BERNARD II KNOWN AS В. V. R B.. AFTER 1696-c. 1766. MAS TER BEFORE 1730; BERNARD III. c. 1731-1800


ow regarded as the greatest ebeniste of the reign of Louis XV. В. V. R. B. was identified only in 1957 by J-P. Baroli. who discovered that the four mysterious initials of the stamp con­cealed a dynasty of ebenistes of Netherlandish origin, all with the same surname and Christian name and all settled in the Faubourg Saint-Antoine, the Vanrisamburghs.

Bernard I Vanrisamburgh (who does not in fact seem to have used the stamp ‘В. V. R. B.’) came from Groene in Holland. He settled in Paris before 1696. the date of his marriage to Marie-Jeanne Martel. The couple had a number of children, among them Ber­nard II. Joachim, an engineer who settled in Lyon in 1742. Pierre-Bernard who entered the Convent of reli­gious penitents, and a daughter. Marie-Anne – Marguerite. who married Jean Charbonnier. The large dowry (4,000 livres) which she received on her marriage in 1722 reveals the prosperity of the Vanri­samburghs at that time. The father. Bernard I, special­ized in the production of bracket, mantel and long-case clocks in Boulle marquetry and became a master before 1722. He settled in the rue du Fau- bourg-Saint-Antoine in a house with workshop and storage on the ground floor and a furniture store on the first floor. He died in 1738.

The inventory drawn up after his death on 7 Janu­ary 1738 reveals a relatively prosperous business with 600 livres in ready money and silverware estimated at 1.433 livres. The stock-in-hand was valued by the ebe­nistes Germain Landrin and Francois Gamier. It con – / I67j Commode in Japanese lacquer stamped В. V. R. B., с. 1745; В V. R. B. worked for the marchand-meraer Hubert who supplied, on two occasions, in

sisted entirely of clocks: more than 80 clock-cases, mostly valued at low prices (between 5 and 34 livres each). The few pieces valued at a higher price were clock-cases with mounts. The only mention made of veneers was of Boulle marquetry (‘four clock-cases with tortoiseshell ground…’ and ‘four cases in tor­toiseshell alone’). The shapes mentioned include rec­tangular. with concave cornice, and S-shaped (bracket clock hanging from a hook). ‘There were 49 clock bases, most of them of the type described as en tom – beaux’ (sarcophagus-shaped). The store on the first floor behind the workshop contained a large quantity of unfinished clocks: the carcases of 117 clocks are itemized as well as 15 tall pedestals and 60 clock – brackets. Perhaps Vanrisamburgh the Elder sold his clock cases on to his fellow makers, which they in turn finished with either marquetry or lacquer. In any case, he was in possession of his own bronze models, de­scribed as ‘20 large figurines of putti and others, weighing altogether 64 livres’, eight bronze terms with palm fronds’ as well as *35 livres of mounts, unchased’. The name of the bronzier who supplied them is mentioned: an amount of 580 livres was owed to Sr Blondel ‘for merchandise in the form of mounts which he supplied to the deceased, who told him that it was to be sent to his son living in Lisbon’. It is also noted that Vanrisamburgh the Elder employed an assistant ebeniste. Adrien Dubois, who lived under his roof and was owed the sum of 400 livres. Adrien Dubois was received master in 1741. The fact that his stamp is found principally on clocks with Boulle mar­quetry and on a console table in the Jones Collection in the Victoria and Albert Museum also in Boulle mar­quetry confirms the impression that the production of the first Vanrisamburgh must have been principally in this technique, so fashionable until about 1730.

Vanrisamburgh the Elder must have used mother – of-pearl on his Boulle marquetry. One finds ‘a box full of burgo and other types of mother-of-pearl valued at 30 livres’. It is likely that before specializing in the pro­duction of clocks, he produced a variety of pieces of furniture with Boulle marquetry. The only piece of furniture described in the 1738 inventory is ‘an old commode in brass and tortoiseshell marquetry valued at 24 livres’. The low estimate and the term ‘old corn – mode’ may well suggest a type of furniture dating to the 1710s and long since out of fashion. Vanrisam­burgh the Elder’s workshop was definitely indepen­dent of that of his son, and his stock was sold off in January 1738, shortly after the inventory had been taken.

Bernard 11 Vanrisamburgh. who used the stamp ‘В. V. R. B.’, was born shortly after his parents’ mar­riage in about 16%. He was apprenticed to his father and was received master before 1730. He had a separ­ate workshop from his father, situated in the rue de Reuilly. in the Faubourg Saint-Antoine. It seems that he was in Lisbon between 1730 and 1738 and worked for the King of Portugal. A note in the inventory made
after his father’s death in 1738 mentions ‘a bundle of 37 sheets which are notes, invoices and receipts for various goods asked for and supplied by the deceased for the Sieur Jean Laurent and Vanrisamburgh his son in Lisbon’. All trace of this early work by В. V. R. B. in Portugal was destroyed in the Lisbon earthquake in 1755. However, we know that Jao V. King of Portugal (1689-1750) commissioned works from the best Pari­sian craftsmen, as in 1733 Cressent made a cartel clock for him in the form of ’Love conquering Time’, see p. 22.

