1737-99; MASTER 1755


acques Dubois’ two sons, Louis (bom in 1732) and Rene (born in 1737), both qualified as master eb^nistes in 1755. The elder son was quick to change profession, becoming a master stove – modeller. He was also accepted as a member of the Academy of Saint-Luc.

On the death of Jacques Dubois the workshop was taken over by Rene who was twenty-six, under the nominal control of his mother Marie-Madeleine Brachet. On 4 October 1772 he married Barbe – Marguerite Anthiaume. daughter of the silversmith Jacques Anthiaume, who brought with her a dowry worth 10,000 livres. In July 1772 the widow Dubois relinquished nominal control of the workshop to Rene, selling him the existing stock for 25,002 livres.

The inventory taken at that point indicates a very prosperous business with about eighty pieces of furni­ture cither finished or unfinished: 28 secretaires (of which 3 were a abattant), 12 encoignures, 4 bookcases, 25 commodes. 10 bureaux, one chiffonniere, 2 stands, one toilet-table and various games-tables, ecritoires and screens. The most valuable pieces were a pair of bookcases at 1.800 livres and ‘two console-tables richly decorated in ebony, without gilding, valued together at 1,200 livres’. tables which have recently been identified (336). The production of lacquer furni­ture. of which Jacques Dubois had made a speciality, continued; the inventory mentions 12 lacquered pieces of furniture of which 7 were in imitation Chi­nese lacquer and 2 in Chinese lacquer. Of the veneered pieces. 7 were in ebony. 3 in amaranth. 4 in

/326/ Rene Dubois specialized in the production of painted furniture, such as this secretaire (stamped) in green lacquer decorated with landscapes in the

bois satine, one in tulipwood and amaranth, and one marquetry-table with flowers in kingwood. Two column-shaped encoignures mentioned in the inven­tory can be identified as those sold at auction in New York on 13 October 1983 (327), while ’two bureaux plats in the Antique taste’ surely correspond to a type perfected by Dubois and Montigny during those years (334). Dubois also sold second-hand furniture, as is confirmed by the mention of a bureau plat in amar­anth by Cressent priced at 6(X) livres.

As in the inventory of 1763, the workshop con­tained a large stock of bronze models and unfinished bronze mounts valued at 1,000 livres. The names of the bronziers are also given: the mounts were cast by Nicolas Franche (who was owed 315L), chased by the Rabut brothers (credit of 800L) and gilded in the workshop of the widow N<^1 (credit of 536L), a well – known atelier which carried out commissions for the Due de Pentl^vre and the Comte d’Artois. Other sums were owed by Dubois to various £benistes such as Ancellet (1.060L), Sar (204L), Ferdinand Bury (155L), Fromageau (86L), Severin (178L), Bon Durand (132L) and Petit (Nicolas Petit? 170L) whose work he sold.

Finally, the inventory mentions what is now con­sidered Rene Dubois’ speciality: furniture painted en camaieux in tones of beige on a green ground. Eight­een pieces of this type are described, some of which were decorated with ‘pictures’ or ’landscapes’. Some of these pieces were painted with scenes after Vernet as can be seen on the small commode at Waddesdon Manor or the secretaire к abattant (326). It is possible that Rene’s cousin, the painter Dubois, already men­tioned in the accounts of 1772 as being owed 214 livres. could have painted these camaieux. The pieces had high valuations:

2 more secretaires painted green with scenes on the panels valued at 1.200L

4 more secretaires en pente with square tapering feet, painted in green with various pictures 1.200L 2 cncoignures painted with landscapes on the doors, valued together 300L

2 commodes of 2 picds 6 pouces painted in green, valued together 400L

It is probable that Dubois was making these costly pieces of furniture for various marchands-merciers. The Waddesdon Manor commode, painted with landscapes after Vernet. is marked with the label of the shop ‘Ли Petit Dunkerque’, which was owned by Charles-Raymond Granchez. quai de Conti, on the corner of the rue Dauphine. In 1772 Granchez ad­vertised ‘secretaires in chinoiserie taste with painted scenes and mounts’ in L’Avant-Coureur, of a type which it is tempting to identify with the one in the Linsky Collection (332).

Rene Dubois also worked with his brother-in-law Jean Goyer. Their two stamps appear side by side on the huge secretaire-r£gulateur at Waddesdon Manor dating from about 1770 and which is reputed, without any proof, to have been ordered by (Catherine II of Russia. The mounts on this piece are monumental and the gilding alone cost 5.000 livres. Goyer, trained

as an ebeniste, specialized in the production of clock – cases. as had his father, and must have played an im­portant part in the making of the mounts for this piece of furniture. Before qualifying as an ebeniste he was apprenticed to the fondeur-ciseleur Jean-Joseph de Saint-Germain, and was accused in 1765 of being in breach of the guild regulations in employing a crafts­man to chase bronze mounts in his own workshop. The collaboration between Dubois and Goyer is recorded when the latter went bankrupt in 1776. Goyer stated at this time that Dubois had signed various guarantees against his debts for the sum of 11,410 livres ‘without receiving any surety, receipts or endorsements but merely to help Sr Goyer’. Goyer’s financial difficulties obviously rebounded on Dubois for in 1778 Dubois’ wife demanded a legal separation, fearing that her husband’s weak business manage­ment would dissipate her inheritance.

In 1779 Rene Dubois was mentioned in the Alma – nach genfral des marchands as ‘£l>eniste to the Queen’, although up until now no piece of furniture by Dubois has been identified as having belonged to the Queen. For a further length of time the workshop continued; then at the end of the 1780s Dubois moved to the rue Montmartre on the corner of rue Saint-Eustache and concentrated on selling furniture. His business was ruined by the Revolution and he died in poverty in 1799. having been supported in his last years by his wife.

Updated: October 9, 2015 — 9:32 am