Thursday, May 3, 2007

The Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Stephen C. Hilbert: Important French and English Furniture

Sale Title The Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Stephen C. Hilbert: Important French and English Furniture
. ..
Location New York, Rockefeller Plaza - Sale Date SESSION 1 24 May 07 10:00 AM.
. ...
Lot Number 29 - Sale Number N08383
...
AN IMPORTANT LOUIS XVI ORMOLU-MOUNTED TULIPWOOD AND MARQUETRY COMMODE A VANTAUX CIRCA 1770, STAMPED M. CARLIN, RETAILED BY SIMON-PHILIPPE POIRIER
...
700,000—1,000,000 USD
...
...
MEASUREMENTS
measurementsheight 35 3/4 in.; width 57 in.; depth 21 in.
alternate measurements90.5 cm; 145 cm; 53.5 cm

DESCRIPTION
with a red Verona marble top, the frieze with three drawers and mounted all around with ormolu guilloche enclosing flowerheads, the case with three cupboard doors veneered with panels of trellis marquetry enclosing flowerheads on a sycamore ground surrounded by leaf-chased ormolu borders, the interior fitted with drawers; the canted corners surmounted by rosettes above a draped ormolu torso, the apron centered by an ormolu bearded mask flanked by acanthus leaves, raised on ormolu-mounted tapered feet.
Bearing the ink inscription: Poirier Md Rue St Honore a Paris
Martin Carlin, maitre in 1766Simon-Philippe Poirier, fl. 1742-1777

