LACQUER FURNITURE

В. V. R. B.’s great speciality remained that of lac­quered furniture, particularly furniture decorated with panels of Japanese lacquer. This type of furniture was

Japanese lacquer. (В. V. R. B. was the only maker, with Joseph Baumhauer and D. F.. to have used Japa­nese lacquer at that time, but there is no proof that Joseph or D. F. worked for Hebert. Moreover, the lac­quer commodes by Joseph must be later in date, around 1750-60» while the two known commodes by D. F. in Japanese lacquer date from the years 1745-50.) It is therefore likely that В. V. R. B. produced most of the furniture in Japanese lacquer which was delivered to theGarde-Meuble Royal in the years between 1737 and 1745. Thus on 27 January 1744 the Garde-Meuble sent toM. Hebert, ‘marchand-bijoutier’:

A six-leaved screen. 6 pieds 7 pouces in height, in black Japanese lacquer decorated with landscapes, flowers, trees and birds, polychrome and gilt… to use the black lacquer on a large commode and the fronts and panels of a console table, both for the King’s Bedchamber at Choisy; to apply to a large bureau. 67* pieds in length, 3 pieds 2 pouces in depth, without drawers; and to veneer also the drawers and panels of two console tables with two encoignures for the Council Chamber at the Chateau de Choisy. [Arch. Nat. 0*3313.)

The results of this order are mysterious. It was not Hebert but Gaudreaus who supplied the lacquered furniture for Choisy in 1744: a commode, two encoig­nures and a bureau. To complicate matters further, it appears that the commode was actually Gaudreaus’ own work [121]. while the bureau, today in the Archives Nationales and reveneered, is obviously the work of В. V. R. B. What happened to the original order? Were the lacquer panels sent to Gaudreaus instead of Hebert? Had В. V. R. B. in the meantime made the lacquer consoles for Hebert? We do not know the answer, but the origin of the console in the Wrightsman Collection, the only known example in Japanese lacquer, lies perhaps at the heart of this mys-

tery 1186]. Hebert, in the following year, supplied another commode in Japanese lacquer for the Dau- phine at Versailles:

No. 1343) A commode in old Japanese lacquer on a black ground with pagodas, birds and animals of that country; a top of brocatelle marble, bombe and of serpentine shape, having at the front two large drawers fitted with locks and enriched on the front and sides with gilt-bronze mounts forming compartments, and corner-mounts with matching sabots. 5 pieds in length by 23 pouces in depth in the middle and 32 pouces in height.

This entry almost certainly refers to one of the six large commodes in Japanese lacquer by В. V. R. B. (that in the British Royal Collection (167], that in the Farman sale, that in the Fmbiricos Collection (184], the example in the Museum fiir Kunsthandwerk, Vienna, and the two commodes exhibited at the Oran – gerie des Tuileries in 1946). A seventh commode, today in the Quirinal, was made between 1748 and 1753 for Louis XV’s eldest daughter. Madame Infante. Duchess of Parma. In the time between this series of furniture dating from about 1745 and the commode delivered to Fontainebleau in 1737. the style of В. V. R. B.’s mounts had evolved considerably. The light decoration of 1737 comprising small stems, feathers and light floral scrolls had given way to a much richer style of large floral branches, rocaille work and cabbage-like motifs. Several small com­modes such as that in the Dijon Museum may argu­ably be placed in the period between these two dates, as well as the ones in the Caen Museum and the J. Paul Getty Museum, where the lacquer panels cover the entire front which is not divided, but framed in gilt – bronze ornamentation. It was at this point that certain gilt-bronze motifs characteristic of В. V. R. B.. such as the cruciform motifs at the corners of the panels, appeared.