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Henry dasson a pair of louis xiv style french gilt-bronze, ebony

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Each with a molded rectangular Campan rubané marble top above a pair of concave and convex drawers, front and sides inlaid in première partie boulle marquetry, the back inlaid in contre partie, both drawers made of kingwood with ebony inlaid upper edges, both signed and dated henry Dasson 1881 to the right-hand side gilt-bronze border.  \nCompare a pair of similar commodes, circa 1860, by Charles-Guillaume Winckelsen, sold Sotheby's London, March 16, 1990, lot 159 which sold for £187,000.\nThe original model of this pair of commodes was made in 1708-09 by André-Charles Boulle for Louis XIV's bed-chamber at the Palais de Trianon, now the Grand Trianon transferred to Versailles in 1932 op. cit. D. Meyer, p. 54. The Trianon commodes proved such great success that it is believed that the Boulle workshop produced at least five other examples based upon descriptions in eighteenth century Paris auction catalogues. op. cit. Dell, p. 244, note 3. A further two, possibly made circa 1775, bear the stamp of Etienne Levasseur are now in the collection of Count Patrice de Vogüé at the Château of Vaux-le-Vicomte. However, the Levasseur stamp could arguably be later restoration. It is interesting to note that that the design might have been the work of Gilles-Marie Oppenord, based on a signed drawing in the Cooper-Hewitt Museum, New York, showing a Bureau Plat with closely related legs and mounted with female bust. op. cit. Dell, p. 209. According to Watson (Wallace Collection: Catalogue of Furniture, 1956, F.J.B. Watson, pp. xxx-xxxi), André-Charles Boulle himself was an avid collector, frequently in debt to pay for Raphael drawings, which in turn inspired the mounts on his furniture. It is interesting to note that the present commodes have premiere partie inlay on the front and contre partie inlay on the reverse. The original commode, now at Versailles, was only made in premiere partie, the most expensive type available.\nSotheby's New York recently offered one of the most important copies of Royal French furniture in A Private Collection, Volume II, April 19th, 2007, lot 105 which sold for $3,176,000.00. This cabinet, a copy of the one made for the Comte & Comtesse de Provence, Louis XIV's brother and sister-in-law, was commissioned from the London dealer John Webb. The original by Jean-Henri Riesener is now at the Windsor castle and was exhibited at the Age of Neo-Classicism at the Queen's Gallery Buckingham Palace, 1972, no. 1619, pl. 138. This important commission was part of a group of sixteen pieces ordered by the 4th Marquess of Hertford for his personal collection, today known as the Wallace Collection.  As furniture historians have discussed, the order of such costly and luxurious pieces by avid collectors would have been copied to the highest and most faithful standards.  This banner was taken up by the best Parisian makers of the second half of the nineteenth century, such as Henry Dasson who made the present lot, Charles Winckelsen who made a similar pair (stated above), and other makers such as the Beurdeley family, the Sormanis and François Linke. Three pairs of 19th century commodes of this model exist in public collections: A pair by Fourdinois, the mounts cast by the Denière foundry, is at the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Rouen, France, a pair in the Royal Palace, Madrid, Spain and another by Blake of London, is at the Frick collection, New York. Differences in cabinet construction and metalwork techniques between England and France were documented in Nineteenth Century European Furniture, Christopher Payne, 1981, ed. pp. 297-317.\nThe impetus for making such high quality copies was due to the dispersal of the French Royal collections during and after the French revolution in 1789. Despite the overthrow of the monarchy, within a generation their furniture and lifestyle soon became highly admired and copied, the Goncourt brothers, amongst others, taking a leading role. The inspiration thus was there to remake such furniture and all that was needed was the opportunity to examine it with a trained eye.  A possible link between the manufacture of the nineteenth century versions seen on the market in the last twenty years and the present lot is when a single commode, dating to the period of Boulle himself, was shown at the Gore House Exhibition in London in1853. This commode, now in the collection of the English National Trust at Petworth House in West Sussex (see illustrations p. 258 and 259 in the present catalogue) was purchased at the Hamilton Palace sale (258) by the picture dealer, P & D Colnaghi at Christie, Manson & Woods, June 17, 1882, lot 994 which sold for 1,081 GBP 10 shillings.\nThe nineteenth century was rich with sales of important collections of works of art both in France and England. A milestone was the sale of the contents of Hamilton Palace by the Duke of Hamilton with a special catalogue printed after the sale which illustrated the Boulle commode on which the present lot is based. The Duke lent this commode and other furniture to the Gore House Exhibition in London, May - July 1853, mounted by the Board of Trade, Department of Science and Art, sponsored as forerunner to the South Kensington Museum, now known as the Victoria and Albert Museum.\nBoulle's legacy, originally a Dutch technique of marquetry, not only using selected woods but also incorporating more expensive and exotics materials such as tortoiseshell, brass, copper and pewter, a technique universally known today as 'Boulle' which has never wavered in popularity and was continued through France's Second Empire and into the Third and Fourth republics. Interestingly, the revitalization of the technique in France was inspired by the love of 'Buhl' furniture in England in the early nineteenth century, a movement with its roots at Carlton House in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries with the French furniture amassed by the Prince of Wales, later George 1V. The Prince was advised by his close friend Lord Yarmouth, later 3rd Marquess of Hertford, father of the founder of the Wallace Collection. The English fascination with the Boulle technique inspired a French cabinetmaker, Louis le Gaigneur, to set up a 'Buhl factory' in London in 1815, shortly after, the English workshop of George Bullock who used the Boulle technique, was established. Another maker and repairer was Thomas Parker of Air Street in London and from the 1830s, Town & Emanuel advertised as 'Manufacturers of Buhl Marqueterie, Resner and Carved Furniture', their trade label illustrated, Payne, Nineteenth Century European Furniture, p. 306.\nOne of the most precious tools in a skilled cabinetmaker's collection was an inventory of bronze master models for furniture mounts. In order to copy a celebrated piece, accurate measurements had to be made to draw up the plans for the carcass of the piece, a simple enough job for a master craftsman. However, making the complex bronze mounts, such as the winged caryatids on the present lot, is a skill that still today is little understood. It is inconceivable that a maker could copy three-dimensional bronzes with such accuracy as rendered in the present lot from measured drawings alone. Also, casting a bronze from an existing cast can reduce the original size by up to 10%. However, provided they could get access to the original mounts, sophisticated bronze foundries in the mid-19th century were able to make accurate copies of mounts by taking squeezes of the originals, after removing it from the carcass, and then, to allow for shrinkage during casting, inserting a bronze padding or extra layer of wax. In some cases an oversized wood model was made and a master model of very high quality made. Both are time-consuming processes and certainly most of the outstanding replicas were more expensive to make new than the original would have cost had they been available on the 'second hand' market.\nThe possession of master models was commercially important to the makers of such furniture because it meant that many hours of difficult and laborious work could be saved and that replicas would be near perfect. The Linke Archives, presently under the curatorial care of Christopher Payne, hold an important key to the succession of master models. Amongst the extensive collection under Linke's heading 'Commode Trianon', are a set of caryatides and matching paw feet stamped by Linke and with his serial number. In keeping with normal practice, Linke has eradicated the previous owners' stamped initials, 'HD' for Henry Dasson, the maker of the present lot. However the name Blake can also clearly be seen engraved in script, proving that Blake owned the master at one stage, possibly some twenty-five years before Dasson and fifty before Linke. A further pair stamped Levasseur were offered for sale, but remained unsold and subsequently there have been doubts as to the authenticity of the makers' stamp which does not bear the full JME suffix. This pair was offered Christie's New York, October 14, 1999, lot 452. Notwithstanding this mark, the caryatid mounts bear the mark of Blake proving that these were also cast from original master patterns used by this hitherto relatively unknown London maker. Interestingly, a photograph in the Linke Archives of this model commode (stated above in literature), is almost certainly a photograph from Henry Dasson himself, rather than a Linke cliché (Payne, Linke, p.501, Index Number 976). Payne records (pp. 194-199) that Linke made several purchases of master models and plans in the Dasson sale of 9th-12th October 1894 including the models for the present lot.\nIn 1871 Henry Dasson bought the workshop and stock of the ébéniste Charles-Guillaume Winckelsen for 14,000 francs from his widow. Almost without doubt the plans and probably at least a part set of master patterns for the present lot were included in the sale. Dasson soon became established as one of the premier Parisian cabinetmakers, with workshops at 106, Rue Vieille du Temple. He had formerly worked at Rue des Nonnains-d'Hières making small bronze artifacts and clocks in association with Godot. This experience gave him an intricate insight to the minutiae of both cabinet making and bronze casting. His first appearance on the public stage was in the 1878 Paris Exposition Universelle, prompting the critic Louis Gonse to comment: 'nouveau venu dans la carrière industrielle Henry Dasson s'est rapidement crée par la perfection de ses oeuvres une trés haute situation a laquelle nous applaudissons chaleureusement.' op. cit. Ledoux-Lebard, p. 146. He made many copies of furniture and clocks in the Garde Meuble National but also developed a hybrid style of his own, adapting to contemporary taste. In 1883 he was made a Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur and was awarded the Grand Prix Artistique at the 1889 Paris Exposition Universelle. Aged 69, Dasson closed his business in 1894 and, following a popular French convention, sold his remaining stock at a series of auctions. Such auctions not only included finished objects but also plans, unfinished casts and more importantly, master patterns. One avid buyer at these auctions, and at the ventes Beurdeley, was François Linke. A few of these plans survive today in the Linke Archives as well as an interesting collection of master patterns that Linke used for his own production.\nSotheby's is grateful to Christopher Payne for the compilation of this footnote.


