JOSEPH’S STYLE

Joseph’s style evolved from sober rococo in the 1750s to an academic Neo-classicism in the 1770s. following a similar course to that of the В. V. R. B. workshop. The earliest pieces date from about 1749: the lacquer encoignures in the National Gallery. Washington, and the Kotschoubey bureau. The lines of his furni­ture are sinuous, generous and perfectly symmetrical. On the series of lacquer or marquetry commodes dat­ing from 1750-60 the vigorous gilt-bronze mounts are composed of broad mouldings around which curl luxuriant flower sprays. These mounts are stylistically comparable with the famous wall lights that Framjois- Thomas Germain made in 1756 for the Palais-Royal, where foliate motifs are treated in a richer and more naturalistic manner than before.

The marquetry’ panels from this period are com­posed of kingwrxxl floral sprays, cut in bois de bout on a tulipwood ground. The floral sprays are very luxur­iant and cover most of the surface. On later furniture made in the 1760s the forms become more restrained: the lacquer or porcelain-mounted bureaux plats are designed with softer curves. The mounts are now sim­pler and consist merely of a foliate border which fol-

/240] Commode in Japanese lacquer, stamped Joseph, sold for 4,0001. tn 1760 by the marchand-merder Poirier to the Marquis de Marigny, enthusiastic supporter of the Neo­classical movement, friend and patron of Soufflot and Cochin.

1241, 2421 Pair of encoignures and commode with doors stamped Joseph, sold through Poirier to the

Marquis de Brunoy before 1775, the year in which the latter’s collection was seized by his

1243J Commode with doors in Japanese lacquer, stamped Joseph, c. 1770, originally together with a pair of matching encoignures, in the Collection of the Duchesse de Mazarin, sold in 1781 (lots 218-219>. Acquired in 1825 by George IV, it was then altered; the central porcelain plaque originally decorating the piece was replaced by a lacquer panel. (British Royal Collection I

1244f їмо bookcase stamped Joseph, c. 1770-75, made for the marchand-meraer Julhot before 1777; it then belonged to Vaudreuil and appeared in his sale in 1787. (Alexander and Berendt Ltd. LondonI

12451 Ebony centre table, stamped Joseph, c. 1 770; the frieze of Vi(rufi<m scrolls was one of Joseph’s favourite motifs. iGalerie Levy. Paris)

12461 Bureau plat and cartonnier in ebony, attributed to Joseph, owned by Lord Malmesbury who bought it in 1796. Two bureaux of this type arc described in the inventory drawn up after Joseph’s death in 1772. (Sotheby’s Monaco. 14 June 1981, lot 144)

lows the contours with small comer-mounts at the corners and salx>ts en chaussons similar to those found on furniture of the same period by Oeben. Simple mouldings frame the drawers. Л flat gilt – bronze band covers the fronts of the legs, a detail characteristic of Joseph’s furniture but found nowhere else. Then, around 1765. he adopted the Neo-classical style, applying it not only to straight outlines but also to the bronze mounts: a good example is the Marigny commode (1766) with its Vitruvian scrolls, lion’s mask, laurel garlands bound with ribbon, or the Blon – del de Gagny cabinets (datable before 1766) with their Greek key pattern friezes. On the series of secretaires & abattant dating from these years (Louvre: Grog Be­quest. and two others in a private collection) the rig­orous Neo-classical vocabulary is tempered with garlands of flowers. Floral marquetry is replaced by plain veneer of bois satinc with horizontal grain very characteristic of Joseph. This technique can be found on all the secretaires dating from this period, as well as on a series of low cabinets [250]. all decorated with the same Greek key-pattern frieze.