THE ‘PAGODA MASTER’

ANONYMOUS EBENISTE; ACTIVE 173(K

A

n entire group of furniture, among the most beautiful of the Regence, is still completely anonymous. None of these pieces is stamped or marked in any way. and it has not Ixen possible yet to identify them from archival documents. Often attributed for no convincing reason to Cressent or Gaudreaus. they derive rather from the work of Boulle and are g<x>d examples of the taste for chinoiscric dur­ing the Regence. These pieces, commodes or bureaux plats, can lx* dated to c. 1730 for stylistic reasons as well as for the use of kingwood (and in rare cases bois satine or palisander) veneers. Their stylistic re­lationships are accentuated by certain gilt-bronze motifs; the commodes usually have two rows of draw­ers and all of them are decorated with the same motif of a pagoda on the upper drawer and the same vase of flowers on the apron. The chinoiserie theme is echoed by the dragon motifs found on the central drawer of certain commodes en tombeaux and on the corner – mounts of two of the most spectacular pieces. Further dragon motifs are found on all the bureaux plats. The comer-mounts are of two kinds: corner-mounts with rococo scrolls and cabochons decorate almost all the commodes and the bureau in the Pat і no Col lection. On the other hand, on almost all the bureaux there is a very unusual motif of mask with beard divided into two plaits ending in a fish tail. This is found on several com­modes and on the celebrated pedestal of the Apollo clock in the Munich Resident. Finally the drawer han­dles are of two types: with cross-bows, laurel leaves and escutcheons, or a simpler type with foliate details. This group comprises the following pieces:

Commodes a la Regence

1) Rijksmuscum. Amsterdam; formerly in the Dournovo Collection. St Petersburg, illustrated in

Denis R<xhe. Le Mobilier frangais en Russic. vol. i. pi. XII.

2) Garbish sale. Sotheby’s New York. 3 May 1985. lot 306. almost identical to the previous one except for the paw feet (83).

3) Former Guy de Rothschild (’.ollection. sale Sotheby’s London. 24 November 1972, lot 35: with dragon corner-mounts (84).

4) Private collection. Paris: with corner-mounts dec­orated with bearded masks.

Commodes en tombeaux

5) Ader sale. Paris, 14 March 1970.

6) Former Bensimon Collection, now in the United States: in tortoiseshell with dragon corner-mounts

(87).

7) Sale Palais Galliera. 15 June 1971, lot 105: with small dragon motifs as found on the desks.

8) Galerie Fabre, Paris in 1988 (85): in bois satine; corner-mounts with bearded masks.

Pedestal for el<x*k

9) Resident. Munich: traditionally attributed to Cressent; in tortoiseshell.

Bureaux plats

10) Wrightsman (ollection. New York. no. 145 in the catalogue.

11) Patino Collection, sale Sotheby’s New York. 1 November 1986. lot 80 (86).

12) Earl of Normanton Collection, Christie’s Lon­don. 1 July 1986; with feet similar to those on consoles by Boulle (82).

13) Private collection. Provence, formerly in the Comtesse Niel Collection. Illustrated in Connaissance des Arls, February 1980. p. 54.

(82] Bureau plat in kinguood, c. 1732-35, decorated with motifs of dragons and bearded masks. The pointed feet copy a type of Boulle. I Christie’s London, 1 July 1986, subsequently Galcne Segoura, Paris)

[83] Commode in kingwood, с. 1735, decorated with a pagoda. Its pair is in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam. (Sotheby’s New York, 5 May 1985, lot 306)
(84] (below) Commode in kingwood, c. і 735, decorated with dragons and pagoda. lArchives Galcne Lupu, Paris)

(86J Bureau plat in kingwood, c. 1735, decorated with small dragon motifs, і Formerly Wrightsman Collection. Sale Sotheby’s New York, і November 1986, lot 80)

/57/ (below) Commode veneered in tortoiseshell, с. 1735, decorated with dragons, chinoiserie figures and pagodas, one of the most striking examples of chinoiserie taste produced in France during the rococo period. (Private collection, United States)

d8J Medal cabinet, one of a pair in bois satinё and amaranth, c. 1 750, decorated with twelve medals, one of which represents Louis XV and is dated 1747. Described in Cressent’s sale in 1757 and in the de Sellc sale in 1761. (Gulberthian Museum, Lisbon)

Charles