Saturday, March 24, 2018

REVISITING SOME INTIRIGING AND SUPERIOR EXAMPLES OF FRENCH 18TH CENTURY MARQUETRY AT DAVLA BROTHERS GALLERY IN NEW YORK

Among the last antiques galleries of importance in New York City in the tradition of grands antiquaires that emerged in the 19th Century as the taste for collecting the finest examples of French decorative arts from the Ancien Régime became an admirable pursuit of the emerging North American wealthy elite from the Gilded Age until the end of the last Century when a new generation lamentably turned to a sterile and monotonous craze for 20th Century Modernism and collecting of staggeringly overpriced and dubious "Contemporary Art", Davla Brothers, located in an appropriately seigniorial  19th Century historic town house on East 77th Street, has become a veritable fortress holding out with unrelenting panache and gentlemanly grace at today's ongoing assault on the easy unstudied elegance of Old World Society which repeating  generations of the emerging American rich used to understandably consider something uplifting  to which to aspire until sometime just after the year 2000, when things began to significantly change and turn away from what had once been considered timeless and inspiring.

Happily, the gallery's erudite but approachable owner, Leon Dalva, takes his stand with good humour, wit and has no intention of going the way of so many other galleries which once offered their enviable North American, Latin American, and European clientele the very best examples of French ebenisterie and meneuserie that tended, with few exceptions, to range from the periods of Louis XIV to The First Empire. Below are photos of an evening during which Mr. Dalva, with his characteristic amiability, co-hosted an event at the gallery in 2013 at which I spoke to The American Friends of the Louvre and which was additionally organized by Thierry Millerand and Kip Forbes. Mr. and Mrs. Dalva have long been very active and generous in their efforts to fund raise for this admirable organization that has played a role in supporting the recently newly restored and opened galleries at the Louvre in which the best furniture and decorative arts of the Ancien Régime are currently displayed.





During my last visit in 2014, I was mesmerized by the seemingly effortless ability of Dalva Brothers to continue to maintain an inventory of which not once item would have been out of place in an apartment at The Chateau de Versailles or for that matter at Pavlosk Palace in Russia. Several floors are all set up with period evocations against which Mr. Dalva offers clients the most royal examples of French 17th thru early 19th Century furniture.  In this essay, I'd like to share some of my selections of what I consider to be particularly special and worthy of a glance and some observation from the category of marquetry.

Chronologically, the clock with brazenly polychromatic inlay that I'd like to cite,  is actually Italian from Florence with typical Florentine style inlay that brings to mind the exuberance of the Medici Court and the Medici workshops production of Pietra Dura. But this is marquetry!  Although my focus is French Marquetry, I'm commencing with this example as there is evidence that a very similar clock of Florentine inlay was owned by Louis XIV. After all, he did have Medici blood in his veins and looked to the glory of the Medici for inspiration in his own aspirations for Versailles. As is the instance with the clock once owned by Le Roi Soleil, this one in Dalva Brothers inventory, also has a later inserted French movement. The movement in this clock is signed by Baltasare Martinot, of Paris. It  was placed inside the Florentine body in the early 18th Century. The clock case itself is really a small piece of Florentine Architecture with its form that is essentially indistinguishable from a building's facade.  The walnut case is embellished with ivory, natural and stained bone, ebony, and mother-of-pearl. The "facade" has a pair of free standing columns flanking the dial plate and which are decorated with inlaid floral swags.



 The columns are surmounted by an open pediment with ivory balustrade.


The plinth on the base of support is similarly inlaid with birds and flowers and has a drawer for storage. 



