DUBOIS

1694-1763; MASTER 1742

J

acques Dubois was born on 8 April 1694 in Pon – toise. He was related through his mother to an im­portant family of ebenistes. as Stephane Boiron has discovered. His mother, nee Marguerite Mon – tigny (great-aunt of Philippe-Claude Montigny), was the widow of Nicolas Gerard, by whom she had a son. Ыоё1 Gerard, one of the most important ebenistes and dealers between the years 1720 and 1730. It was there­fore most probably thanks to his half-brother, Ыоё! Gerard, that Dubois settled in Paris and adopted the craft of eb£niste. In 1730 he was already resident in Paris when he married Marie-Madeleine Brochet, with Noel Gerard a witness.

The considerable importance of Gerard’s workshop leads one to believe that Dubois must have worked there, unless he worked as an independent artisan in the Faubourg Saint-Antoine where he lived (in the rue de Charenton). selling his furniture to his half – brother. Whatever the case, Dubois did not become a master until very late in his career, in 1742, when he was forty-eight, by which time Gerard had been dead for six years. In 1752 he was elected adjudicator for his guild for two years. In 1763 he was chosen as expert on Jean-Franqois Oeben’s death. He was living in the rue de Charenton. op|>osite the Hotel des Mousquetaires – Noirs. He died very suddenly, at the height of his career, in the same year as Oeben.

The inventory after his death was drawn up by his fellow ebenistes Landrin and Coulon and reveals a

/146/ Commode, one of a pair, c. 1750, stamped both Dubois and Migeon tthe latter as retailer); floral marquetry in bou de bout on a bois saline ground.

(Private collection)

large workshop with twelve workbenches, describing about 127 pieces of furniture. The site comprised a store on the ground floor and a shop which served as a workshop. The production was extremely varied, con­sisting of bureaux (10 in number) among which were ‘4 small bureaux in ebonized wood’, secr£taires en pente (5). secretaires ‘en armoire’ (2). trictrac tables (8). pedestals (8), ecritoires (6). bidets (7), clocks (2). coffers, spittoons and so on. There were numerous (21) small tables for various uses (writing, en chiffon – niere, bedside-tables, a patins…); on the other hand there were few encoignures (6) or commodes (4). The brief descriptions make it impossible to identify speci­fic pieces of furniture. In the inventory there is little mention of the type of wood used, which suggests that most of the furniture was waiting to be veneered or lacquered. The few woods described are very diverse: *2 trictracs with stands in kingwood, tulipwood and amaranth with wooden draughts-boards. one in ivory and the other in ebony, undecorated, 240L or *2 secretaires en armoire in tulipwood and amaranth mounted with bronzes, without marble (top], 22L’, or ‘2 large bookcases in amaranth decorated with brass. 400L ‘one bureau in tulipwood and kingwood with its serre-papiers and cupboard underneath, with bronze mounts, 300L’; ‘2 small table "chiffonnieres";’ *2 toilet-tables in tulipwood, 200L’; ‘one commode 4 pieds long in tulipwood. with bronze mounts, without marble (top), 100L’.

The stocks of wood for veneering described at the end of the inventory are again very diverse and briefly itemized under the general title of’bois des Indes’:

1,544 livres weight of bois des Indes. 544L 3,949 livres weight of bois des Indes. 789L 272 livres weight of bois des Indes in sheets. 272L

Only oak and pine are mentioned as being used for the carcases of his furniture (‘244 planks of French oak, 446L…’. and ‘411 planks of pine’.)

As in Oeben’s workshop, mahogany was already in use: ‘one bureau 5’/i pieds in length in mahogany, undecorated. 801.’. and ‘3 secretaires partly completed in solid mahogany. 1501.’.

Finally, a number of sumptuous pieces of furniture are described, all in Chinese or Japanese lacquer: one bureau in Chinese lacquer with gilt-bronze mounts. 220L’ ‘one small secretaire in Japanese lacquer, priced 200L’, one commode 4Vj pieds in length in Chinese lacquer decorated "a grands cartels” (with large bronze mounts), 2 large encoignures also in Chinese lacquer “a cartels” (with mounts] priced 1,0001.’ (with 2 serre – papiers); ‘one bureau, almost completed, with mounts “a cartel en noir" (ungilt] and veneered with lacquer, one secretaire in Chinese lacquer with its bronze mounts, altogether 400L. Two clock-cases arc men­tioned. a sign that Dubois was also interested in this type of production, in which his son-in-law. Jean Coyer, would later specialize. One of them was valued so highly that it must in fact have been a long-case clock: ‘One case for a clock with second-hand in bois satine with floral veneer, with bronze mounts. 2401.’.

No indication is given as to the style of individual pieces of furniture, apart from a number of references to pieces a la grecque’: ‘one bureau 4‘/j pieds in length with lacquered wood executed a la grecque. without leather top. priced 721.’: ‘one commode a la grecque. priced (with other pieces] 67L’; one table in amaranth a la grecque. 601.’ At the end the inventory lists a very large stock of bronze mounts: ‘432 livres weight of bronze models, priced 10801.’. and ‘228 livres weight of unchased mounts’. Phis would indicate that Dubois was anxious to protect the exclusivity of his bronze models and stocked important quantities of bronze mounts unchased, kept in hand for use on his furni­ture and for supplying the chaser and gilder.

11481 Secretaire en pente stamped Dubois, in Japanese lacquer; a precious piece-probably made for a marchand-mercier. Mounts struck with crowned C, 1745-49. іSotheby’s New York, 6 May 1977. lot 176b)