Although it has not yet been possible to identify their stamped inventory numbers, according to documentation relating to their purchase in 1948, these sumptuous commodes and the following pair of matching pedestal cabinets (see lot 426) were reputedly supplied for King Umberto I of Italy, probably for the Palazzo Reale in Turin, circa 1896. After Umberto's assasination at Monza in 1900, it seems likely the suite remained in the royal collection until 1946, when Victor-Emmanuel III was forced to abdicate. At that time it was probably acquired by the firm of Galleria Navarra in Naples, before being purchased shortly afterwards by relatives of the current owners.
Laurel-festooned in celebration of 'abundance through labour', hung with lion-pelts recalling Hercules' labours, and inlaid with flowers issuing from Ceres' 'horns of abundance', the inspiration for the commodes is the celebrated bureau commissioned by Louis XV from Jean-François Oeben (maître 1759) in 1760, completed by Jean-Henri Riesener (maître 1768) in 1769, with mounts designed by Jean-Claude Duplessis (d. 1774). In the later 19th century, after the bureau du Roi had been moved from the Palais de Saint-Cloud, copies were manufactured by leading Parisian ébénistes, such as Alfred Beurdeley, Henry Dasson and François Linke. The latter also adapted the model for a commode and pedestal (both smaller than the present examples), a large bibliothèque, a bergère, and two pianos.
Operating from large premises at 43, boulevard des Capucines from 1886, and on the place Vendôme after 1908, the firm of Boudet was one of the most important Parisian retailers of haut luxe furniture, bronzes, objets d'art, silver and even jewellery. Furniture makers and sculptors who supplied them with merchandise, which was then stamped with the Boudet name, included among others Zwiener, Linke, Millet and Bonheur. In this instance, the maker is the relatively obscure, but evidently highly competent firm of Alphonse Lambert, whom despite the difference in address, is most probably the same individual recorded by Ledoux-Lebard as operating from premises at 75-79, rue du Commerce from 1875 (see D. Ledoux-Lebard, Le Mobilier français du XIXe Siècle, Paris, 1984, p. 401). The more important cachet of Boudet is illustrated here by their name engraved on the lock-plate, compared with the virtually concealed stencil of Lambert. Although difficult to decipher, the signature to the mounts is almost certainly that of Adolphe-Armand Truffier, a sculptor of gilt-bronze and silver tablewares, decorative objects and lighting fixtures, modelled in the prevailing Art Nouveau style and frequently exhibited at the Société des Artistes Français at the turn of the century (for examples of Truffier's work, see A. Duncan, The Paris Salons, 1895-1914, vol. V, pp. 521-5).