This magnificent pair of consoles once formed part of an unusually well documented panelled room supplied to the Président de Rosières for one of the most important mansions in Besançon. Long considered one of the masterpieces of the decorative arts in Besançon, it was displayed earlier in the century in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York and later served as the showroom for one of New York's premier dealers in 18th century furniture, French and Company.
This finely carved panelled salon was commissioned in 1789 by François-Gabriel Chappuis de Rosières, while Président of the Franche Comté parliament, for his hôtel in Besançon. It was part of a series of lavish refurbishments supervised by Claude-Antoine Colombot (1747-1821), an architect who had trained in Paris under Jean-Louis Desprez, an influential designer and architect who was largely credited with introducing the neoclassical style to Sweden. These consoles were placed between the windows under Colombot's direction and were executed by the sculpteur Joseph-André Privé, who agreed to install them in the salon by 12 November 1789. A further single larger console, sold anonymously at Christie's New York, 23 October 1998, lot 168, was placed opposite the chimneypiece. Based with modifications on a design by Colombot, this latter console was flanked by finely carved Ionic pilasters, whilst the panelling of the room was carved with delicate rinceau foliage in the elegant goût étrusque so fashionable in the 1780s. The salon was also embellished with the cypher ' C R ', the Président's initials.
THE LATER HISTORY OF THE SALON
Remarkably, the entire salon remained intact at least until 1902, when it was illustrated in situ by Gaston Coindre. It later passed into the collection of Comte Amedeo de Broglie (who had married a member of the Saye family), when the cypher was changed to ' S B '. The room was later displayed for a brief period at the Metropolitan Museum, when it was known as the de Broglie room as the earlier provenance was not at that stage known, until being replaced in 1946 by the salon from the hôtel de Tess, which remains there today. The Rosière salon was then sold to French and Company and was for many years used as its New York showroom in a grand setting filled with fine French furniture, even being used on occasion as a location for fashion photographs by Cecil Beaton.
This pair of consoles was executed after a design by Richard de Lalonde, now in Berlin, reproduced in Die Französichen Zeichnungen der Kunstbibliotek Berlin, 402. HD2 3629. The pierced arabesques on the frieze and the triple addorsed claw feet appear on another drawing by Lalonde also in Berlin, reproduced op. cit. HD2 3628 (see illustrations above). Lalonde, like Delafosse, was one of the most talented ornamental designers of the Louis XVI period and was repeatedly commissioned to execute projects for the royal residences. For instance, Salverte mentions drawings for consoles intended for the King's games room at Saint Cloud, that are dated 1788 (F.J.B. Watson, Le Meuble Louis XVI, Paris, 1963, pp.80-81).
A console table also probably from a design by Richard de Lalonde, displaying a similar pierced frieze to that of the above, is in the Musée du Louvre, reproduced in Charles A. Packer, Paris Furniture by the Master Ebénistes, Newport, 1956, fig. 200.