JOSEPH, c. 1680-1718: MASTER 1717


he earliest record concerning Philippe Poitou is his marriage contract with Constance Boulle. the sister of Andre-Charles Boulle. on 23 May 1672. There Poitou is described as ‘menuisier en ebene. residing in the rue du Mouton in the parish of Saint-Jean-de-Greve. adult of more than thirty years, son of the late Jacques Poitou, gold and silver refiner in Paris, and of Catherine Lenormand’. The bride contributed a dowry of 1,000 livres in ‘ready money, furniture, linen and effects’. The couple soon settled close to the Boulle parents-in-law in the rue des Sept-Voyes in the parish of Saint-Ktienne-du-Mont. where they are recorded early in 1674. At this time both were employees of Andre-Charles Boulle. Under their contract they were required to work ‘on all mar­quetry and any other work which Boulle might assign to them’. Their annual salary was 300 livres each. These conditions included a starting time of seven in the morning for Poitou, and eight o’clock for his wife (seven o’clock in summer) and finishing at the ‘usual workers’ hour’. Constance Boulle died in 1676. The division of her effects dated November 1676 describes Poitou as ‘maitre menuisier en ebene’. He was living in the Faubourg Saint-Victor, in the Grand-Rue in a house at the sign of Saint-Jean. We do not know vvhether Poitou continued to work for Boulle during the following two years. Hovvever. in 1678 his career took a new turn. On 25 April 1678 he remarried. His second wife was Catherine Sommer, daughter of the ebeniste Jacques Sommer (d. 1669) and Renee Com- bort. It was not long before he began to collaborate with his mother-in-law and received commissions to furnish the royal residences. The first mention of his name appears in the accounts of the Batiments du Roi on 18 December 1678, where he is recorded together with his mother-in-law and one Combort. probably her brother. The following year the name of Combort had disappeared. There was now only Poitou, in part­nership with the widow Sommer, whose name in turn disappeared from the accounts by 1683. no doubt on her retirement.

For ten years, from 1678 onwards. Poitou worked for Louis XIV. engaged entirely in producing parquetry floors for the Louvre. Versailles and Fontainebleau. This parquetry almost always in­corporated metal, ebony and brass, or brass and pew­ter. or again copper and pewter (see under Appendix). The term ‘parquet’ had a wider generic meaning in the seventeenth century than it has today, and could apply to low or tall vertical wainscot panels as well as to floors. In many cases, moreover, the accounts specify ‘estrades de marqueterie’ (platforms in marquetry) and ‘parquets de marqueterie’. The term ‘parquets’ here could therefore just as well have applied to panelling for an alcove or a dado (such as those pre­served in a circular closet in the Chateau de Maisons – Laffitte). While this work was in progress Poitou certainly had an atelier at the Gobelins, close to his home in the Faubourg Saint-Victor. A certificate drawn up in 1720 by the Due d’Antin in favour of a certain Charles Sommer, perhaps a nephew of Poitou, indicates that the latter had worked in his trade of menuisier. ebeniste and marqueteur for ten years, six as an apprentice and four a journeyman in the service of the King at the Gobelins manufactory, under the supervision and discipline of Philippe Poitou, maitre menuisier. ebeniste and marqueteur’ (Arch. Nat. O’1087).

After 1687 Poitou’s name disappears from the ac­counts of the Batiments. He then worked for the Due d’Orleans; in 1707, at the burial of his mother-in-law. he is recorded as ebeniste de Mgr le due d’Orleans’.


Подпись: 11 February 1080: to Phili|>po Poitou ami the widow Somer. ebenistes, for 3 parquet panels with ebony and brass marquetry made for the Louvre I.050L 28 July-27 October: to Poitou. elx;mste. for a wooden marquety dais for the Queens Bedchamber in the State Apartments (at Versailles! 2.100L 27 April 1081: to Poitou, ebtfniste. final payment of 5.855L for the marquetry dais made for the Queen's Bedchamlx-r 3.755L 30 October: to the same for polishing the brass and pewter dais in the Queen's Bedchamber 70L 14 December: to the same for work on the marquetry in the King's Bedchamber (at Versailles) 4001. 9 March 1082: to Poitou. Подпись:

Poitou also worked for Louvois or his son. In 1709 he rented a room in the Louvois house, rue de Richelieu, and owed ‘Mme de l-ouvois 110 livres. deduction to be made for various works made for her’. The inven­tory drawn up after Poitou’s death, on 23 May 1709. indicates a surprising poverty. The debts of 1.862 livres (together with 350 livres of receipts for work commenced) were balanced only by 200 livres in cre­dit. which his widow doubted could be recovered, and goods valued at 150 livres. The only piece of furniture in stock was ‘a commode in marquetery in contrepar – tie. unfinished’. This confirms that Poitou did not limit his output to floors. The workshop in the rue des Petits-Peres where Poitou died contained four work­benches. three with their tools, three sheets of copper engraved for the use of the ebeniste and weighing approximately 25 livres. and two pine boxes full of ebenistes professional bronze models weighing 35 livres. In the annexe to the Louvois house were ’30 engraved sheets of pewter weighing 40 livres’, without doubt components of the panels designed for the Hotel Louvois.

To date there is no furniture that can be attributed to Poitou, nor any floor made for the royal residences extant since they were probably cut up in the eight­eenth century and reused to form panels on armoires, buffets or tables. One can only assume that after sev­eral years* collaboration between Poitou and Boulle, the style of their marquetry must have been fairly similar.


EXCERPT FROM ПІЕ AOOOUNTS OF HIE BATIMENTS DU R<H H’BI ISIIEI» BY GUIFFREY RELATING TO FUI1.IPFE POITOU IS December 1078: to Poitou, tlomliord arxl the widow Somer. ebenistes. for 3 parquet |>ancls in ebony for the Louvre 1.050L 20 July 1078: Somcr and Poitou for 3 parquet panels with brass marquetry as made by them. 1,0501.

23 July-10 December 1079: to the widow Somer and Philippe Poitou, ebenistes. for 6 parquet panels in ebony ami marquetry for the Louvre. 2.100L 23 /pnl-25 September: to the widow Somer and Poitou, ebenistes for 6 parquet panels of ebony ami brass marquetry, each 3 pieds square. 2.I00L
the aforesaid Poitou, ebeniste. final payment for parquet with copper and pewter compartments made by him for the alcove in the Queen’s BcdchamlxT at Fontainebleau. 2.390L

10 March-10 June 1086: to the aforesaid Poitou, marqueteur. and denn. engraver, complete payment of9.685L for the parquet mark* by them, engraved and positioned in the Cabinet de ( Airiositcs and the Blue (‘hamber at the Chateau de Versailles I December 1080: to Poitou, for having restored and (xilishcd the {Nirqucts in marquetry in the ( ’.abinets of the King, Monseigneur. and tlx* dais in the I )auphinc‘s Bcsk’hamber 157L 9 Noiember 1687: to Poitou, ebeniste. for repairs mark* by him to the marquetry parquets in the King’s Cabinet and the dais in the Dauphinc’s Betk-hamlx*r 351L

24 Augiut 1087 (‘works in ebony’): to Poitou. »?bcniste. for repairs to the parquet of the dais in the State Berkhamber in the Queen Mother’s apartments at Fontainebleau. 501.