A rare Louis XVI gilt bronze and porcelain plaque mounted mahogany cabinet a bijoux

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Lot 6328
A rare Louis XVI gilt bronze and porcelain plaque mounted mahogany cabinet a bijoux

US$ 150,000 - 200,000
£ 120,000 - 170,000
A rare Louis XVI gilt bronze and porcelain plaque mounted mahogany cabinet a bijoux
Circa 1778
Stamped M Carlin, JME

The square top with canted corners and coved edge mounted with gilt bronze entrelac banding centering an inset porcelain plaque with bleu celeste outer border, gilt inner border and painted with a loose arrangement of garden flowers including rose, convolvulus, lily and ranunculus, over a case inset on each side with smaller porcelain plaques within chased diagonal banded gilt bezel within a raised panel with beaded edge, the corners mounted with patera. Each plaque centering a trophy, the first, emblematic of strength and prudence, with a hissing snake entwined around a wooden club, a golden dressing mirror, spear and sword draped with a tasseled rope, embellished with berried laurel and floral sprays; the second trophy emblematic of love with a quiver of arrows with ribbon bandolier, winged flambeau, two arrows, floral wreath and berried laurel; the third musical trophy with a golden lyre, trumpet, palm frond, a score of open music, floral sprays and berried laurel; the fourth also a musical trophy of a cornemuse, recorder, walking stick and floral sprays.
Each coved corner with guilloche mounts; the cabinet door opening to three brass line inlaid drawers each centering a laurel wreath pull. The reverse of the cabinet door also with brass inlay. The paneled coffer base mounted with gilt bronze ribbon bound fluted banding, the corners mounted with paterae, raised on rectangular tapering legs mounted with delicate riband and bead banding headed by leaf tip collars, ending in tapering sabots on compressed spherules; stamped underneath the front rail M. Carlin JME (Jurande des Menuisiers-Ebenistes)
Height 29in (73.5cm); width 9½in (24cm); depth 9¼in (23.5cm); height of leg 17½in (45cm); diameter of top plaque 5½in (14cm); diameter of side plaques 3½in (9cm)


  • Martin Carlin, Ebeniste (1730-1785) maitre 1766

    Martin Carlin was born in Breisgau, Baden the son of a carpenter and settled in Paris prior to 1759. He married the ebeniste Oeben’s sister Marie-Catherine Oeben and the ceremony was witnessed by Jean-Francoise Oeben and Roger Vandercruse (Lacroix).

    By 1763 Carlin was established in the Grand rue du Faubourg Saint-Antoine, working principally for the noted marchand-merciers Simon Poirer and Dominque Daguerre, who specialized in furniture mounted with porcelain plaques. According to their account books and the Sèvres factory archives, Poirer and Daguerre purchased individual and sets of porcelain plaques from the mid-1760's through early 1780. Some plaques were intended for a specific piece of furniture already commissioned and others were for stock. In certain instances plaques were assembled from different production years for a single piece of furniture. Daguerre worked extensively for the Crown in his capacity as fournisseur ordinaire du Garde-Meuble, and was regarded with such confidence by Marie-Antoinette that he was entrusted with the safekeeping of some of her most valuable works of art on the eve of the Revolution in 1789. Daguerre supplied porcelain mounted furniture made by Carlin to the Duke of Sachsen-Teschen and the Empress Marie Feodorovna. Following the Treaty of Commerce between England and France in 1786, Daguerre’s clients included the Duke of Northumberland, Earl Spencer at Althorp and the Prince of Wales.

    Many of the known examples of these coffers do not have plaques on the back and were intended to stand against the wall. Others were mounted and finished on all sides, as with the offered lot, and were intended to be placed at either side of a dressing table to hold a selection of jewels complementing a single day’s attire. A larger and more secure cabinet would house the lady's entire jewel collection. A small number of related coffers are known, Parker and Dauterman (Decorative Art from the Samuel H. Kress Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, pp.129-130) note four jewel coffers that are described in 18th century documents, the earliest in a bill to Mme du Barry from Poirer dated December 13, 1770. This has been identified as the coffer in the Metropolitan’s collection. Another coffer/cabinet is listed in the Prince de Conde’s inventory of 1779; a third in the inventory of property seized from Comtesse de Provence from the Palais du Luxembourg in 1793. The fourth coffer was described in the sale catalog of the Duchesse de Mazarin’s property which took place in Paris, December 10-15, 1781 (Lot 259).

    Other examples of jewel coffers either stamped by Carlin or attributed to him include one in the Russian Imperial collection at the Palace of Pavlovsk, St. Petersburg, formerly the property of the Grand Duchess (later Czarina) Marie Feodorovna. Two examples formerly in the Hillingdon Collection of Sèvres porcelains and Sevres mounted furniture are now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art (gift of the Samuel H. Kress Foundation).

    Alma de Bretteville Spreckels (1881-1968), connoisseur and patron of the arts, was noted for her boldness, perseverance, luck and a generous nobility of spirit. Born in modest circumstances on a farm in San Francisco’s Sunset district, Alma de Bretteville reluctantly quit school at age 14 to work for her mother delivering laundry to the fine homes of the elite. She continued to educate herself enrolling in night classes at the Mark Hopkins Art Institute where she studied painting and fine art and paid her tuition in exchange for working as an artist’s model. Possessing wholesome beauty she was recruited to pose for local artists who painted tasteful if slightly risqué salon portraits. Her celebrity was assured when she modeled for the sculptor Robert Aktken’s bronze Triumphant Victory atop the granite monument installed at the center of Union Square in San Francisco honoring Admiral Dewey and the assassinated President William McKinley.

    Alma caught the eye of wealthy bachelor and heir to a sugar empire, Adolph Spreckels. They married, and built a Beaux Arts mansion where she hosted the city’s society elite elbow to elbow with bohemian artists. Traveling to Paris in 1914, the beautiful and wealthy Alma was attracted to artistic circles, becoming close friends with the modern dancer Loie Fuller and sculptor Auguste Rodin.

    In 1915 Alma was inspired to commission a new art museum for San Francisco, modeled after the Palais de la Légion d’Honneur, the California Palace of the Legion of Honor. Placing great art within reach of the public became Alma’s raison d’etre. She collected with a connoisseur’s eye for thirty-five years and generously gave her assembled collection of sculptures by Rodin, important French furniture and decorative arts of the 18th century, silver, and antiquities to the museum and established a foundation charged with directing the museum’s collections.

    The offered Carlin coffer was purchased in Paris in 1923 and descended in the family to its present owner.
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