This matched pair of commodes, almost certainly originally supplied as part of the same commission, relate to the celebrated group of Transitional commodes delivered by the fournisseur du Garde-Meuble Gilles Joubert. Often supplied in haste, they were largely subcontracted out to Joubert's fellow ébénistes, particularly Daniel De Loose, Roger van der Cruse, dit Lacroix and Jacques d'Autriche. As G. Wilson noted in Selection from the Decorative Arts in the J. Paul Getty Museum, Malibu, 1983, p. 60, no. 30, Joubert was already in his early 80's when this group was delivered to the Garde-Meuble. This fact, together with the enormous number of commissions from the Garde-Meuble from the late 1760's clearly explains why Joubert chose to play more of a supervisory role, sub-contracting much of the work to his confrères. Interestingly, between 1748 and 1774 Joubert delivered more than 4,000 pieces of furniture to the Garde-Meuble, no less than 169 of which were supplied in 1771. Although the 18th Century Inventory mark to the reverse of one of the Longleat commodes is yet to be traced, it may conceivably be that of a château furnished by the garde-meuble.
A particularly interesting comparison can be made with the matched pair of commodes, including the Royal commode delivered by Joubert to the comte and comtesse de Provence at the château de Marly on 27 May 1771. Sold anonymously at Christie's New York, 26 October 2000, lot 280 ($446,000), these were happily reacquired for the château de Marly. According to the Garde-Meuble bill, of these one was delivered for the comte de Provence's appartements at Marly, whilst its pair was meant for his wife's grand cabinet.
The price charged for the two commodes was 2,600 livres each, plus two brêche d'Alep marbles at 120 livres a piece, but, as was common practice, this price was ultimately reduced to 2,460 livres, with 100 livres for each marble. The accounts of Gilles Joubert provide some further supplementary details. This order was given on May 24th 1771 and the two commodes were delivered to the Garde-Meuble three days later. This unbelievably short turn-around time implies that Joubert went to one of his colleagues and must have found a pair of commodes by Deloose that corresponded in dimensions and decoration to the requirements of the Royal administration.
This type of 'mosaique' parquetry, but highlighted with brass studs, can be seen on the commode supplied by Joubert to Madame Louise of France, youngest daughter of Louis XV, for the château de Versailles in 1769. Now in the J. Paul Getty Museum, it is illustrated in G. Wilson, Summary Catalogue of European Decorative Arts in the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, 2001, no. 32.