DANS LE GOUT DE JOSEPH BAUMHAUER († EN 1772)
PAIR OF SECRETARIES IN CONSOLE France, consisting of old
elements Oak frame, amaranth and rosewood veneer, porcelain, gilt bronze, leather and green
marble Marks: Apocryphal mark of the Manufacture royale de Sèvres on the reverse side of the
H. porcelains. 91 cm, W. 83 cm, D. 37 cm
- Galerie Frank Partridge Works of Art, 26 King's Street, St. James and New York (two pastilles fixed under each piece of furniture)
This pair of secretaries are presented in an unusual form of consoles.
The belt, veneered with amaranth, is adorned with two Sèvres-style porcelain plates in a frame of chased and gilded bronze leaf friezes. We find these same plates and reserves on each side of our furniture. The interior opens with a flap that reveals four rosewood veneered drawers and a green leather writing desk. The uprights are adorned with superb acanthus leaf scraps and gilded bronze ram's head, following the shape of the two curved legs ending in leafy clogs. The latter are joined by a spacer bearing a chased and gilded bronze stewpot. The whole is surmounted by a green marble top.
Our curious pair of furniture is inspired by the work of cabinetmaker Joseph Baumhauer, the King's privileged cabinetmaker in 1749. Established in Paris at the Faubourg
Saint Antoine, under the sign of La Boule Blanche, he worked with several famous merchant merchants such as Lazare Duvaux, Darnault and Léger Bertin. Baumhauer specialized in "porcelain" desks, especially the first flat lady's desks (Figs. 1 & 2), long before those made by Martin Carlin around 1775-1780.
These porcelain-plate creations testify to his collaboration with Simon-Philippe Poirier, who had almost exclusive rights to trade in plates with the Sèvres manufactory. The particularity of these creations is that the irregularly contoured plates were obviously intended for curved chests of drawers and unsuitable for flatter surfaces. This clumsiness may have led some authors to say that these plates were 19th century additions, but the repetition of the phenomenon rules out this hypothesis. It appears that Poirier would then have reserved the custom-made plates for Carlin's creations, entrusting Joseph with second choice plates to mount them on furniture that was probably less expensive.
The ram-headed floral scraps are evidence of the attribution, reminiscent of Joseph Baumhauer's bronzes. It appears that Baumhauer used the same bronze model for a pair of secretaries with a flap, one of which is now kept in the Niarchos collection (fig. 3) and the other in the Louvre (fig. 4).
The chequered flower ornamentation of the porcelain plates is strongly inspired by the Sèvres manufactory of the third quarter of the 18th century, as shown by a writing desk made of a sugar jar kept in the Condé Museum (fig. 5) or a lorgnette with a green grid kept in the Louvre Museum (fig. 6).
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