A whimsically inlaid marquetry commode of the more lighthearted Louis XV period owned by Dalva Brothers is this bombé commode bearing the stamps of both M. Hansen and J. B. Saunier. Like many examples of commodes from the mid 18th Century in Paris, it is sans traverse which means that the marquetry  design of the front is uninterrupted and that only a hairline separates the upper from the lower drawer. The exuberance of the marquetry in this example is exceptionally witty and playful! A curvaceous central cartouche is flanked by a pair of kidney shaped fields on the front. The central cartouche has a stylized fleur-de-lis on the top and depicts fanciful birds on branches with leaves and flowers that come together below and are tied by a pretty ribbon.  There are no applied ormolu handles and this was probably the intent of the creator to really allow the eye to focus on the exciting marquetry design. The drawers are opened by the key inserted in the discrete key holes. Though there are lovely ormolu mounts along the front corners comprising finely executed gleaming chutes and sabots.  The marble is apparently of the breche d'alep variety.






One of the loveliest of the tables boasting bravura marquetry at Dalva Brothers is this one below stamped by Brice Peridez who as not as widely known as many of his contemporaries among today's collectors and became a master in 1738.   It is a three-legged circular table in which the top with its customary reticulated gilded metal gallery is inlaid with marquetry as well and not with the more usually seen marble. The charming sinuous inlaid vines of the frieze drawer are also worth noting. But the table is of particular distinction due to the repeating lower level. Here the creator (perhaps working in concert with a very discerning client having very definite requirements?) placed more than the usual platform and the bottom tier in this table is the same thickness as the upper tier and provides the owner additional storage concealed by more joyful floral marquetry. The top of the lower tier has a pair of hinged doors that open to reveal storage below.






My great favourite in the current inventory of Davla Brothers has to be a significant secretaire `a abattant by the legendary David Roentgen that is almost identical to one this giant among ebenistes also created for an important Russian client in the 18th Century and which is currently in the world renowned Niarchos collection in Paris. The main front panels on this example display what can be asserted to be arguably among this celebrity ebeniste's finest most delicately executed marquetry inlay depicting flowers and exotic birds among trees. The front abattant has veneered panels depicting agricultural tools and flowers suspended from twisting ribbons that bring to mind the bucolic reveries of Marie Antoinette at her Hameau at Petit Trianon. This is Roentgen as good as Roentgen gets in any of the world's best museums!






 


Another secretaire `a abattant in the inventory of Dalva Brothers by less celebrity status ebenistes are also notable. Among them is this chesty marquetry secretaire  in the Gôut Grec style that prevailed in the 1760's stamped by L. Boudin. This splendid example of early French Neoclassical taste as society began to turn away from the riotous curves and counter curves of the Rococo that began to run its inevitable course during the last decade of Louis XV's reign, represents the direction that Madame de Pompadour's taste was taking on the eve of her death at an early age in her 40s' in 1764.



The ormolu band with the rinceau motif over the drop front is particularly assertive, as are all the other ormolu mounts such as the corner mounts incorporating motifs that recall the Baroque vision of the classical world as envisioned during the reign of Louis XIV....




.... While the corner mounts atop that join the upper frieze clearly already look to the Classicism one associates with the 1770's with the imposing laurel leaf swags surrounding the oval medallion.


In this time that has witnessed a fundamentally and radically changed climate of collecting and in the very interpretation of domestic life among the sophisticated and the affluent who have historically defined L'Art de Vivre, it's obvious these masterpieces, once coveted by princes and later captains of industry who followed the former's example of unquestioned good taste,  have lamentably waned in their desirability to a newly emerging generation of well to do collector whose lack of interest is entirely due more to a severe and lamentable lack of education and examples from the ranks of elite society  as provided to preceding emerging generations of wealthy new potential patrons and collectors. Today's newly emerging affluent whose predecessors turned to time honoured examples from the Faubourg Saint Germain, London's Mayfair or New York's 400, are turning away from a nearly 150 year tradition of  living with important and elegant furniture and decorative arts of the Ancien Régime. This tradition not only communicated a certain status and degree of education, but it was part a sincere societal effort to maintain a standard of civilized living and, as in the case of a collector like the redoubtable Mrs. Dodge and Mrs. Wrightsman, one day endow important museums with the finest examples from which the next generation of connoisseurs could learn and be enriched.  

In this new changing and uncertain world, a visit to Dalva is a visit to the Mount Olympus of the world of collecting great French 18th Century furniture. Is this an expensive collecting category? Yes... 


