L'HOTEL DE BOTTEREL - QUINTIN
This hôtel, situated at 44 rue des Petits Ecuries in Paris, was built by the architect and builder Pérard de Montreuil. On the 5 April 1780, the construction contract and the building permission was granted between the architect and his client, the Intendant de Bourgogne Charles-Andre de la Corée (d. 1784).
It appears that the Intendant never lived in the hôtel. On 7 March 1785, it was purchased by the comte de Botterel-Quintin who acquired it on the condition that he could do any changes to it that he considered necessary. The comte bought the neighbouring parcel of land and constructed a dining room which he decorated with arabesque panelling and in which he displayed terracotta groups attributed to Clodion.
During the 19th century, the hôtel was owned by the duchesse d'Aumont, but its decoration was partially dismantled around 1880.
The middle of the façade opened onto the gardens from large windows, which in turn corresponded to three simulated ones on the opposite wall, of which the middle one was ornamented with a fireplace. At the end of the 19th Century, the art historian Champeaux described this room in the Art Decoratif dans le vieux Paris, p. 332, as:-
'Le grand salon, mieux conservae, bien qu'il ait été converti en chapelle n'a perdu que sa cheminé gracieusement supportee pas des colonnes en fuseaux et ornée de cuivres precieusement ciselés, qui a été acquise pas M. Peyre. Il y subsiste quatre panneaux en stuc peint et doré, dont les arabesques et les médallions rappellent les plus delicates compoitions de cauvet et de prieur.'
This description corresponds exactly to the boiseries in this lot, with the exception that the doors with their medallions are not mentioned.
In a photograph taken shortly before 1930, only two panels are still visible in situ; the two panels between the windows and the original chimneypiece probably already having been sold, as well as the original doors for each of the two door-frames. Interestingly one of these 'entre fenêtre' panels was already with the antique dealer Levy.
From the documentary evidence that survives, we know that the hotel remained unfinished when it was acquired by Botterel-Quintin. It was, therefore, in 1785-86 that the work was carried out and craftsmen including Ledoux, his brother-in-law Dugourc and the painter decorator Dussault are recorded as working on this project. The rich arabesque carving, which alternates between round and octagonal medallions decorated with 'Antique' figures, the whole reinterpreted with a modern approach with carved decoration of ribbon and floral motifs, attests to the realisation and design of a great architect.
PAINT ANALYSIS AND GILDING
A comparative scientific paint analysis has been carried out on the doors and elements of the original boiserie panels and is available with the department. In summary, the analysis concludes that 'the painted panels on the doors are eighteenth Century, but it is not possible to prove that they belong to the wall panels. They have been in the same house, in some form, since at least the 19th c., and were set into the present doors in the early or mid 20th.'
Whilst the grey background paint on the door panelling is very similar to the grey paint used on the wall-panelling, though it does not have a gesso ground, both the paint of the coloured decoration and the method of gilding do not match up. The gilding on the boiseries is the original water gilding over brown clay and gesso; that on the doors, although also original, is applied differently, over gesso, greyed white oil paint, yellow ochre oil paint and oil gilding over a greenish oil size. Similarly, whilst the colour on the boiseries is solid opaque layers of oil paint applied in a sketchy technique, that on the doors is of paint laid on in several layers, the paint being mixed with a lot of medium to create translucent colours, typical of eighteenth-century practice.