In 1730 В. V. R. B. married Genevieve Lavoye, by whom he had six children. He remained all his life in the Faubourg Saint-Antoine. moving from the rue de Reuilly to the rue Saint-Nicolas. where he is recorded as living in 1754. In 1755 he was cited as an expert during a legal case against the eb£niste Lardin. Throughout his career he worked for the important marchands-merciers in Paris, such as Hebert in the early years, and then Lazare Duvaux and Poirier, spe­cializing in luxury furniture in marquetry of bois de bout, lacquer or porcelain. As a result he had no direct contact with the elegant clientele, nor did he acquire

the renown enjoyed by Boulle and Cressent who had their workshops in the more central parts of the city. His name is rarely mentioned in eighteenth-century sale catalogues and then only by his Christian name. Bernard. Thus in the Blondel de Gagny sale in 1776, lot 177 is described as a fine commode in bois satinc and amaranth… by Bernard’.

In 1764 В. V. R. B. retired, selling the contents of his workshop to his son for 3.(XK) livrcs. The inventory taken then shows a small workshop fitted only with three work-benches, with twenty pieces of furniture in stock, almost all incomplete and unveneered (see Appendix). It would seem that furniture remained unveneered and unlacquered pending a specific order from the dealers. В. V. R. B. must have died before February 1767, the date of his son’s marriage, as his name is not mentioned in the marriage contract.


The early work of В. V. R. B. may be studied, since he appears to have used his stamp from about 1735-37. Thus his stamp is found on the lacquer commode sup­
plied for the Queen at Fontainebleau in 1737 (187) as well as the bureau plat at Temple Newsam House. Leeds (173). This piece, strongly imbued with the Regence style and that of Boulle. cannot be dated later than 1735. This is therefore the earliest piece ident­ified as В. V. R. B.’s work. The same ‘oyster’ veneer copied from certain Anglo-Dutch coffers of the late seventeenth century is found on a writing-table in the Louvre (171) from the same period. As well as this bureau, various unstamped pieces of furniture are attributable to В. V. R. B.. all similarly mounted: two commodes formerly in the Wildcnstein/Ojjch Collec­tion (169). a commode in the Grog Bequest in the Louvre, a bureau plat in the Archives Nationalcs (sup­plied in 1744 by Gaudreaus for Louis XV at Choisy), two commodes in the Nymphenburg Palace and a bureau plat and two lacquer commodes in the Resi­dent in Munich. With the exception of the last two

1l68/ Ij>w bookcase I width of the panels are typical of

4.68 m) attributed to В. V. R. В.. В. V. R. B. (J. Paul (Jetty

с. 1735-40, in bois satinc; the Museum, Malibu, California)

cruciform mount* at the comers

/169/ Commode in bois sating attributed to В. V. R. B.,c. 1735. The mounts are typical of В. V. R. B. and are found on several works stamped him.

(Sotheby’s Monaco, 25 June 1979, lot 38)

(172j Bureau plat attributed to В. V. R. B., supplied in 1745 by the marchand-mercier Hubert (for whom В. V. R. B., worked) for the Dauphin at Versailles. One of the earliest examples of floral marquetry delivered to the French royal family. I Mus6e de Versailles)

1173/ Bureau plat, с. 1735, in kingwood veneered in oyster pattern, stamped both В. V. R. B. and F. L. (Francois Lieutaud); as early as 1746 it belonged to Richard Arundale of A Her don Park, Yorkshire. A drawing by the architect Vardy shows that it originally possessed a serre – papiers. (Temple Newsam House, Leeds)

1175/ (right) Commode, one of a pan stamped В. V. R. В Originally from Schloss Moritzburg, it was part of a matching set comprising three further large commodes and Іич> <Ticoj^nur«’i; marquetry of kingwood on a torn satint ground. (J. Raul Getty Museum. Malibu, California)

/174] Bookcase, one of a pair stamped В. V. R. В., с. 1750, in bois saline. Ij. Paul Getty Museum, Malibu, California i

pieces, all the other pieces have the same kingwood marquetry designed in lozenges and diamonds, typ­ical of the years 1730-40. used by В. V. R. B. in the manner of C. riard. Migeon. Cressent and Caret.

During these years В. V. R. B. also used a plain veneer of bois satine. as can be found on a bureau plat formerly in the Wildenstein/Ojjeh Collection, on the bookcases in the J. Paul Getty Museum (168] and on travelling trunks.

Updated: October 1, 2015 — 10:19 am