 ... But then it really is not when you consider the cost of a masterpiece of 18th Century French marquetry as currently available a Dalva Brothers is modest next to what is doubtfully touted as "artisan" contemporary furniture in the current retail market and what is passing for "Contemporary Art" for seven dizzying figures at the World's international art fairs. By comparison, Dalva's offerings which are mostly in the 5 figures (with some just in the 4 figures and a few more in the 6 figures) are a sound acquisition by comparison and will probably pass the test of time better than many current crazes when all is said and done.












Friday, May 26, 2017

Babette's Feast! A Neglected Collection of Outstanding French Royal Louis XV Furniture and Decorative Arts at the Court of Philip and Louise-Elizabeth, The Reigning Duke and Duchess of Parma



Louise-Elizabeth, Enfant de France was the first daughter of Louis XV. Her pet name was Babette. The gallant King of France never minced words with regard to Babette.  She was his unquestioned favourite! 

This is Louise-Elizabeth as a young lady by the preferred court portraitist of the day at Versailles, Nattier. 


Louis XV was an unrelenting lover of women, of hunting, of beauty and civilized living... The decorative arts in France and the Court of Versailles during his reign (1715-1774) reached an apogee that many decorative arts historians to this day believe have never been surpassed.  This is a famous pastel portrait of the King of France by De La Tour.


Below is a portrait, also by Nattier, depicting a grown and married Louise-Elizabeth in hunting dress during one of three of her return visits to see her family at the French court at Versailles after her departure to marry abroad in 1739 at the age of 12. She revisited Versailles in 1748, again in 1752 after the death of her twin sister Madame Henriette and again in 1757 until 1759.  Her father's love was emphatically reciprocated.


Louise-Elizabeth grew up seeing and obviously coming to appreciate the best furniture, tapestry, ormolu, porcelain and other related decorative arts that she clearly brought with her when obliged to relocate and leave Versailles to marry her cousin once removed, Don Felipe (Philip), a Spanish Prince who was destined to eventually become Duke of Parma. Philip became the reigning Duke of Parma which was handed to him thanks to the endless machinations of his tirelessly ambitious mother, Isabella Farnese (Queen Consort  to the Spanish King Philip V to whom she was his second wife) whose family had once been reigning dukes of Parma. Her tireless efforts and intrigue paid off. She was able to regain the Duchy of Parma on his behalf as a result of the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle in 1748.

Below is Philip's portrait as Duke of Parma by an unknown court artist. As as ruler, Philip was notably competent and he seems to have been receptive to many of the exciting new ideas that characterized his century which were part of what is today known as The Age of Enlightenment. During his reign (1748-1765) Parma and the court welcomed numerous savants including accomplished personages from the ranks of the less widely known philosophes Such as Etienne Bonnot de Condillac. During his reign, education and philosophical discourse were nurtured widely and successfully.


Below is a state portrait of Louise Elizabeth by Charles Andre van Loo who has tactfully flattered her while not concealing her double chin. She was well known to be a chubby woman all her adult life. .


Below is a very revealing family portrait of the Duke and Duchess of Parma chez eux depicted rather informally in Louise-Elizabeth's private apartments in their preferred residence, the Palazzo Colorno. The court artist who painted this very welcoming image depicting royal coziness was Giuseppi Baldrighi. It was painted in 1757 on the eve of Louise Elizabeth's final  return visit to Versailles and where she died of Smallpox in 1759.  The Ducal couple did not have a happy marriage. But they managed to secure the succession for the throne of the Duchy of Parma. And as this portrait clearly depicts, they had a son (the future Ferdinand who succeeded his father Philip of as Duke of Parma in 1765), and two additional daughters. The smaller daughter on the left is the future Queen Maria Louisa of Spain.


This detail seen below depicts a greyhound which was part of a pack of greyhounds that was a Royal gift from Louis XV to his son in law Philip. Note the panache with which a silk ribbon ties the greyhound to a sumptuous Louis XV giltwood  fauteuil `a la reine!


