Adam Weisweiler, maître in 1778.
DOMINIQUE DAGUERRE AND THE DESIGN OF THE CONSOLE
With its mahogany frame, this console reflects the English taste introduced to Paris by the marchand-merciers such as Dominique Daguerre (d. 1796), who specialized in supplying objets de luxe to the French Court and, after the Revolution, particularly to the English nobility. Established in the rue St. Honoré, in the 1780's Daguerre opened up a shop in Picadilly, London, to supply George, Prince of Wales and his circle. A related pair of consoles desserte by Claude-Charles Saunier was supplied by Daguerre to Earl Spencer for Spencer House, London. Now at Althorp, they were described in Daguerre's invoice of 31 May 1791, where they were priced at 1,920 livres. One such mirror-backed 'table de desserte', executed in the late 1780s by Weisweiler, had featured in Daguerre's furnishing of a Chinese salon in the Carlton House residence of George, Prince of Wales, later George IV (T. Sheraton, The Cabinet-Maker and Upholsterer's Drawing-Book, 1793; and 'Carlton House; The Past Glories of George IV's Palace', London, 1991, no.55.)
A design, reproduced here, which can be attributed to Daguerre also features these frieze tablets in what appears to be a preparatory drawing for a pair of lacquer-veneered cabinets now in the Louvre, Paris (meubles a hauteur d'appui), that also bear the brand of A. Weisweiler (D. Alcouffe, Furniture Collections in the Louvre, Paris, vol 1., 1993, no. 99.)
This console desserte is exactly the style of refined neoclassical furniture that Daguerre marketed so successfully in England in the 1790's. Christie's held two sales--one anonymously but probably the stock of Daguerre, on 15-17 March 1790, the other, on 25 March 1791 of SUPERB ARTICLES IN FRENCH OR-MOULU...IMPORTED FROM PARIS BY MONS. DAGUERRE which contained numerous related items. It is therefore interesting to note that Frances, Viscountess Irwin, purchased lots 55, 71 and 79 in the latter. Also, lots 77 and 78 on 25 March 1791 sale are described as:
'A mahogany pier table with marble top and or-moulu fluted pillars an mountings
A ditto companion'
While lot 49 on 16 May 1792 was described as being:
'A pair of elegant mahogany pier tables, magnificently mounted with or-moulu'
These descriptions are, however, too brief to allow categoric identification and the buyers names are not clearly recorded. This interest in extremely French objets and bronzes d'ameublement in the taste expounded by Daguerre makes Viscountess Irwin an extremely likely candidate to have acquired this console desserte.
THE MARQUESSES OF HERTFORD
Isabella, daughter of Viscountess Irwin, a confidante of George, Prince of Wales (later George IV), who married Francis, 2nd Marquess of Hertford in 1776, is also a strong possibility as the purchaser of the console. The Inventory of her possessions at Hertford House, Manchester Square, taken following her death in 1834, shows that she shared her mother's taste in French furniture and objets, some of which were sold at Phillips, 16 June 1834 (see R. Savill, The Wallace Collection: Catalogue of Sèvres Porcelain, London, 1988, vol. III.)
The present console was listed, along with its pair and the Nissim de Camondo console, in 1834 following the death of Isabella, Marchioness of Hertford-
a) Inventory and Valuation of the Property in Hertford House, Manchester Square taken the 26 May 1834 & following days on the part of the [2nd] Marquess of Hertford to garde payment of the Legacy duty.
'p.13. The Marchionesses Private Sitting Room. East Corner.
An elegant Parisian Console Table with Plate Glass back and statuary shelves and top for the display of China with brass galleries & rich mountains of Ormolu. 25.0.0.
A pair of ditto. 40.0.0.'
The consoles are listed again in 1843 following the death of the 3rd Marquess of Hertford-
b) Inventory of all the Furniture, Glasses, China, Pictures. & Effects at Hertford House,Manchester Square, the Property of the Most Noble the Marquess ofHertford taken by Mm. Phillips, 73 New Bond Street, 1843.
'Principal Floor.Sitting Room'.
An elegant Parisian Console Table with plate glass back, statuary shelves & top, brass galleries & rich ormolu mounts.
A pair of ditto to correspond.'
The table and its companions were listed a third time in the early 1870's at Hertford House, London following the death of Richard Seymour-Conway, 4th Marquess of Hertford (d. 1870). They were recorded in a room named after Isabella Shepheard, 2nd Marchioness of Hertford, who had died in 1834-
'The Marchioness's Private Sitting Room. East Corner.
An elegant Parisian consol table with plate glass back & statuary shelves and top for the display of china, with brass galleries & rich mountings of ormolu.
A pair of ditto.'
(List of Furniture, Porcelain, Pictures, etc. Removed from Manchester House, Manchester Square: The property of the most Honorable the Marquis of Hertford, c. 1871. Walls MS Ragley Hall papers no. 21F photocopy. CR114A/720/7)
The pair to the present 'table de desserte' is likely to be that formerly in the possession of Etienne Levy (N. de Reynies, Le Mobilier Domestique, vol. 1, Paris, 1987, p. 332, no. 1183). In 1870 the pair of tables appear to have accompanied a third table (longer by 20cm.), and the latter is probably that now in the Nissim de Camondo Museum, Paris, and is illustrated here.
THE ORMOLU MOUNTS
The frieze motif of guilloche with sunflowers, roses and arrows found on this console is present on a number of examples by Weisweiler, and is datable in execution to circa 1785-1788. Much of Weisweiler's manufactures, as is likely to be the case with this console, were enhanced by the exquisite delicacy of the bronze-chasing of François Rémond (d. 1812), elected master of the Corporation des Doreurs in 1774. Flowered tablets of this pattern also feature on a related 'desserte' in the Musée Cognac-Jay, Paris (de Reynies, op.cit., pl. 332, no. 1182). A smaller mahogany console with white marble shelf and identical frieze mount but with a pierced entrelac stretcher centered by an flaming urn and stamped Riesener is illustrated in the exhibition catalogue, Les Grands Ebénistes du XVIIIe Siècle, 1740-1790, Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris, December 1956-February 1996, pl. 55, cat. 266 (from the collection of Mme André Hammel). One such mirror-backed 'table de desserte' , executed in the late 1780s by Weisweiler, had featured in Daguerre's furnishing of a Chinese salon in the Carlton House residence of George, Prince of Wales, later George IV (T. Sheraton, The Cabinet-Maker and Upholsterer's Drawing-Book,1793; and 'Carlton House; The Past Glories of George 1V's Palace', London, 1991, no.55.)
This 'Roman' marble sideboard 'console-desserte' is designed by Daguerre in a Pompeian or 'Gout Grec' fashion to evoke lyric poetry and the banquet of the gods in antiquity. It is serpentined with bow-fronted façade and 'columnar' corners, and embellished with Egyptian-striated ribbons and tablets. Its shelves are galleried by heart-fretted rubbon-guilloches and mirror-backed to reflect the 'deserte', while its paired and antique-fluted Doric columns are mirror-inverted in harmony with the triumphal garland wreathing the entablature. Displayed in Grecian pearl-wreathed tablets are serpentined ribboned guilloches, whose inverted triumphal arches enwreath flowered and foliated 'arabesques'. Here Venus's sacred roses are united with Cupid's laurel-wreathed darts. However the latter could also refer to Apollo as god of poetry, since the guilloche also displays the sunflower, emblemtical of his love Clytie, and this alternates with foliated stems enriched with bacchic vines and Jupiter's vivifying fulcrum.