1723-82. MASTER 1745; M ARCH AND – ЁВЁМЭТЕ
ierre was the son of a journeyman ebeniste, Michel Roussel and of Barbe Dulin. His three brothers. Jacques. Michel and Louis, all became menuisiers. At the age of twenty Pierre Roussel married Marie-Antoinette Fontaine and became a master two years later. He settled in the Faubourg Saint-Antoine, in the rue de Charenton opposite the rue Saint-Nicolas in a house with a shop at the sign of ‘L’lmage de Saint Pierre’. During the 1760s his career prospered, and he held various high offices within the guild: in 1762 he was elected adjudicator, followed by deputy in 1777. assistant syndic in 1779 and syndic in 1780. According to Salverte. at the time that Roussel was chosen to arbitrate in 1767 during the course of litigation between two of his fellow ebenistes. he was considered one of the finest ebenistes of his period. Between 1775 and 1780 he worked for the Prince de Gonde whom he supplied with 10,000 livres’ worth of furniture.
He died suddenly at the age of fifty-nine. The inventory taken in March 1783 after his death, with the help of the ebenistes Leleu and Cochois, is particularly interesting as it reveals the contents of a workshop in full production. The building housed three workshops with seven work-benches as well as a storeroom and a shop. The very large stock comprised nearly 250 articles. 50 commodes, of which some were ’rectangular’ and others circular’, estimated at between 50 and 560 livres each for the more lavish examples. as well as commodes ‘en tombeaux’ and ‘en console’. The other pieces described consisted of /1981 Secretaire a abattant stamped Roussel, c. 1 775-80; Roussel probably subcontracted the marquetry panels to Gilbert. (Galerie Perrin, Paris}
encoignures. dining-tables, ‘tables Ъ I’anglaise’ and a la dauphine’. oval tables, dressing-tables or night – tables. chiffonnieres and games-tables. The most valuable piece was a bureau with its cartonnier, priced at 720 livres. Most of the furniture was in tulipwood marquetry, bois saline or amaranth, several with starshaped veneer, others in mahogany. Many pieces were in lacquer, some in ‘red lacquer’, others in ‘imitation lacquer’ or ‘vernis moderne’. There were also examples in geometric marquetry or parquetry (cube or ‘mosaic’) as well as floral motifs and landscapes. The mention of numerous marble tops in the workshop confirms that the furniture was destined for sale in Roussel’s shop, and not through another mar – chand-ebeniste. At the end. the inventory mentions, among the names of the creditors, that of the master menuisier Rosier, who no doubt made the carcases of Roussel’s furniture, as well as the names of the bron- ziers Turchin (for 482L), Ravrio (for 2(X)L) and the gilder Trufot (for 900L).
On Pierre Roussel’s death his widow continued his business, helped by her sons Pierre-Michel (master in 1766) and Pierre ‘the Younger’ (master in 1771) for an unknown length of time (but at the latest until 1792). The output of the workshop at that date still bore Pierre Roussel’s stamp, which had been kept by his widow. These consisted of pieces in mahogany of fine craftsmanship. Roussel’s workshop also supplied furniture to the Garde Meuble Royal, delivering a mahogany bureau in 1787 for 360 livres. made for the library of the Comtesse de Provence at Versailles. At the same time the workshop was also supplying various pieces of furniture to the Dowager Duchesse d’Arenberg for her hotel in the rue de la Ville – L’Eveque.
Probate inventory after Pierre Roussel’s death, 12 March 1783 (Arch. Nat., Min. Cent. LXIX. 768)
Geoffrey de Bellaigue: note on Roussel in cat. The James A. de Rothschild Collection at Waddesdon Manor, vol. II. pp. 879-80
F. de Salvcrtc: Les fcUnistes, pp. 291-92
/200/ (above) Commode stamped Roussel, c. і 750, in tulipuood (Sotheby’s. 25 June 1983. lot 661
/201/ Commode stamped Roussel, с. 1760, in Chinese lacquer. (Sotheby’s Monaco, 23 June 1985, lot 8231