LATZ

c. 1691-1754; ACTIVE 1719-54; EBENISTE PRIVILEGE DU ROI BEFORE 1741

N

ow recognized as one of the great ebenistes working in the Louis XV style. Jean-Pierre Latz is one of the most spectacular dis­coveries made in the last twenty years by Henry Hawley.

Borne. 1691 near Cologne. Jean-Pierre Latz settled in Paris from 1719 as an ebeniste. In 1736 he became naturalized and in 1739 married Marie-Madeleine Seignet. daughter of a prosperous property-developer. His wife’s dowry of 10,000 livres and her relations (the Abbess of Saint-Antoine. Marie-Gabrielle de Bour – bon-Oonde and Sister Anne de Rohan, another abbess, both attended the marriage as witnesses) must have helped Latz to make his way. Before 1741 he obtained the warrant of ebeniste privilegie du roy’ which enabled him to excercise his profession freely without liecoming master. The couple settled into a house at the sign of the Saint-Esprit in the rue du Fau- bourg-Saint-Antoine opposite the Foundling Asylum. This comprised their living quarters and workshop, where the family remained until 1756. the date of the death of Latz’s widow. From 1739, and apparently until 1754, his principal assistant was his nephew Jean-Pierre Tillmans. On Latz’s death in 1754. the workshop was maintained by his widow who also kept the warrant of ebeniste privilegie granted to her hus­band until her own death in 1756 (after which it passed to Pierre Macret in 1757). As their only child was a girl of eleven, the workshop was closed.

The inventory drawn up a short time after Latz’s

1125J Secretaire en pente tutipwood encoignures attributed

stamped luitz, c. J 750, with to Latz (but stamped by Roussel

floral marquetry on a bois saline as retailer>. (Private collection I ground; and one of a pair of death in 1754 by Cressent and Joubert, and particu­larly the more detailed one drawn up in 1756 after the death of his widow by the ebenistes В. V. R. B. and Dubois, gives an accurate picture of the workshop’s production. All these documents indicate clearly that the production of clock-cases constituted the main ac­tivity of the workshop. In 1754. 170 clock-cases were itemized, of which 100 incomplete models were out of fashion, while in 1756 there were no more than 92. At the same time the 1754 inventory lists 48 pieces of fur­niture other than clocks, while the 1756 one lists 33 pieces. In both cases, therefore, the production of clocks represents approximately three times that of other furniture. The greater part of the clocks de­scribed were wall clocks with their brackets, but some were also on a square tapering base (‘no. 48: 2 clock – cases, each mounted on its pedestal inlaid with mar­quetry of bronze, tortoiseshell and mother-of-pearl’). The veneers listed were almost always of Boulle mar­quetry of which Latz would seem to have made a spe­ciality. although there are instances of veneering in kingwood and also floral marquetry. The 1756 inven­tory also itemizes pieces carried out entirely in bronze (‘no. 45: 2 clocks and their pedestals, all in bronze’). Latz was in fact producing bronze mounts in his own workshop to decorate his furniture, contravening the rules of the guild.

In 1749 various ornaments in unchased bronze, bronze models and tools proving that Latz was casting and chasing gilt-bronze mounts designed for his own clocks and furniture on the premises, were seized from his workshop at the instigation of the bronze-casters’ guild. The written report of the seizure, which enu­merates no less than 2.288 models and bronze parts, confirms that Latz reserved the exclusive use of his models. It is difficult to tell whether he

/126/ Clock and its stand attributed to Latz, с. 1740-45, with marquetry in tortoiseshell, mother-of-pearl and stained horn on a brass ground. Originally
owned by the Elector of Saxony at Dresden, this clock has a pair, now in Schloss Moritzburg.

ISotheby’s Monaco, 14 June 1981, lot 571
1127] Long<ase clock signed Latz with tortoiseshell and brass marquetry, the mounts struck
with crowned “С 11745-49). iCleveland Museum of Art, John R. Severance Fund)

/128/ Clock and its stand attributed to Lalz, с. 1740. with mother-of-pearl and stained horn marquetry on a ground of brass. Two identical clocks are in Schloss Moritzburg, Dresden, and a third at Charlottenburg, Berlin. (Sotheby’s Nrw York, 17 November 1984. lot 175)

continued to cast on the premises after this incident or not. In the 1754 inventory the experts Cressent and Jacques Confesseur list, besides the presence of three work-benches for chasing. 63 bronze statuettes ‘serv­ing as models for decorating clocks, bureaux, serre – papiers and other pieces of furniture’, valued at 940 livres, as well as 2,424 livres weight of cast-bronze mounts used as models, and overcasts… to serve as decoration for clocks, commodes, encoignures. secre­taires and other ebenisterie valued at 3.636L’. One of the clock models is even described: ‘One palm tree clock also of metal and bronze used as a model…’ (In 1756 the description is now updated: ‘One palm tree in bronze about 6 pieds in height made to take a sprung clock.) The inventory also lists the amounts owed to different bronziers. the casters Chibou (72L), Javois (60L) and Vidi (762L), the chasers Boulle (Pierre Boulle? 9L). Defforges (42L and 61L to his brother-in-law). Deon (61L). Gavie (60L), Fennetaux (20L), Lefevre (160L), Malassis (60L). Piault (58L). Salter (60L). the gilders Barthelemy /utin (nearly 6.(XX)L) and Gobert (300L). The disparity of these debts shows that at that time Latz had to obtain, at least’ in part, his bronze mounts from outside his workshop. In any case it is clear that he held the exclu­sive rights to his models up until 1749; on the basis of the mounts, therefore, a quantity of unstamped pieces may be attributed to him. Up until now only three long-case clocks stamped by him have been recorded (one in the Cleveland Museum of Art. one belonging to Prince Louis-Ferdinand of Prussia at Charlotten – burg, and the third at Waddesdon Manor).

In his catalogue Henry Hawley makes twenty further attributions. At the last count there were six recorded commodes stamped by Latz. while Henry Hawley attributes to Latz at least a further twelve, of very differing types. In the case of the encoignures produced by Latz. the group is stylistically very homo­geneous. with characteristics repeated on all of them (very ЬотЬё in shape, two hinged doors with an apron forming a third foot in the front). Apart from the two pairs of stamped encoignures (one formerly in the Wildenstein Collection (130). the other formerly in the Burat Collection). Hawley attributes eight further pairs to Latz. No bureau plat stamped by’ Latz is recorded but eight examples can be convincingly attri­buted to him (for instance, the desk of Frederick II of Prussia now at Potsdam). This unorthodox method of

(130/ Pair of encoignures stamped ImIz with the mark of Chateau d’Eu, with marquetry of

bois de bout. (Sotheby’s Monaco, 25 June 1979, lot 44)

attribution based on the similarity of mounts has led to very plausible results and the delineation of a homogeneous oeuvre which was very different from that of other ebenistes.