PROVENANCE
Probably acquired by David, 7th Viscount Stormont (later 2nd Earl of Mansfield), in Paris, c. 1772.
...
The Earls of Mansfield and Mansfield, Scone Palace, sold, Sotheby's, London, December 8, 1967, lot 142
...
Collection of Georges Wildenstein, New York
...
Collection of Akram Ojjeh, sold, Sotheby's, Monaco, June 25-26, 1979, lot 50
...
Sir Charles Clore, sold, Christie's, Monaco, December 6, 1985, lot 54
....
Partridge Fine Arts, London
....
EXHIBITED
Royal Scottish Museum, Edinburgh, 1965-67
....
LITERATURE AND REFERENCES
A. Coleridge, "Furniture in the Collection of the Earl of Mansfield," The Connoisseur, May 11, 1966, p. 15, illustrated, fig. 20 A. Pradère, French Furniture Makers, Paris, k 1989, p. 350, illustrated
..
CATALOGUE NOTE
David Murray, seventh Viscount Stormont and second earl of Mansfield (1727–1796). Stormont served as Ambassador in Vienna from 1763, and by the time of his appointment as Ambassador in Paris in 1772, he had become an important adviser to ministers and was a political confidant of George III. This was a period of deteriorating relations between France and England, and it fell to Stormont to preside over the diplomacy which ultimately led to a declaration of war in 1778. He was created Earl of Mansfield on the death of his uncle, William Murray, 1st Earl of Mansfield PC (b.1705). The 1st Earl was himself a collector and patron of the arts, he is particularly remembered as a patron of Robert Adam's at Kenwood; he also had a celebrated library in his London residence in Bloomsbury Square, which was destroyed during the Gordon riots in 1780. The 1st Earl spent the summer of 1774 in the Embassy in Paris, as his nephew's guest, and it has been suggested that it was at this time that the nucleus of the Mansfield collection of French furniture might have been formed (Coleridge, op. cit. p. 239).Martin Carlin (c.1730-1785) was one of the celebrated group of Parisian ébénistes who were of German origin. Little is known of his early life or apprenticeship, but his marriage in 1759 to Jean-Francois Oeben's sister, establishes that he was settled in Paris and in the company of other German and Flemish craftsmen. Both Oeben and Roger Vandercruse were witnesses to his marriage. Established as an independent craftsman by 1763, Carlin started to supply furniture to Simon-Philippe Poirier. In 1766 Carlin became a master ébéniste and continued to fulfill Poirier's numerous commissions, most notably for furniture to be fitted with porcelain plaques. Between 1766 and 1778 approximately one-third of his production consisted of commissions from Poirier. The fashionable taste for porcelain-mounted furniture was only equalled by the equally fashionable taste for furniture decorated with Japanese lacquer panels, and Carlin supplied numerous pieces for Poirier's partner and successor Dominique Daguerre. Carlin also, of course, supplied a great deal of furniture embellished with fine wood marquetry panels, particularly panels which incorporate trellis and flowerhead patterns as on the present commode. Simon-Philippe Poirier (c.1720-1785) was received into the guild of the Parisian marchands merciers in 1742. In the same year he married the daughter of Michel Hécéguère, a mercier, who was also the niece of the celebrated marchand Hébert. He and his wife joined his in-laws in the building occupied by them at 85 rue Saint Honoré, "A la Couronne d’Or." This partnership continued until the death of Hébert in 1753, at which time their distinguished clientèle included the Prince de Soubise, the Prince de Condé, the Garde Meuble Royal, the Duchesse de Maine and others. Also recorded at the time the inventory of the business was taken were the leading ébénistes of the day, such as Bernard van Risamburg, Joseph Baumhauer, and Roger Vandercruse.
...
Poirier continued to run this highly successful business becoming, arguably, the most important marchand mercier of his generation. In 1758 he started to order porcelain plaques from the Sèvres factory to be mounted on furniture. Between 1753 and 1770 it is safe to say that virtually all the furniture mounted with porcelain passed through his hands, and it was during this period that he employed the services of Martin Carlin. This luxurious production attracted ever more illustrious clients, including Madame du Barry, the Comte de Provence, the Marquis de Marigny, and the Comtesse d’Artois, among others. Poirier entered into a partnership with his cousin, Dominique Daguerre in 1770, and it was during this period that they cultivated their foreign clientèle, notably including a number of British aristocrats. This would be increasingly important to Daguerre after he assumed the direction of the business in 1777. Commode à la Grecque This commode is a refinement of the commode à la Grecque, which had been conceived for Madame de Pompadour before 1763 and made by Jean-François Oeben. The design for the present version appears to have been owned by Poirier, but appears to be the only commode à vantaux incorporating as it does drawers concealed behind a cupboard door. A commode with three long drawers was purchased from Poirier in 1763 by Lord Coventry, one of his most important English clients. This had been made to Poirier’s order by Roger Vandercruse (Christie’s, New York, November 2, 2000, lot 264). The Coventry commode is nearly identical to another, attributed to Carlin, designed with two central drawers flanked by narrow cupboard doors (Laura collection, Sotheby’s, Paris, June 27, 2001, lot 52). The present piece is, however, most closely comparable with a commode in the Riahi collection (D. Langeois, Quelques chef d’oeuvre de la collection Djanhanguir Riahi, Milan, 2000, p. 212). Except for the fact that the Riahi commode is fitted with four long drawers (including the frieze drawer) which are fitted with ormolu drapery handles, the two are identical in size and in most details. The Riahi commode is not stamped but that they were produced in the same workshop is indisputable, and the possibility that they were produced as a pair cannot be dismissed.
...
The ormolu mounts and the highly distinctive corner mounts depicting draped vestal virgins are found on a number of other pieces made by Martin Carlin, and may have belonged to Poirier: A secrétaire à abattant, illustrated, A. Pradère, French Furniture Makers, Paris, 1989, p. 347 Another secrétaire à abattant virtually identical, from the collection of Mrs. Richard Wallace, sold, Galerie Charpentier, Paris, December 17, 1949, illustrated, Nicolay, L’art et la manière des maîtres ébénistes français au XVIII siècle, Paris, 1956, p. 92, fig. K
...
Another secrétaire à abattant sold from the collection of the duc de Vendôme, Galerie Georges Petit, Paris, December 4, 1931, lot 99 The commode in the Riahi collection, referred to above. A commode a vantaux in the Royal Collection at Windsor Castle, unstamped, illustrated, G. Laking, Furniture at Windsor Castle, London, 1905, pl. 36 A console formerly in the collections of both Madame de Poles and subsequently Mrs. Richard Wallace, most recently sold from the Riahi collection, Christie’s, New York, November 2, 2000, lot 29 Martin Carlin and Jean-Henri Riesener both employed the fondeur André Ravrio, which may suggest that he was the author of these distinctive chutes. Further, Ravrio supplied mounts for Oeben in 1763 who was not only Carlin’s brother-in-law, but also was the first husband of Madame Riesener. Riesener used these chutes and, interestingly, an apron mount which is almost identical to the one on the present commode on two secrétaires à abattant. The first, now in the Wallace collection, was delivered for the cabinet intérieur of Marie Antoinette at Versailles in July 1780, illustrated, P. Hughes, The Wallace Collection, Catalogue of Furniture, London, 1996, Vol. II, pp. 969-979. The second, now in the Musée d'Art et d'Histoire, Geneva, Michelham Bequest, is illustrated, A. Pradère, French Furniture Makers, Paris, p. 380, fig. 461. The apron mount on the present commode is very similar to one which appears on furniture made by a number of different cabinetmakers, such as Foullet, RVLC, René Dubois, and, as noted above, Riesener. There are slight variations which appear to make the present mount unique and, therefore, possibly, the property of Poirier. The presence of the Poirier inscription on the present piece is extremely rare but not unprecedented; it is also on a bureau en pente made by Bernard van Risamburg, illustrated, C. Sargentson, Merchants and Luxury Markets, London, 1996, pl. 3.