An important French 18th century Louis XV ormolu-mounted vernis Martin and Japanese lacquer Grand secrétaire en dos d'âne in the manner of Jacques Dubois, circa 1745, partially embellished by Beurdeley in the 19th century
Lot 99
An important French 18th century Louis XV ormolu-mounted vernis Martin and Japanese lacquer Grand secrétaire en dos d'âne in the manner of Jacques Dubois, circa 1745, partially embellished by Beurdeley in the 19th century
Sold for £55,250 (US$ 92,769) inc. premium
Lot Details
An important French 18th century Louis XV ormolu-mounted vernis Martin and Japanese lacquer Grand secrétaire en dos d'âne
in the manner of Jacques Dubois, circa 1745, partially embellished by Beurdeley in the 19th century
decorated overall with landscapes, figures, birds, flowers and foliage and framed with foliate mounts, the shaped rectangular top above a hinged fall-front centred by an oval medallion depicting Hotei, God of happiness, with his treasure sack and two boys, within a scrolling foliate surround, flanked to each sides by cockerels and foliage, the interior with a gilt-tooled brown leather writing surface, the interior decorated with figures, landscapes and foliage, fitted with a central niche of nine drawers and a cupboard door enclosing three small drawers and a further secret compartment, flanked to each side by a pigeon hole above a drawer, the shaped sides with landscape panels within similar surrounds, the angles with foliate clasps, the kneehole surmounted by a simulated drawer, flanked to each side by a small drawer and a deep cupboard door, the back decorated with further lacquer panels, the central oval medallion depicting flying ducks in a landscape, within a foliate gilt-bronze surround, flanked to each side by flowers, on cabriole legs with pierced scrolling acanthus-cast sabots, each stamped with a 'C'- couronné poinçon; one drawer with old paper label inscribed LEILOES/ Soares & Mendonca. Limitada/ LISBOA/ 66 and with metal plaque to the underside of the carcass inscribed BPSM - Patrimonia No. 026391, 120cm wide, 60cm deep, 110cm high (47" wide, 23.5" deep, 43" high).

Footnotes

  • Provenance:
    - An important Portuguese private collection
    - With Beurdeley in Paris in the second half of the 19th century

    The crowned "C" mark on some of the mounts allow to date the present lot circa 1745-1749.

    A group of five grands secrétaires en dos d'âne, decorated with vernis Martin and/ or Japanese lacquer, all executed between 1745-1750 by Jacques Dubois (1694-1763) have been described and analysed by Thibaut Wolvesperges in his seminal work on French 18th century lacquer furniture.
    These secrétaires are comparable to the present example for several reasons. They are similar in size (around 110-120cm in width) and also have a lower structure with a cupboard door to each side. Nevertheless, we can note that each door is surmounted by a small drawer and the kneehole is more pronounced on the present lot.
    As for the comparable examples, in order to be decorated, the carcass of this secrétaire consists mainly of straight panels, the serpentine effect being given by the corners with clasps, the cabriole legs and the shape of the abattant.
    As visible to the floral panel above the kneehole, we can assume that the lacquer and vernis panels originally had gilded borders as on the Jacques Dubois secrétaire, illustrated by Wolvesperges p.289.

    An old photograph of the present piece in situ in the Beurdeley shop, can be found in the Beurdeleys' workshop archives. Therefore we can assume that this secrétaire had been restored and embellished by Louis Auguste Alfred Beurdeley and his son in the second half of the 19th century. The profusion of the ormolu decoration, notably to the centre of the abattant, the kneehole and the back of the secrétaire, is likely to be incorporating gilt bronze mounts made in the Beurdeley workshop.

    In the sale catalogue of the second Beurdeley sale, 27 mai- 1er juin 1895, a description could correspond to the present lot under lot no 561: "Bureau à dos d'âne avec abattant surmountant des tiroirs en laque à reliefs dorés sur fond noir. Il est enrichi de nombreux bronzes ciselés et dorés de style Louis XV". It was bought at the sale for "1410 francs" by the leading expert Charles Mannheim who was also working as an advisor for the Rothschilds at the time.

    The dealership founded in the early 19th century by Jean Beurdeley and developed by his son Louis Auguste Alfred (1808-1883), was by the 1850s one of the most successful antique dealers in Paris, which counted the 4th Marquess of Hertford, the Empress Eugénie and the Rothschilds among their customers. From 1838, the shop was located at the Pavillon de Hanovre on the Boulevard des Italiens where paintings by old masters such as Chardin, Boucher and Fragonard, as well as porcelain, 17th and 18th century bronzes and French furniture were on offer. Lionel de Rothschild wrote in 1864 to his son Leopold: "Mamma has only been to see the Beurdeley Curiosities (...) but the high prices frighten everybody." Starting with a small workshop, most probably firstly devoted to restoration work, Louis Auguste Alfred decided to create and make furniture himself and developed the workshop that was later taken over by Emmanuel Alfred, his son, in 1875. The business was closed in 1895 and no less than 20 auctions had to be held to disperse its stock. After he retired, Emmanuel Alfred's reputation as a collector grew, notably for 18th century French ornemental drawings.

    Literature:
    - Thibaut Wolvesperges, Le meuble français en laque du XVIIIe siècle, Les éditions de l'amateur/ Racine, 2000.
    - Camille Mestdagh, L'ameublement d'art français (1850-1900), avec la collaboration de Pierre Lecoules, Les éditions de l'amateur, 2010.
Activities
Contacts
  1. Fine Furniture (UK)
    Auction Administration - European Furniture and Works of Art
    Bonhams
    Work
  2. Jackie Brown
    Auction Administration - European Furniture and Works of Art
    Bonhams
    Work
    101 New Bond Street
    London, W1S 1SR
    United Kingdom
    Work +44 20 7468 8204
    FaxFax: +44 20 7468 8208
  3. Francois Le Brun
    Specialist - European Furniture and Works of Art
    Bonhams
    Work
    101 New Bond Street
    London, W1S 1SR
    United Kingdom
    Work +44 20 7468 8251
    FaxFax: +44 20 7468 8208
  4. Camille Mestdagh
    Specialist - European Furniture and Works of Art
    Bonhams
    Work
    101 New Bond Street
    London, W1S 1SR
    United Kingdom
    Work +44 20 7468 8234
    FaxFax: +44 20 8963 2807