Bernard II van Risenburgh, maître in 1733.
The son of a cabinet-maker of Dutch origin, Bernard II van Risenburgh is arguably the most celebrated ébéniste of the Rococo period. Elected maître in October 1730, van Risenburgh established his workshop independently of his father's in the Faubourg-Saint-Antoine, where he began to produce furniture distinguished principally by the extraordinary quality of its conception, construction and innovative ormolu mounts. Throughout his career, BVRB worked almost exclusively for the marchand-merciers and, unlike many of his contemporaries, he had almost no direct contact with his illustrious private clientele. In this respect, he is singularly a product of the marchand-mercier system. It was through the intervention of the well-known marchands for whom BVRB worked, therefore, particularly Thomas-Joachim Hébert and, subsequently from the mid-1750s Lazare Duvaux and Simon-Philippe Poirier, that his furniture was delivered to the principal patrons of the day - foremost among them being the Garde-Meuble de la Couronne.
BVRB is perhaps most celebrated not only for his employment of innovative materials in his furniture, particularly panels of Chinese and Japanese lacquer and Sèvres porcelain plaques, but additionally his masterful bois de bout floral marquetry. BVRB has been credited with reviving the fashion for floral marquetry decoration on furniture, a taste which had been out of favor since the Régence period. Indeed, the first deliveries of floral marquetry furniture to the Garde-Meuble were by the marchand-mercier Thomas-Joachim Hébert in 1745 for the Dauphin and the Dauphine at Versailles, and these were almost entirely by BVRB, embellished with his characteristic bois-de-bout marquetry of end-cut floral trails in kingwood on a bois satiné and, subsequently, on a tulipwood ground. BVRB is also renowned for the extraordinary design, burnishing and chasing of his ormolu mounts, which are uniquely found among his oeuvre and do not recur, as was typically the case, on furniture by other makers. It is assumed, therefore, that he either designed and cast his own mounts - a rare practice for an ébéniste of the period and in direct contravention of the strict guild regulations - or that they were reserved by the bronzier for his exclusive use.
In accordance with the guild rules, Van Risenburgh stamped his furniture, but he used only the initials BVRB and it was not until the 1950's that this abbreviated stamp was associated with this celebrated maker, (see J.P. Baroli, 'Le mystérieux B.V.R.B, enfin identifié', Connaissance des arts, March, 1957).
The encadrement framing mounts, apron and foot mounts employed on this commode are nearly identical to those found on a lacquer commode by B.V.R.B sold from a private European collection, Christie's New York, 23 October 2003, lot 670. The angle mounts found here are seen on another commode in bois-de-bout marquetry sold anonymously, Sotheby's New York, 11 June 1982 and illustrated in A. Pradère, Les Ebénistes Français de Louis XIV à la Révolution, Paris, 1989, p. 190, fig. 176.