Bernard II van Risen Burgh, maître in 1730
Several of the mounts of this superb bureau plat occur on other works by BVRB, who was perhaps the most accomplished ébéniste of the Louis XV period. The two most closely related examples are a bureau plat in the Lesley and Emma Sheafer collection in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, which shares the distinctive chutes aux fleurs, the drawer handles and the mounts framing the central drawer (illustrated in W. Rieder, 'BVRB at the Met', Apollo, January 1994, p. 33, fig. 1), while the chutes, handles and central mounts also feature on a bureau plat by BVRB, supplied by the marchand-mercier Henri Lebrun in 1747 to the Dauphin, son of Louis XV, for his bibliothèque in his appartements at Versailles, now in a private collection in Paris (illustrated in P. Verlet, Le Mobilier Royal Français, Paris, 1990, vol. IV, pp. 40-1). Other related bureaux plats include one sold by Lavrin Guilloux, Palais Orsay, Paris, 19 December 1979, lot 82, and another sold in these Rooms, 7 December 1995, lot 108 £265,500. Another bureau plat by BVRB with the same distinctive motifs of fruit within the bois de bout marquetry was illustrated in L'Estampille L'Objet d'Art, 1990.
THE LONSDALE PROVENANCE
The intriguing stencilled brand on one of the drawers of this bureau plat indicates that it almost certainly formed part of the collection of the Earls of Lonsdale in their residence Barleythorpe Hall in Oakham, Rutland. Very similar stencilled brands but with the initials C.H.T. have been found on two pieces sold by Christie's recently which have been conclusively linked through inventory references to the Lonsdale London residence at 14-15 Carlton House Terrace - an early Louis XV commode by BVRB sold from the Alexander collection, Christie's New York, 30 April 1999, lot 100, and a George III commode by Langlois, sold by French and Company, Christie's New York, 24 November 1998, lot 35.
While it is not possible to link this bureau plat to a particular member of the Lonsdale family, it is likely to have been acquired either by William, 1st Earl of Lonsdale (d. 1844), who initiated the move into Carlton House Terrace in 1837, or his son Willam, 2nd. Earl of Lonsdale (1787-1872), who joined the two houses in Carlton House Terrace together, decorating them in the French manner. The 1st Earl was a noted francophile and intimate of George, Prince of Wales, and like the future King George IV, extensively patronized the celebrated purveyor of French works of art Edward Holmes Baldock, who may possibly have acquired the bureau plat on the Earl's behalf at one of the many spectacular sales of the period, and may even have undertaken the restoration of the bronzes for him.