Below is the Ducal Family's preferred official residence, the Palazzo Colorna. Today it houses one of the World's most admired culinary schools!  During the reign of Philip and Louise-Elizabeth, it was where some of the finest examples of the art of Parisian ebenisterie and menuiserie and other glorious examples of sumptuous French court decorative art were assembled so that the Duchess of Parma could bring the decor of Versailles to which she was accustomed and which she clearly sought to recreate around her in her new home abroad.


Archival records enlighten decorative arts historians that the Ducal couple relied on an agent named Bonnet, working on their behalf with various artisans and marchands merciers to procure a staggering quantity of important and superior furniture, clocks, lighting, chenets for the fireplaces, tapestries, porcelain, and other related items to complete Louise-Elizabeth's objective of recreating the atmosphere of Versailles at the court of Parma. Below is an animated pair of ormolu chenets for the fireplace depicting courtly huntsmen which was procured for Louise-Elizabeth by Bonnet, in Paris in 1752, from the ciseleur doreur Le Lievre.


Below is another pair that was purchased from the marchand mercier Chez Boucher et Chez Jacquemin in 1754. These were actually in the Ducal Palace apartment of Monsieur de la Combe who was in charge of the Ducal Guarde-Robe. It is in the buoyant Chinoiserie style and after a model believed to be by Thomas Germain.


The Ducal Palace had a vast collection of clocks by the best clock makers of the day such as Lepautre and Julien Le Roy. The current whereabouts of some of these clocks is unknown. But some do exist today. Among the more notable clocks remaining is this one seen below. It is by Dennis Masson and was acquired by the Duke of Parma in 1759.


The more extravagant clock below is of tortoiseshell with ormolu with an allegorical decorative scheme and is signed by Jacques Panier who was known for making clocks with fine repeater movements. It was probably acquired from the marchand mercier Testard in Paris in 1754 and matches a description in an archived invoice that states it was sold for 260 livres.



The Duke and Duchess of Parma seem to have relied a great deal on Bonnet, He was probably involved in the negotiations that led to the acquisition of considerable quantities of exceptionally fine tapestries from the Royal Manufacture of Tapestries founded by Louis XIV at Gobelins. 

Below is a Gobelins tapestry depicting a very romanticized and luscious depiction of the New World after the artist Desportes from a series entitled Nouvelles Indes.


Below is another Gobelins tapestry depicting the adventures of the Spanish character immortalized by Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote. The series acquired by the Duke and Duchess of Parma, of which we see one example, was after cartoons by Antoine Coypel.


Note the ravishingly carved and gilded suites of seating furniture seen above and below which give an idea of the sumptuous triumphs of the art of the menuiseur in the Ducal collection... Records indicate that the carved and gilded menuiserie that mostly included seating furniture were by the very best artisans of the period such as Avisse, Tilliard (who was a great favourite of Madame de Pompadour with whom Louise-Elizabeth became acquainted in 1748), Foliot and Cresson!


Below are more examples. Do note how the seating furniture was created en chassis. The upholstery could be consequently changed to suit furnishing needs in winter and summer with alternating covering. Winter seating seems to have been mostly with Gobelins tapestry.




In this portrait seen below of Louise-Elizabeth and Philip's son and successor Ferdinand by Johann Zoffany, note the tapestry upholstery has been changed for summer with green silk damask.


The acquisitions also included this cartonnier seen below with five gilded leather fronted compartments surmounting a frieze of three veneered drawers over a front case with a diamond trellis design. It is missing the ormolu clock that would have certainly been placed atop.


Below, another portrait of Ferdinand as a youth depicts a bureau plat and cartonnier from the ducal collections acquired in France by his parents. But you'll note how the cartonnier seen in this portrait does have the clock intended for it.


The two encoigneurs below are also part of the cartloads of exceptional Parisian ebenisterie to make their way to the court of Parma. On the left, by an unknown ebeniste, the encoigneur was ordered for the private apartments of Louise-Elizabeth at the Palazzo Colorno. On the right, the encoigneur is attributed to Jacques Dubois. It is noted by its fine floral marquetry and no less finely defined ormolu that is strikingly similar to a desk by Dubois ordered by the Duc de Choiseuil that is now in the collection of the Louvre Museum.


