R. V. L. G

ROGER VANDERCRUSE. KNOWN AS LACROIX. 1728-99: MASTER 1749

B

orn in 1728, son of an independent artisan – ebeniste in the Faubourg Saint-Antoine, Roger Vandercruse belonged to the most important dynasty of ebenistes of the eighteenth century. Of his five sisters, three married ebenistes: Frangoise-Mar – guerite married first Jean-Fran^ois Oeben and then Riesener; Marie-Marguerite married Simon Oeben, and Anne married Simon Guillaume. In 1750 Roger Vandercruse married the daughter of the ebeniste Jeanne Progain: their son Pierre Roger followed his father’s profession and became a master in 1772, while their daughter married Pierre-Etienne Levasseur, son of Etienne Levasseur, who, like his father, practised the art of Boulle marquetry. Finally, through his wife. Roger Vandercruse was related to the ebenistes Pierre Pioniez and Jean Marchand, both of them being her brothers-in-law. His name became gallicized as Lacroix or Delacroix, and he used the stamp ‘R. V. L. C.’ (Roger Vandercruse La-Croix).

In 1750, at the time of his marriage. Roger Van­dercruse was living with his parents in the Faubourg Saint-Antoine opposite the rue Saint-Nicolas, where he probably remained for the rest of his life. In 1755, not long before his father died, he took over his busi­ness. In 1799 the sale after his own death also took place in the ‘me du Faubourg Saint-Antoine. no. 52. near the rue Nicolas’.

At the time of his marriage the family business was still modest; he was apportioned 800 livres of linen

13011 R. V.L. C. aw one of the principal subcontractors of Joubert, ‘ebeniste de la couronne,’ during the 1770s. On this commode stamped R. V. L. C., which Joubert supplied in 1771 Idelivery no. 2636) for the

and cash and a fixed dowry of 600 livres. Shortly after his marriage, and even before becoming a master. Vandercruse supplied furniture to the marchand- ebeniste Pierre II Migeon. Migeon’s day-book has sur­vived and gives the prices, though no details, of the consignments by Vandercruse between 1751 and 1757: in 1751. 1.165L; in 1752, 1.296L; in 1753. 3.464L: in 1754. 2.781L; in 1755, 2.636L; in 1756. 3.352L; in 1757. 2.946L; and in 1758 up to 3 Septem­ber. the date of Migeon’s death. 2.539L. The consign­ments for 1758 consisted mainly of light pieces of furniture; two toilet-tables, two games-tables, five writing-tables, one dressing-table, one loom, and two encoignures. There was also a secretaire, a commode, a chiffonnier. two cabinets and a bookcase. The veneers used were for the most part of tulipwood, bois satine. amaranth and kingwood. R. V. L. C. then mainly used floral marquetry in kingwood and some­times geometric motifs described as ‘point de Hongrie’.

There is no doubt that Roger Vandercruse worked for his brother-in-law. Jean-Fran^ois Oeben. Striking similarities on numerous pieces of furniture suggest this, as well as the presence of R. V. L. C.’s name among Oeben’s creditors in the inventory after his death. Certain geometric motifs, overlapping circles, lozenges, or ‘interlaced hearts and lozenges’, are com­mon to the work of both ebenistes in the 1760s.

Between 1769 and 1774 R. V. L. C. supplied furni­ture to the Garde-Meuble Royal through Joubert. Numerous pieces of furniture delivered by Joubert to the royal family actually bore the stamp of R. V. L. C. as Joubert frequently subcontracted his commissions to him. Disregarding the stamp, certain pieces in this study have been attributed to Joubert and others to R. V. L. C. In fact, certain pieces with the stamp of

R. V. L. C. are not in his style while they correspond exactly to designs conceived by Joubert and complete suites of furniture supplied by the latter (this is the case with the commode in the Frick Collection and the secretaire sold by Christie’s on 19 March 1970, lot 100). Other pieces supplied by Joubert and stamped R. V. L. C. are absolutely in the latter’s style and are unmistakably Vandercruse’s work; this is the case with the two commodes made for the Comtesse de Pro­vence (301], and the commode of the Comtesse d’/r- tois (304]. Their design is made of three panels, either of floral marquetry or of ‘interlaced hearts and loz­enges’ on the front within gilt-bronze frames, gilt – bronze rosettes at the corners, and a gilt-bronze frieze of interlaced circles. The motifs on the apron (mask of Mercury) are found on numerous other pieces by R. V. L. C. and are characteristic of his work.

