Jacques Dubois, matre in 1742.
Although Dubois did not receive his matrise until the age of forty-eight, he was almost certainly employed in the atelier of his half-brother, Nol Grard from the late 1720s, the latter acting as witness to his marriage in Paris in 1730. Established in the rue de Charenton, Dubois enjoyed the privileges of an ouvrier libre and was thus unfettered by the strict guild regulations endured by his fellow bnistes. Although Dubois' career is thinly documented, he is known to have worked for the marchands-merciers Lger Bertin and Pierre II Migeon and this bureau plat, with its vernis Martin in imitation of exotic Oriental lacquer, would almost certainly have been commissioned through the intervention of a marchand-mercier.
As the Inventory taken following his death in 1763 clearly testifies, Dubois maintained an extensive stock of gilt-bronze mounts - 432 livres pesant de modles de bronze, priss 1 080 L - and the Rothschild bureau plat displays Dubois' characteristic foliate-wrapped chutes. These feature on both the Japanese lacquer secrtaire en pente, undoubtedly also supplied by a marchand-mercier and stamped with the C couronn poinon, illustrated in A. Pradre, Les Ebnistes Franais de Louis XIV la Rvolution, Paris, 1989, p. 170, fig. 148, as well as on the bureau de dame sold from the Alexander Collection, Christie's New York, 30 April 1999, lot 140.
Intriguingly, the stylised foliate-spray clasp to each end does not appear to have been exclusively owned by Dubois, as it appears on another Rothschild bureau plat by BVRB, veneered in amaranth and Chinese lacquer and stamped with the C couronn poinon, which was offered at Christie's London, 10 June 1993, lot 34. BVRB worked almost exclusively for the marchands-merciers, particularly Thomasachim Hbert, Lazare Duvaux and Simon-Philippe Poirier and, like Dubois, is thought to have either cast his own mounts or ordered his bronzier or marchand to retain the models for his exclusive use. The presence of this shared mount between Dubois and BVRB would seem to suggest, therefore, that either the same bronzier or, more probably marchand, was involved in both commissions. A further parallel, although more removed, can be drawn with the mounts of another contemporary, Joseph Baumhauer, dit Joseph, who displayed similar rectangular drawer frames with cabochon-clasps to the angles on the Japanese lacquer bureau plat in the Louvre (illustrated in D. Alcouffe et al., Furniture Collections in the Louvre, I, Dijon, 1993, no. 59, p. 189).
Although Dubois was certainly supplying furniture with Oriental lacquer and vernis martin decoration from at least the late 1740s, the enduring popularity of his Chinoiserie furniture is further confirmed by the 1763 Inventory. Amongst the numerous examples of furniture de la Chine and du Japon was 1 bureau de vernis de la Chine garni de bronze, 220 l.
Dubois' masterpiece, the corner cupboard designed by Nicolas Pineau and supplied by Dubois through the marchand-mercier Lullier of Warsaw in 1753 for Count Klemens Brenicki, was also formerly in the collection of Baron Nathaniel de Rothschild in Vienna. Now in the J. Paul Getty Museum, it is illustrated in C. Bremmer-David, Decorative Arts An Illustrated Summary Catalogue of the Collections of the J. Paul Getty Museum, Malibu, 1993, no. 35, pp. 31-2.