Henry Dasson


Overall in very good condition with some light scratches and nicks to the top of the marble consistent with age and use. Tarnishing to gilt-bronze in few places. Three minor uplifting to brass inlay mostly to the legs. The back in Contra-Partie marquetry with extensive tarnishing to the brass inlay and mildew in places. All above stated condition problems could easily be restored by a professional. The gilding is original. In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion. NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING CONDITION OF A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD "AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF SALE PRINTED IN THE CATALOGUE.


Heights 34 ½ in; widths 48 in.; depths 24 ½ in.


COMPARATIVE LITERATURE Meyer, Daniel, Versailles Furniture of the Royal Palace, Volume I, édition Faton, Dijon, 2002, pp.542-557. Pradère, Alexandre, French Furniture Makers, ed. Société Nationale des éditions du Chêne, Paris, 1989, p.72. Kisluk-Grosheide D.O.,Koeppe W. and Rieder W., European Furniture in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, ed. Yale University press, New York, 2006, p. 85, pl. 31 for the Jack and Belle Linsky Collection example Petworth House, West Sussex, ed. The National Trust, 1997, p. 30, for the record of a single commode by Boulle in the "carved Room" Dell, Théodore, Furniture in The Frick Collection, ed. Joseph Focarino, New York, 1992 pp.233-246.

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