Martin Carlin, maître in 1766.
CARLIN'S LACQUER FURNITURE
Carlin is justly famous for the jewel-like quality of the furniture he produced, in particular for the variety of tables decorated with sumptuous materials, such as Sèvres porcelain, hardstones and Japanese lacquer. These tables are a rare use of extremely high quality Japanese lacquer in Carlin's oeuvre, reusing the drawers of a 17th century cabinet provided to the cabinet-maker by a marchand-mercier for an exceptionally rich and discerning client. Indeed, Carlin is known to have worked exclusively for the marchands-merciers, particularly Dominique Daguerre.
By the mid-1770s Carlin's production of porcelain-mounted furniture declined and from the late 1770s he was producing fashionable Japanese lacquer-mounted pieces. These include a commode and two encoignures delivered through the marchands-merciers the Darnault brothers for Madame Adelaide's grand cabinet at Bellevue in 1781 for 7200 livres and now in the Louvre (D. Alcouffe et al., Furniture Collections in the Louvre, Dijon, 1993, vol. I. pp. 248-253). Although the commode has subsequently lost its panels of Japanese lacquer, the encoignures have kept theirs. Madame Adelaide's Grand Cabinet also contained another pair of encoignures supplied in 1780 (D. Alcouffe et al., op cit, pp. 246-247), a console with a veined white marble top supplied in 1782 and a desk supplied in 1784. All of these pieces decorated with panels of Japanese lacquer were probably supplied by Carlin. Another set, also in the Louvre, with richer mounts and incorporating exceptional panels of Japanese lacquer taken from a Japanese lacquer cabinet purchased by the Darnaults at the duc d'Aumont's sale in 1782, was supplied by the Darnaults for Madame Victoire's Grand Cabinet at Bellevue (D. Alcouffe et al., op cit, pp. 254-259). The commode, unfinished at the time of Carlin's death, was delivered at a cost of 6500 livres in 1785. The encoignures, delivered in the same year, were probably made by Carlin's successor Gaspard Schneider. The same delivery also included a table en chiffonnière and a bureau plat, the latter also finished by Schneider, both now in the Louvre (op. cit., pp. 260-261).
Carlin also supplied furniture mounted with Japanese lacquer to the marchand-mercier Dominique Daguerre. The commode à encoignures by Carlin in the Louvre, formerly in the collection of the marquise de Brunoy, was probably supplied by Daguerre, (D. Alcouffe, op. cit., p. 239). Further examples of Carlin furniture veneered in Japanese lacquer include the series of tables à liseuse, inlcuding that also originally in the collection of Baron Henri de Rothschild (sold from Boulle to Jansen, Christie's London, 11 June 2003, lot 15) and the table in Jones Collection at the Victoria and Albert Museum (1028-1882), which displays the same roundel decorated frieze; as well as the pietra dura mounted centre table sold from the collection of André Meyer, Christie's New York, 26 October 2001, lot 50 ($1,436,000).
In both character and design, perhaps the closest parallel to the Champalimaud tables is the sécretaire à abattant from the collection of William Beckford at Fonthill. Also displaying three tiered Spanish brocatelle marble slabs with identical galleries and baluster supports, it is now in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London and is illustrated and discussed in C. Wainwright, 'William Beckford's Furniture, Connoisseur, vol.191, 1976, p.291, fig.2. Sold in the Fonthill sale of 1823 as lot 1520, it was described as 'A black and gold INDIA JAPAN cabinet with finely chased or-moulu mouldings, fall down front covered with green leather, forming SECRETAIRE, with brass gallery and Brocadella slab.'
Beckford's obsession with 'Japan mania' is well documented, in 1797 writing:- 'You are in possession of my sentiments respecting the Bouillon Collection. No pains should be spared to attempt getting hold of it, I am in fact more anxious about the Japans than the pictures - and surely they might be induced to part with the whole of them in a lump and for a good price which no one else can or would give them - for these trifling toys cannot be precious in any eyes except such as are affected with the Japan-mania in a violent incurable degree'. He did eventually succeed in buying much of the duc de Bouillon's lacquer collection. A further pair of secrétaires owned by Beckford, again using drawers from a 17th century Japanese cabinet and with Spanish brocatelle slabs, but executed by Saunier rather than Carlin, reputedly from the comte d'Artois' collection at Bagatelle, was sold from the collection of Mrs. Marella Agnelli, Sotheby's New York, 23 October 2004, lot 38.
BARON HENRI DE ROTHSCHILD (1872-1946)
The son of Nathan James and grandson of James, nephew of Arthur and brother of Baronne Leonino, Henri de Rothschild tragically lost his parents very young. An art historian who wrote under the pseudonym André Pascal, he published a monograph on Chardin in 1931. Owner of château de Mouton and a grand hôtel in the rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, where these tables probably came from, Henri de Rothschild was the builder of the château de la Muette, which was furnished in part by Ruhlmann and has been the headquarters of OECD since 1953.