R. V. L. C. also worked for the marchand-mercier Poirier. Several small secretaires decorated with por­celain plaques (Metropolitan Museum: Kress Collec­tion) originated from his workshop as well as small tables, some of which may be dated to around 1760 (312), and are identical to examples by В. V. R. B. There are others in Neo-classical style with circular or oval tops which can be dated to about 1770 as well as those with torcheres with articulated candle-arms. Poirier had the monopoly of the use of porcelain plaques on furniture in the years 1760-75. Moreover, it is recorded that Poirier sold at least two pieces of furniture veneered with cornflowers, a technique typ­ical of R. V. L. C. One was ‘a comer cupboard veneered on a white ground with marquetry of blue mosaic and small cornflowers, richly garnished with gilt-bronze mounts. 380L’, sold to Mme du Barry on 4 September 1770; the other was ‘a secretaire with cor­ner cupboard at each side, veneered on a white ground with cornflowers and blue mosaic, 768L’. sold on 3 March 1777 to the Comte d’Artois, which may be compared to the example now at Waddesdon Manor [317].

R. V. L. C. also sold directly to private clients; in 1779 he supplied the Vicomte de Brcteuil with ‘an antique bureau in the manner of Boulle in tortoise­shell marquetry, with straight fluted legs…’ for 300L. Two years before, he had supplied him with an cncoignure. a bonheur-du-jour, a table and a com­mode which had been lacquered in imitation Chinese lacquer by Lemaire, and fitted with bronze mounts by

Ravrio. In this case it is interesting to note that the client had paid the ebeniste. the lacquerer and the bronzier separately.

R. V. L. C. was respected within his guild. He was made adjudicator between 1768 and 1770 and then syndic and deputy in 1784. His son Pierre-Roger, born in 1757. became a master in 1771. He moved to Ver­sailles and was employed by the Garde-Meuble Royal mainly in the maintenance and repair of furniture. It is possible that it was his son who used the stamp ‘R. Lacroix’. Thus, if one accepts that he would have supplied his father with furniture, it would explain the joint appearance of the two stamps ‘R. V. L. C.’ and ‘R. Lacroix’ on certain pieces, a phenomenon difficult otherwise to explain, unless one believed that Van – dercruse had changed his stamp ‘R. V. L. C.’ to ‘Lacroix’ during the course of his career. In 1787 and in 1788 Vandercruse, possibly with the help of his son. supplied the Garde-Meuble Royal with several pieces

I302J Oval tabic stamped marquetry centred by florets.

Lacroix, с. 1775 with trellis (Archives Galerie Aveline, Paris)

of mahogany furniture (see Appendix). These would seem to have been amongst his last commissioned work, as he retired in 1798, the same year in which his son died. In the meantime he retained all his ebeniste’s equipment, which was not sold until after his death on 19 Мду 1799.

R. V. L. C.’s work is stylistically homogeneous: the commodes are almost all of Transitional type, of rec­tangular form with central break-front and cabriole legs, the apron with a characteristic line of nine consecutive curves, and decorated with a head of Mercury. There are numerous examples of bonheurs – du-jour, some in chinoiserie taste with marquetry of small vases of flowers and various objects deriving from motifs on Chinese Coromandel lacquer screens: these motifs were perhaps Topino’s work – he sold panels of marquetry to his colleagues. The chinoiserie character is also accentuated by the brass gal-

13031 Oval table stamped Lacroix, с. 1780-85; probably commissioned by the dealer Daguerre, it is comparable to

various tables made by Carlin or Saunter who also worked for Daguerre. (Christie’s London, 9 December 1982. lot 49)

lery encircling the superstructure, the T-shaped fret­work being directly inspired by Chinese motifs. These bonheurs-du-jour could also be embellished with geo­metric marquetry.

Equally prolific was R. V. L. C.’s production of small tables in which he made use of the repetition of certain motifs: overlapping circles, chequered pat­terns enclosing florets, chequered patterns with car­nations (called ‘barbeaux’ – cornflowers – in the inven­tories of the period), overlapping lozenges, vertical yellow and green striations imitating straw marquetry, and twisted chequerwork representing metal lattice – work. For these tables R. V. L. C. developed a type of leg with double curve fitted at the level of the apron with a cross-piece, which is completely original.

In the 1770s R. V.L. C. frequently used light – coloured wood and citronnier as the ground for his marquetry work. By this means he created warm – coloured harmonies very similar to those on English furniture of the same period.

