SAUNIER

1735-1807; MAS TER 1752

B

orn into a family of ebenistes established in the rue du Faubourg Saint-Antoine. Saunier obtained his mastership very early but did not register it until 1765 when he took over the family workshop in which he had previously been working. He kept this workshop in the rue du Faubourg Saint – Antoine opposite the rue Saint-Nicolas at least until 1799. producing luxury furniture, all in Neo-classical taste. These veneered pieces are marked by their so­briety of line and the beauty of their wood, mainly tulipwood applied in large sheets in horizontal strips. Between 1765 and 1775 Saunier frequently produced a type of transitional commode with rectangular shape and lightly curved legs using tulipwood with a wide horizontal grain. He used fashionable woods such as ebony and mahogany as well as satinwood from 1785 onwards. On all these pieces the wood is arranged to form contrasting colours; tulipwood and ebony or satinwood and amaranth. He produced bureaux plats of simple form, the architectural details of which were emphasized by square tapering legs and the presence of gilt-bronze triglyphs between the drawers. From 1785 to 1790 Saunier perfected a type of bonheur-du – jour in satinwood with a stand fitted with glazed doors of which the lower part forms a console-desserte with rounded corners [439).

1433j Commxie ‘a I’anglaisc’ in Japanese lacquer, attributed to Saunier. с. 1780. Pierre Verlet illustrates an identical commode in Ia’s Meubles frarxjais du XV! lie siccle./ig. 99, starn/H’d

Certain rare pieces exist which are stamped by Sau­nier and decorated with Sevres porcelain plaques. In the Wildenstein Collection, for example, there was a small table from the Chateau de Bellevue dating from 1786. Here is proof that Saunier must have worked for the marchand Daguerre, who had the monopoly of the supply of porcelain plaques from Sevres. Collab­oration between Saunier and Daguerre is further indi­cated by the existence of several pieces signed by

14341 F. ncoignure, one of a pan in Japanese lacquer matching the commode shown at /433/. (Archives Galerie Aieline, Paris)

Saunier at Althorp in the Spencer Collection, which Daguerre supplied in about 1790. Finally, various pieces in citronnier supplied by Daguerre in 1786-87 to the Garde-Mcuble Royal seem to be identifiable with works by Saunier. such as the two bonheurs-du – jour in bois jaune (also called ‘noyer de la Guade­loupe’), one delivered to the Queen at Choisy in 1786 for 648 livres (Arch. Nat. 0‘3646) and the second in March 1787 for the Duchesse d’Harcourt, wife of the Master of the Dauphin’s Household at Versailles, for 624 livres (Arch. Nat. 0*3641) together with a com­plete suite of furniture in bois jaune (also probably his work, unless it is by R. V.L. C. or possibly by Weis – weiler, further suppliers of Daguerre). One piece of furniture in bois jaune from this series which it is poss­
ible to identify today is the secretaire a abattant sold at Sotheby’s London on 12 November 1965, lot 41 [440). This secretaire, stamped by Saunier. also bears the ink mark of the Chateau de Versailles and corresponds to the secretaire en armoire. 3 pieds in length, in noyer de la Guadeloupe’ supplied on 10 March 1787 to the Due d’Harcourt at Versailles for 672L.

Saunier was also the maker of numerous pieces in lacquer, some Chinese or more rarely Japanese, and some in tolework imitating Japanese lacquer. This technique, perfected by Samousseau in about 1767, sought no doubt to circumvent the problems of Euro­pean lacquer on wood which was easily damaged. However, as metal is even more susceptible than wood to the rapid contractions and expansions caused by

temperature change, the result is that these tole-work panels are covered in innumerable small cracks. The best-known examples arc the commode a I’anglaise in the Biron Collection [441] and a cylinder bureau for­merly at Mentmore [445]. Saunier’s career con­tinued into the Directoire – he is recorded in the almanacs until 1799. He retired to the rue Saint – Claude and died in 1807.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

F. de Salvertc: Les Ebenistes, pp. 297-98

Pierre Kjellberg: ‘Saunier’. Conruiissance des Arts, March

1969, pp. 78-82

Peter Thornton and John Hardy: The Spencer furniture at Althorp’, Apollo, no. 88. October 1968.274-77

/4391 Saunier made a series of bonheurs-du-jour in satimvood identical to this example, with shutters, mirrored or glazed, all c. і 786. (Caloric Liipu, ParisI

І440І Secretaire in satinwood stamped Saunier; bearing the mark of the Chateau dc Versailles; it tallies with a delivery by Daguerre on 10

March 1787for the Due d’Harcourt, who was in charge of the Dauphin’s education. (Sotheby’s London, 12 Nmrmbcr 1965, lot 41/
[441J (below) Commode a I’anglaise stamped Saunier: in lacquered idle. (Formerly in the Biron Collection; Archives Galcrie Airline, Paris)

/•М2/ Commode in Japanese lacquer, one of a pair stamped Saunier; a similar one is in the Nymphenburg Palace, Munich.

IArchives Galerie Airline. Paris I
(4431 Saunier often repeated this type of commode veneered in horizontal strips of tulipwood; this example is stamped.

I Sotheby’s Monaco, 14 June 1981. lot 1261
14441 (Mow left) Table stamped Saunier, bearing the mark of the Chateau dc Bellevue; the porcelain plaque is dated 1786.1Sotheby’s Monaco, 25 June 1979, lot 171)
14451 (below) A number of pieces of furniture by Saunier are thus panelled in tole lacquered in imitation of Japanese lacquer according to a technique perfected by Samousseau m 1767. (Formerly in the Earl of Rosebery’s collection; Sotheby’s London, 24 Nmvmber 1978, lot 184)

Jean-Henri