Offered by Franck Baptiste Provence
French Regional and Parisian furniture
Rare solid mahogany bedroom desk opening with three drawers on the front.
Rectangular in shape, it has a monoxyl top (a single board) with a bowl on three sides.
Below the belt offers three drawers without side separation and without low crosspiece.
The set rests on two perforated legs ending in runners.
Very good state of preservation.
High quality of wood, branched and speckled mahogany on the top, burl mahogany on the sides, mesh American red oak for the drawer interiors and European white oak for the interior frame.
The edge of a drawer stamped "JF.LELEU".
Work of the cabinetmaker Jean-François Leleu (1729-1807)*, Paris end of the Louis XV period around 1770-1775.
Width: 98.5cm; Depth: 45cm; Height: 76cm
Our opinion :
The small desk that we are presenting may seem very sober at first glance, but the learned collector will recognize at first glance the accomplished work of one of the greatest French cabinetmakers of the 18th century.
Ousted from the royal workshop by his competitor Riesener who marries the widow Oeben, our cabinetmaker will set up on his own and take advantage of the heritage of Jean François Oeben.
Leleu will concentrate on the line, on the quality of the woods and on the perfection of the assembly, to the detriment of bronzes and opulence.
A true visionary who will be among the first neo-classical cabinetmakers, he gives us here a desk inspired by kidney tables, with legs with curves still Louis XV but with a rectangular top in the English fashion, which prefigures the Louis XVI style.
To purify the line, it does not use a crosspiece but a recessed floor that conceals any trace of drawer support.
The fronts of the latter are cut from the same solid mahogany plank and their edges are overlapping to accentuate the fluidity of the whole.
Leleu excels in finishes with perfect miter cuts and precision joints and dovetails despite the particularly hard solid mahogany wood.
The variety of woods used demonstrates a perfect knowledge of cabinetmaking and ingenuity in the implementation.
Indeed our cabinetmaker chooses only the pieces of noble wood coming from the center of the log, the wide monoxyl plank debited on "false quarter" to offer ramages to the tray, then the precious quarter from the heart of the tree to illuminate the sides mahogany and the front of speckled mahogany.
The height of luxury, he uses the same process for the interiors of the drawers which receive the noble and meshed part of an American red oak, whose reddish tint blends perfectly with the mahogany of the facade.
The choice of this expensive imported wood is not the result of chance but a deliberate choice confirmed by the presence of a simple European oak wood for the rest of the frame.
All of these elements anchor our office in the luxury production of the famous cabinetmaker and constitute a real counter to the productions of its great rival Riesener, which will allow it to obtain orders from the greatest collectors such as the princes of Condé, the Duchess of Burgundy or even Mrs. Du Barry.
*Jean François Leleu (1729-1807) was a French cabinetmaker trained in the workshop of the king's cabinetmaker Jean François Œben, like Riesener, whose rival he remained for a long time. When the master died in 1763, he hoped to obtain the direction of the workshop; but, having been ousted by Riesener who married the widow, he had himself received as master in 1764 and set up on his own. He was influenced by Œben, but soon asserted himself as the most neo-classical cabinetmaker of his time, perhaps because of the commissions given to him by Mme du Barry, whose Louveciennes pavilion is an example of the new style. . He retains a taste for austere, stripped lines, Greek bronze decorations or friezes of posts. His style, less flattering than that of Riesener, was somewhat eclipsed by that of his rival, but he nevertheless received numerous commissions, in particular from the Condé (several pieces of furniture which had belonged to the princes of Condé are preserved: chest of drawers of the Prince of Condé at the Louvre, demi-commode of the Duchess of Bourbon at the Petit Trianon). But Leleu's success was lasting, because, while Riesener's fate was linked to that of the monarchy and collapsed with it, Leleu's workshop, taken over by his son-in-law Stadler, would retain a clientele.
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