormous success from 1720, and this fashion was again revived during the Neo-Classical movement of the 1770's, when they were frequently surmounted by a precious marble, such as griotte d'Italie, brèche violette etc. Moreover, ébénistes such as Adrien Delorme are known to have copied the model, an example being that in the Wallace Collection, London (P. Hughes, The Wallace Collection Catalogue of Furniture, London, 1998, Vol. II, no.119, pp.541-546).
Contre-partie bibliothèques basses of this form, with a figure of Pomona on the central door, are described in several 18th Century sales, including those of the marquis de Marigny, brother of Madame de Pompadour (sold in Paris, 18 March - 6 April 1782, lot 585), the comte de Merle (Paris, 1 March 1784, lot 208), the duc de Choiseul-Praslin (Paris, 18 February 1793, lot 242) and the marchand Grandpré (Paris, 16 February 1809, lot 286).
Related examples, also mounted with the figure of Pomona but en première partie, are recorded: one was in the collection of Anna Gould; a pair, formerly in the collection of Madame Walter Guillaume, was with Galerie Segoura, Paris; and a final pair, formerly in the collection of Helena Rubenstein, New York, is now in a Swiss private Collection.
Finally, in the celebrated sale held by Mr. Robins at Wanstead house, 10 June 1822 and 31 following days, thirteenth day's sale, 26 June 1822, lot 37 was described as:
A MAGNIFICENT EBONY FRAME BUHL AND TORTOISE-SHELL ANTIQUE PARISIAN ARMOIRE, With rich pierced Gothic Gallery round the top, fitted up inside with Shelves, lined crimson Genoa Velvet, enclosed in the centre by Panelled Door, and Plate Glass Door on each side, with costly rich chased Ornaments and Mouldings, the Ends to correspond, on French Feet, 4-feet-11 wide, 1-foot-3 deep, and 2-feet-10 high.
This must correspond to a bibliothèque basse of this overall model.