François Linke (d. 1946) was one of the most celebrated ébénistes of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Born in Pankraz, Bohemia, Linke moved to Paris in 1875 and established independent ateliers at 170, rue de Faubourg St. Antoine. As was the practice among his contemporaries, Linke initially produced furniture derived from styles popular during the 18th century ancien régime. By 1900, his worldwide reputation as an individualistic master of high quality furniture was well established.
Winning the Medaille d'Or for his Grand Bureau at the 1900 Paris Exposition Universelle was to be the pinnacle of Linke's career. Critics such as Charles Dambreuse were prompted to comment: "L'Exposition de la maison Linke est le gros événement de l'histoire du meuble d'art en l'an de grâce 1900" (see C. Dambreuse, I'Art Industriel à l'Exposition de Meuble de Style - M. F. Linke, in Revue Artistique & Industrielle, Paris, July-August, 1900). Linke's international acclaim following the 1900 exhibition afforded him a high degree of financial stability, not only allowing him to establish a large showroom on the fashionable place Vendôme, but also to pursue new and further distant markets by exhibiting at other international shows.
The present model commode was produced in two sizes and in several variations. Besides the bulrush marquetry version shown here, a plain veneered model was offered, as well as another finished with coromandel lacquer (see C. Payne, François Linke 1855-1946, The Belle Epoque of French Furniture, Woodbridge, 2003, pp. 68-9).
Another example of this model commode sold Sotheby's New York, 30 October 2003, lot 219 ($63,000).