BIBLIOGRAPHY Arch. Nat. O’ 3646. O’ 3650

Arch. Nat. Min. Cent. LX/353: deed of distribution of the estate of Marie-Fran^oisc Dupuis, widow of Francois Vandercruse, 18 July 1764

Geoffrey dc Bellaiguc: biographical note on R. V. L. C. in cat. The James A. de Rothschild Collection at Waddesdon Manor, pp. 337-40. 484-88.882

Andre Boutemy: ‘Essai d’attribution de quelques mcubles anonymes a R. V. L. C. Bulletin de la Socitte de I’histoire de l’art fran^ais, 1966. pp. 155-67 Pierre Kjellberg: ‘R. V. L. С.’. Сопгшймпсе des arts. January 1967

APPENDIX

CONSIGNMENTS TO VERSAILLES. 1788 (ARCH. HAT. O’ 3646 (2)): NOTE BY LACROIX 23 November 1787 – no. 1 For M. Ic due d’Harcourt:

Л low armoirc 4 pieds by 9 pouces, 2 pieds wide, height іУ/і pouces. with 2 doors of which one is |xine! lcd in 2. with mirror, fluted feet, tn mahogany, with a shelf iruide, with gilded capitals and feet and white veined marble top 17 pouces thick and 3

German bra», bronze hinges, bronze escutcheons with 6 doors above and below; 12 coat-stands in mahogany with gilt-bronze hooks. Gilt rod and 9 hanging shelves. Interior mahogany coloured; the said armoire fitted with a mahogany plinth, the parquets roughly cut.. 2.520L

5 Slay – no. 5 Billiard-hall:

3 consoles in mahogany on columnar feet, the top also in wood pierced with holes to store billiard cues. 1 shelf below. Legs with gilt-bronze sabots, one with 2 drawers, of which one has a shelf fitted with inkwell, powder – box and sponge-box in silvered bronze… 534L
13041 (above left) Commode attributed to R. V. L. C., supplied by Joubert in 1773 (delivery no. 2718) for the bed-chamber of the Comtesse d‘Artois at Versailles.

(Floors Castle, Kelso, Scotland; Duke of Roxburgh’s collection)
(305J Commode stam/fed R. V. L. С., с. 1770; this maker made several such pieces with floral marquetry or marquetry of ‘interlaced hearts and lozenges’. (Formerly Wildcnstein Collection; sale Sotheby’s Monaco, 25 June 1979, lot 75)

R. V.L. C.

pair stamped R. V. L. C. urith the date 1757 and Poirier’s trade label; combining a form and mounts of pure rococo style with the cube marquetry made fashionable by the Oeben brothers. (Partridge (Fine Arts), pic, London)

(303] Secretaire a abattant stamped R. V. L. C., c. і 775; the marquetry on a satinwood ground with chinoiserie motifs inspired by Chinese lacquer screens. (Christie’s London, 29 June 1972, lot 49)
(309] Secretaire with tambour front, stamped R. V. L.C., с. 1760 with floral marquetry. (Mustc du Petit Palais. Paris)
1310] (right) Secretaire a abattant stamped R. V. L. C., с. 1780, veneered in geometric marquetry of trelliswork and florets on a tulipwood ground. (Archives Galerie Gismondi, Paris)

/Зі I/ Writing-table stamped Lacroix, c. 1765, with marquetry imitating trellisuwrk. ISotheby’s Monaco. 24 June 19X4, lot 31851

1314/ (right) Mechanical table stamped R. V.LC..C. 1770, doubling up as a writing-table and dressing-table. (Formerly in the Lurcy (Collection; sale Parke Hemet, New York, 19631
/312/ Table attributed to R. V. L.C., with a Sevres porcelain lop signed by Etienne – Henry Le Guay, с. 1760. The trelliswork pattern in the marquetry echoes the motifs on the tray. A comparable table
stamped R. V. L.C. is in the Music Nissim de Camondo.

(Formerly in the Alfred de Rothschild Collection; sale Christie’s London, 19 May 1925, lot 2951
/313/ (below left) Table with reading-stand stamped R. V. L. C., the marquetry with chinoiserie motifs. (Sotheby’s Monaco, 25)une 1979, lot 36) /315/ Writing-table, stamped R. V.LC..C. 1760. with marquetry of overlapping circles. (Sotheby’s Monaco, 25 June 1979, lot 65)

1316J Bonheur-du-jour, stamped Lacroix, с. 1785, with marquetry on a salinwood ground, tSotheby’s London, 25 June 1982, lot 171f

(317} Secretaire en cabinet stamped ІМСТОІХ and R. V. L. C., с. 1775, decorated with a porcelain plaque dated 1774. iWaddesdon Manor, Buckinghamsirel

I318J (below left) U-Viling – table stamped R. V. C., veneered to imitate straw marquetry in alternating bands of salinwood and green stained wood (Private collection)
13191 (below centre) Wntinj;- table, one of a pair stamped R. V.L. C..c. 1780. with marquetry on a salinwood ground. IChristie’s New York, 12 November 1981, lot 213)

Balthazar