However, among the most superb examples of ebenisterie in the Ducal collection was this commode ordered from Bernard Van Riesen Burgh that has a veneer of consummately executed Vernis Martin imitating Asian lacquer embellished by gleaming ormolu mounts. This commode was acquired and placed in the apartments of La Marquise de Leyde who enjoyed a very important position in the household of the Duchess of Parma. Though, after the return of the marquise to Versailles in 1754 it was retained in the Ducal collection.  


Other commodes with veneers of fine and rare wood included these two below... The one directly below is by Jacques Dubois. 


The commode seen below is by Jean Pierre Latz. But note how both commodes are embellished by identical ormolu mounts. This is not unusual as the guild system that ensured this Olympian quality in the art of Parisian ebenisterie before the French Revolution forbade an ebeniste to apply mounts made by his studio. The ormolu had to be supplied by a ciseleur doreur and it was not surprising that two ebenistes would work with the same ciseleur doreur. If not the ebeniste, the marchand mercier might understandably be responsible for the choice of ormolu if he was directing the production of the artisans, as was often the case.

 

Another important example of the Duchess' acquisition of Parisian furniture was this exuberantly designed bureau plat that once occupied pride of place in the grands apartments of Louise-Elizabeth in the Palazzo Colorna. It is attributed to Charles Cressent. The ormolu mounts are especially important and have the "C" couronné stamps that were done only during the period of 1745-1749. The quality of the ormolu in this bureau plat is outstanding in its execution with dazzling surfaces and extavagantly assertive female busts on the cariatid mounts seen on the four legs. It is seen below. 


The eventual dispersal of the Ducal collections in the 19th Century and the Unification of Italy destined such furniture of regal quality to eventually end up at the Palazzo Quirinal in Rome. Formerly the residence of the Pope, after Italian Unification, it became the official residence of the Kings of Italy and later became the official residence of the President of Italy after the loss of the Italian Monarchy in the wake of WWII.


However, not all of the exceptionally fine furniture ordered from Paris by the Duke and Duchess of Parma ended up at the Palazzo Quirinal.  This portrait at the Metropolitan Museum in New York seen below depicts the youngest daughter of Philip and Louise-Elizabeth of Parma named Marie-Louisa. She was married to her cousin the Spanish Prince of Austurias who later became Carlos IV. As his consort Maria-Louisa became one of Spain's most controversial queens, patron of Goya and mistress of Manuel Godoy, her husband's no less controversial minister. In the portrait below, the young Maria Louisa is seen with another fauteuil `a la reine by Nicholas-Quinibert Foliot that is believed to be after a design by Contant d'Ivry...


... And the same museum is fortunate enough to also have the same fauteuil in the Wrightsman Galleries which is seen below in the salon the Metropolitan Museum has from the Palais Paar in Vienna. As you can note, this fauteuil enviably retains its original upholstery.  Having grown up surrounded by furniture, tapestry, and other objects of such outstanding beauty and quality, Maria Louisa would also go on to become one of the most discerning patrons of decorative arts as Queen of Spain as can be seen by all the interiors she occupied and had decorated for her at the Palacio Real in Madrid as well as other Spanish Royal residences.


We are indeed fortunate that Louis XV's eldest daughter was such a discerning woman of enlightened taste in the best of the decorative arts of a time that the art of the cabinet maker, the bronze smith, and the tapestry weaver reached unparalleled heights of unapologetic perfection! Without her prodigious Royal orders from Paris to recreate the elegance of the Court of Versailles in Parma, both the Italian Palazzo Quirinal and the Metropolitan Museum would have been the poorer! 



