Chest of drawers by Jean Baptiste TUART
Master in 1741 and cabinetmaker of the "menus plaisirs" of King Louis XV
Middle of the Louis XV period, circa 1750
Dimensions : H. 87 x W. 131 x D. 67 cm
This chest of drawers, vigorously curved on three sides, has a very rich marquetry decoration. Jean Baptiste Tuart used here all the most beautiful exotic woods that the French court brought from the Caribbean: kingwood and rosewood in the reserves, amaranth and satinwood (a variety of mahogany) for the scrolls, palissandre for the flower stems, sycamore stained green and natural for the flowers...
The design and the cut of the marquetry are of an exceptional quality and variety: birds, butterflies, leafy and flowery branches, volutes with multiple reserves, are also distributed on the front as well as on the sides. Tuart planned for this chest of drawers to be decorated with finely chiselled rocaille bronzes gilded with mercury; however, he did not want to overload the chest of drawers as is sometimes the case with bronzes inside the volutes, wishing to highlight the superb work of marquetry (cutting, engraving and staining).
The chest of drawers is high on legs and opens with two drawers known as "sans traverse". This innovative principle consisted in the ingenious construction of the drawers which cover and hide the crosspieces, so as to be able to create a "panel" in marquetry on the whole front. These models, which were "à la mode" in the Louis XV period, were much more time-consuming to make and were reserved for a clientele close to the court or for very wealthy clients who wanted furniture that was more decorative than practical: the disappearance of the lower drawer and the pronounced, bulging curves of the sides reduce the volume of storage space; on the other hand, the elegance and lightness of the piece of furniture is unparalleled, with a front that is more compact than the back and a slender line of legs that exacerbate the volumes.
The original marble is a superb "Aleppo breccia". It was brought from Syria, then from Italy when the veins were exhausted. Along with "Portor" and "Griotte", Aleppo breccia was the privilege of the most beautiful furniture during the Louis XV period and the transition, much more appreciated and expensive than the classic white or grey marbles. The bronzes, all of which are also original, have retained their mercury gilding. We have compiled a digital restoration file, the images of which show that for once, the absence of any unfortunate cleaning has allowed the gilding to remain intact.
The chest of drawers is stamped Jean-Baptiste Tuart, master in 1741. The production of this cabinetmaker is as rare as it is meticulous. Tuart worked in the cloister of Saint Germain l'Auxerrois, and supplied between 1744 and 1753 the Menus-plaisirs of King Louis XV who organised the ceremonies and shows of the court. He worked with the greatest of his time, Roussel, Migeon and Boudin. Among the furniture of his workmanship preserved in museums, let us note a small piece of furniture forming a sloping desk, whose marquetry is not without reminding that of our commode, and which is preserved in Paris at the Museum of Decorative Arts.
Our chest of drawers bears the Tuart stamp and the JME stamp on the front right-hand side. It also bears an inventory number 69302 08, in ink on a board on the top of the chest.
This piece of furniture has undergone a complete restoration of very high quality which required 500 hours of work. The frame was completely deconstructed and then glued back together. For the sake of conservation, the marquetry was removed piece by piece, restored and put back in place before being varnished with a buffer. The state of conservation is very good, with no more than 5% of the marquetry missing and reconstructed. The frame is original in its entirety. The only work undertaken on this chest of drawers is restoration for use and maintenance.
8 500 €
120 000 €