An important French Louis XVI ”bureau plat”
514. An important French Louis XVI ”bureau plat”
France ca 1770‑1775. Mahogany venéer. The top with partly gilded leather writing surface above three frieze drawers and reverse with three similar pseudo drawers. On fluted tapering legs terminating in brass caps. Bottom of drawer with inventory mark CP. Length 194, Width 96,5, Height 77 cm.
SEK 300.000 – 400.000 € 28.000 – 38.000
Duc de Choiseul au Château de Chanteloup.
Duc de Penthièvre à Chanteloup.
Sotheby’s, Paris, 18th Century Furniture and Works of Art, 17 december 2008, lot 96, sold as attributed to Georg Haupt.
A Swedish Private Collection, acquired at the sale above.
Chanteloup, Un moment de grâce autour du duc de Choiseul, cat. exp. Musée des Beaux-Arts de Tours,
7 avril-8 juillet 2007, Paris, 2007, pp. 242‑244, illustrated fig. 1.
Duc de Choiseul (1719-1785) acquired Chateau de Chanteloup in 1761 and began to modernize the interior of the palace extensively. Among the artists and craftsmen enlisted by the Duke was Simon Oeben, whose workshop delivered fine and fashionable furniture to the palace. Simon inherited the role as the most important supplier of furniture to Duc de Choiseul from his elder brother Jean-Francois Oeben who passed away in 1763.
This auction’s writing desk, made to stand detached in a room, would have been part of an exquisite interior in the early French neo-classical style. Notable is the sublime use of ormolu on the subtle mahogany surface. Together with the carved fluting and the gilt decoration on the leather top, the desk bears the mark of a true masterpiece.
A comparable piece of furniture is the bureau-plat signed by Jean-Francois Leleu in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Jean Francois Leleu was active from 1764 and received several important commissions. Amongst these was furniture for the Prince de Condé, Louis-Joseph de Bourbon. He had been trained by the famous Jean-Francois Oeben as had several others of the foremost ébénistes of the late 18th century in Paris. Leleu is one of several cabinet-makers who could be the maker of the desk in this auction. The quality of the workmanship is superb and it is certain that the ébéniste behind it was part of the circle of furniture makers in Paris during the Louis XVI period.
One of many journeymen working for Simon Oeben was the Swedish ébéniste Georg Haupt, active in Oeben’s workshop between 1767-1768 before leaving for London. He occupied the post as “ébéniste du Roi” at the Swedish court in Stockholm from 1770. At an earlier sale at Sotheby’s in Paris the desk in this auction was attributed to Haupt. Another mahogany desk made for Duc de Choiseul bears Haupt’s signature hidden under the leather top. Further, the signed desk bears many of the characteristics of Haupt known from his later years in Stockholm. The placement of the drawers, the leg-room below the desk top and the fluting above the tapered legs are all recurrent in Haupt’s desks made in Stockholm. The signed desk is located today in the city hall in the town of Amboise, France. This auction’s highly important desk does not share the frequently repeated features of a desk made by Haupt and as it would be dated to post 1770 Haupt could not be the maker of this particular piece of furniture. Hence, although it bears resemblance to the desk signed by Haupt it differs in important details.