Sunday, November 20, 2016

A FREQUENTLY OVERLOOKED LOUIS XV PERIOD COLLECTION OF DECORATIVE ART DONATED BY A ROTHCHILD TO THE ISRAEL MUSEUM IN JERUSALEM AND INSTALLED UNDER THE DIRECTION OF HENRI SAMUEL


In his unforgettably lively diaries, Le Duc de Saint-Simon assures us that the businessman and financier Samuel Bernard was the one man in front of  whom even Louis XIV would have to ever so subtly grovel by flattering the banker's vanity and turn on the royal charm to obtain the monies needed to keep going during in in the early 18th Century when the wars of the last period of his reign were taking a toll on Royal finances. Anyone who was informed in late 17th and early 18th Century France knew that Samuel Bernard (1651-1739)  could command sums like no one and he was very important and influential as a result. Money talked then as it talks today. This is his portrait below by Hyacinthe Rigaud - who of course painted the well known official portrait of the mature Louis XIV in his glory. Samuel Bernard, who later was given the title of Comte de Coubert, could certainly afford the best!




Samuel Bernard represented the emerging class of men of commerce that were the true beneficiaries of the reign of Le Roi Soleil and as this cast of businessmen, financiers and fermiers generaux of the Ancien Régime began to progressively gather power and influence in the 18th Century, they often commissioned fine Hôtels in Paris that rivaled the residences of the older and socially superior  noblesse d'épée.

His son,  Samuel-Jacques Bernard (1686-1753) , later Comte de Coubert after inheriting from his father, was fortunate enough to be born in to a great fortune. This allowed him to ally himself to the better pedigreed noblesse d'épée by marrying the daughter of of Le Marquis de La Coste by which means he procured a property and eventually joined two houses on the rue du Bac and the rue Saint-Dominique and the architect entrusted with taking the two houses and giving them a proper remodeling was François Debias-Aubry who engaged a master wood carver Jean Martin Pelletier to execute the boiseries.  Below is a surviving plan of this house of which nothing survives as it fell victim to the ambitious remaking of Paris directed by Baron Haussman during the reign of Napoleon III in the Second Empire Period.




The house was sold after the death of Samuel-Jacques Bernard in 1753 by 1761. Its succeeding resident and owner was another financier, Pierre Pierre Tavenier de Boullongnne.

The historic significance and admirable quality of the boiserie paneling and remaining contents was already appreciated by many before the demolition of the house and these elements were sold in 1887.

This was so, even before the public sale of the contents of the house  long after the death of Tavanier de Boullogne in the early 1790's. As the demolition of the house approached, Baron Edmond de Rothchild (1845-1934) bought the panels of the grand salon de compagnie before the remaining boiseries and appointments were sold to the public.

The boiseries of this grand salon de compagnie were later installed in Baron Edmond's Paris residence at 47 Faubourg St Honoré. They remained there until 1969. This is a photo of Baron Edmond below.


The panels of sumptuously carved and gilded boiseries from this historic salon de compagnie were donated in the late 1960's by Baron Edmond's grandson to the new Israel Museum in Jerusalem.  The room was opened to the public in May of 1969 to great fanfare and the installation was entrusted to one of the great personages of the world of aristocratic decorating, Henri Samuel.   As is also widely known, It was to Henri Samuel that the munificent donors to the Metropolitan Museum in New York City, Charles and Jayne Wrightsman, entrusted with the similar supervision of the installation of a breathtaking suite of period French 18th Century rooms much admired today as The Wrightsman Galleries.

In the December 1969 issue of Connaissance des Arts magazine, an article was written by Marcelle Berre de Turique celebrating the new installation. At the time, without the benefit of today's more updated scholarship which later shed more light on the room's history and original configuration, the room was hailed as a masterpiece of historical authenticity and a perfect representation of a Louis XV period salon de compagnie  which the article also incorrectly believed to be by Germain Bouffrand. It cited the presence of no less superb furniture such as the large bureau plat in the centre of the room attributed to Pierre Migeon, the ravishing Porcelain de Saxe inkstand resting upon it, the luxurious suite of seating furniture covered in fine needlepoint, the pair of portraits, the large Beauvais tapestries and the large scale marble statue of Diana the Huntress which had a provenance of having come from the royal gardens of Marly. All this was cited to show the correctness and authenticity of this installation reputed to recreate a salon in which Voltaire and Madame de Pompadour would have felt at home. See the five illustrations below from that article.














