These meubles-d'appui belong to a celebrated group executed in the 1770s by the bnistes Adam Weisweiler (matre in 1778), Etienne Levasseur (matre in 1767) and Philippe-Claude Montigny (matre in 1766). Often commissioned by the marchand-mercier Claude-Franois Julliot (d. 1777) and, subsequently, his son Philippe, they reflect the Louis XVI fashion for furniture in the Louis XIV 'antique' taste associated with Andr-Charles Boulle. Interestingly, Levasseur was probably apprenticed to one of Boulle's sons and appears to have specialized in the repair of Boulle's oeuvre, as his stamp can be found on a large number of pieces by the latter.
As well as restoring existing Louis XIV Boulle furniture, Weisweiler, Levasseur and Montigny also produced furniture directly inspired by Boulle models, using the same techniques and often incorporating both late 17th century panels of marquetry and gilt-bronze mounts. These pieces, which are primarily meubles hauteur d'appui and bibliothques, fall into three different categories: those which adapt an existing piece by Boulle, such as the cabinet from the collection of the Hon. Lady Baillie (illustrated in C. Packer, Paris Furniture, 1956, fig. 176c); those which incorporate 17th Century elements but whose form is purely of the 1770s, including the Schillersdorf cabinets, a further cabinet at Waddesdon Manor (illustrated in the G. de Bellaigue, The James A. de Rothschild Collection at Waddesdon Manor, Furniture, Clocks and Gilt Bronzes, London, 1974, p.190, no. 40), a pair of smaller cabinets in the Wallace Collection (illustrated in P. Hughes, The Wallace Collection Catalogue of Furniture, vol. II, London, 1996, F393-4, no. 128, pp. 594-99), a pair of small cabinets from the collection of Lord Trevor, sold Christie's London, 14 April 1983, lot 96, and another larger example in the J. Paul Getty Museum (illustrated in C. Bremer-David, Decorative Arts, Malibu, 1993, p. 20, no. 15); and a third type, which is entirely of late 18th Century manufacture, such as a bibliothque by Levasseur in the Wallace Collection (F390) (illustrated in P. Hughes, op. cit., no. 120, pp. 546-53).
In their overall form and the distinctive treatment of the marquetry, particularly of the sides, as well as the ormolu mounts, the Schillersdorf cabinets can be tentatively attributed to Adam Weisweiler. In particular, the distinctive treatment of the side panels, with their foliate spray spandrels enclosing an ebony panel, as well as the acanthus-cast frieze with its pearled lower collar and amaranth-veneered reverse of the door, can all be seen on the pair of cabinets stamped by Weisweiler in the Wallace Collection (F393-4), as well as on the larger example at Waddesdon (no.40) and the pair of cabinets sold anonymously at Christie's New York, 14 November 1985, lot 194a, all of which were attributed to Weisweiler. Interestingly, the same template for the foliate marqutery panel of the plinth was used on a further pair of smaller cabinets in the Wallace Collection (P. Hughes, op.cit., F391-2, no. 127, pp. 585-94).
The distinctive figural mounts depicting Ceres, Flora, Boreas and Dionysus, each perched on a bracket in the form of a grotesque mask, are emblematic of the four Seasons. Although this specific model does not appear to have been used in Boulle's documented oeuvre, in their overall character and form, they are clearly inspired by the figures of the Seasons which appear, for instance, on the pair of armoires by Boulle at Versailles (illustrated in A. Pradre, Les Ebnistes Franais, Paris, 1987, fig. 22). The same, distinctive figures of Flora and Dionysus can be found on the cabinet attributed to Montigny in the Getty (C. Bremmer-David, op.cit.). While those of Boreas and Ceres feature on that from the collection of the Marquis of Lincolnshire (illustrated in M. Harris & Sons, A Catalogue and Index of Old Furniture and Works of Decorative Art, n.d., p. 437). Dionysus also appears on the cabinet at Waddesdon, and the figures of Flora and Ceres can be further seen on the pair of cabinets attributed to Boulle in the Royal Collection (illustrated in G. Laking, The Furniture of Windsor Castle, London, 1915, pp. 109-110, pl. 30).
Two mounts on the Schillersdorf cabinets which are undoubtedly taken from Boulle's stock are the rinceau foliate bas-relief frieze panel, which appears on the Lady Baillie piece, as well as the distinctive rosettes cast with acorns, which can be found on the clock case by Boulle in the Archives Nationales, Paris (illustrated in H. Ottomeyer/P. Prschel et al., Vergoldete Bronzen, vol. I, Munich, 1986, p. 45, fig. 1.4.4). The softness of the chasing, particularly of the figures, as well as the uneven treatment of the borders, suggest that the majority of the mounts, like the central contre-partie marquetry panel, are Louis XIV and re-used in the 1770's.
Schillersdorf was the vast hunting estate in Silesia of the Austrian Rothschilds. It was purchased by Salomon de Rothschild (d. 1911) in 1843 shortly after he was made a citizen of Vienna. His sons, Baron Alphonse (1878-1942) and Baron Louis Nathaniel (1882-1955) continued to use it, especially Louis Nathaniel, who was a renowned sportsman. It was confiscated first by the Nazis and then after World War II by the communist Czechoslovakian government, which converted it to a hotel training center which it remains today. Other important pieces of French furniture from Baron Alphonse's collection are now in the J. Paul Getty Museum, notably the great corner cupboard by Jacques Dubois and a secretaire mounted with Svres plaques by Martin Carlin (both illustrated in A. Sassoon and G. Wilson. op. cit., p. 17, no. 38 and pl. 21, no. 46).