The reality is entirely different. No one who loves the joie de vivre of the French 18th Century would argue the room is not ravishing and of great interest. But, like just about any American museum "period room" (with the exception of the admirable Salon Doré recently restored at the Palace of the Legion of Honour Museum in San Francisco), it's not quite an authentic recreation. On a good day, it's an assembled group of lovely representative French 18th Century decorative art in a room  of boiseries carved in the mid 18th Century and vastly changed by the time it got to Israel to the point that its original owner would be very bewildered  and disoriented!  Years after the article cited above appeared and claimed my notice, the late Bruno Pons, in his landmark book French Period Rooms shared his research that established the architect was not Bouffrand and that the room was significantly altered to suit Baron Edmond de Rothchild,  and later the museum under Henri Samuel's supervision.  This is how the room appeared in Bruno Pons' book. With slight tweaking it's not too different today when this essay was written in late 2016.







In the mid 18th Century, a salon de compagnie  would have been for a reception or gatherings to play card games or tric trac. The seating `a la reine with flat backs would have been formally arranged around the wall and seldom removed from there. While the less formal curved backed seating en cabriolet would have been used in the center of the room and used around the gaming tables. Console tables with marble tops were part of the original furnishings as well. The currently displayed console tables are adequate substitutes however. Tapestries were not customary either. More mirrored panels would have been part of the original ensemble. Pons' research also established how the doors which now flank the short walls would have been in the corners. The current corner panels would have flanked the mantle piece!



The original cornice was once a tour de force of carving and gilding and long ago lost. A pretty but repetitive cornice was installed under Henri Samuel's direction.








There would have been no bureau plat. It was not a study. And while no one will deny, that to an early 21st century visitor, the large marble figure of Diana adds fetching note of panache as a decorative addition, it would have been an inconceivable addition to drag in a statue from the garden into a grand salon de compagnie  of the Ancien Régime!  And while the room has some lovely Sevres porcelain as well, the factory didn't exist when Bernard commissioned the room and no Sevres porcelain is cited having been in the room in an extensive inventory taken after his death in 1753.

 In the Pons publication the dessus-de-porte paintings are also discussed. This is the finest one below depicting an allegory of Asia. It was painted by Carle Van Loo and is clearly the best of the set of four such over door paintings depicting the 4 corners of the world which also had panels representing Africa and America by Jacques Dumont le Romain as well as another panel representing Europe by Jean Restout.




These are some more recent images that show the latest arrangements of the salon with the bureau plat in a different position and the canapé that was not seen in the earlier images. Note the incorrect placement of seating `a la reine in the centre of the room around the bureau plat...



...While on the wall on the right seen in the photo below, from which the room is entered to be visited with a barrier, in between the windows and doors, there are a pair of Louis XV canapés with curved backs against the walls...  Of course they would have not been anywhere except the centre of the room in the 18th Century if they would have been placed in the room at all!




In the end, the room is a fine and welcome addition for study of the decorative arts in the middle of the French 18th Century. It assembles a high quality variety of representative categories of architectural wall panels, furniture, a fine Savonnerie carpet of the period, exemplary Beauvais tapestries, Sevres porcelain ormolu lighting fixtures, clocks and fireplace related items such as chenets. It even incorporates Chinese porcelain which would have been to the taste of 18th Century elites in Paris during the reign of Louis XV.






For a young Israeli student of the decorative arts seeking to see good examples of the French decorative arts of this period it's a very good start until such a student can get to see more examples in Paris and Versailles. However as a decorative ensemble, like the Wrightsman Galleries, it's just a gathering of superb and representative items in one room that only manages to evoke and fails to authentically recreate a grand salon de compagnie of  mid 18th Century Paris in which the works of the great writers of the French Enlightenment would have been a plausible subject of discussion along with the latest gossip from the Court of Versailles!