Curved chest of drawers opening by three drawers in violet wood veneer. It rests on four small curved feet. The chest of drawers is decorated with rich gilded bronzes representing dragons, sunflowers, flowers and foliage; in handles, in entries of lock, in moustache, in apron, in hoof.
The chest of drawers is topped with a red griotte marble from Belgium.
Attributed to the Master with the pagodas
Restorations of use, key redone, an accident to the marble
H. 82 x W. 121 x D. 60 cm
The chest of drawers we are presenting today is a remarkable Regence period model. Indeed, it testifies to the taste for chinoiseries. Noted for its bronzes, this desire for exoticism became the specialty of a cabinetmaker. In addition to being of great quality ("bold bronzes", balanced lines, elegant veneer design, etc.), the chest of drawers is most likely one of the witnesses of the production of a mystery figure, a considerable enigma.
Historians have noted the production of chests of drawers and flat desks decorated with bronzes inspired by China (dragons, pagodas, etc.) quite unprecedented in the decorative arts. Initially associated with evil and the devil in Christian culture, the dragon (present on our chest of drawers) became in the early 18th century a figure linked to pleasure and exoticism in connection with the Far East.
The veneers are almost always in violet wood (except for some works in satinwood and rosewood). The frame is in fir and the drawers are in oak. The production is mainly centered on chests of drawers (with 2 or 3 rows of drawers). The bronzes on the falls are either with rocaille and four oves, or with winged dragons, or with rosettes made of sunflowers (as shown on our chest of drawers). The hooves are either in the shape of a rock covered with foliage, or in the shape of pasta with claws (as in our study). The handles, finally, are either composed of branches of flowers, or formed by an element close to a crossbow decorated with ivy leaves and joined by an escutcheon in the center (these are the handles that appear on our dresser).
A real investigation was then carried out by Alexandre Pradère in order to better know his work. Unfortunately, the stamp was not mandatory during the Regency and the lack of documents did not allow an official identification of this great cabinetmaker. He has often been confused with Charles Cressent, Etienne Doirat, Noël Gérard, the sons of André Charles Boulle. However, his work is so original within the Regency production that it can only be the work of one man. The information that Mr. Pradère notes is that he is a Parisian cabinetmaker active in Paris around 1730-1745. But the problem of finding a name for him came up: it was to be "The master of the pagodas", a natural denomination coming from his very marked taste for chinoiserie. These stylistic criteria and the interest that collectors and historians have in the production of our anonymous cabinetmaker have made it possible to reveal this great craftsman.
His work is particularly complex and original in its bronzes. Therefore, his furniture is a real collector's item. The chest of drawers that we present is quite remarkable since it is part of the rare pieces of furniture to be officially recognized as being attributed to his hand (several pages of the Estampille Objet d'art dating from March 1992, reference articles for the Master of Pagodas, reproduced our chest of drawers). We also learn that the Maître aux Pagodes often made his chests of drawers in pairs and that the sister of our chest of drawers was sold on June 15, 1971 at the Palais Galliera.
Thus, we could see that this is a piece of furniture of very high quality, original for its time, witness of an intriguing cabinetmaker, known in the press and in the art world.
" The master of the pagodas ", L'Estampille Objet d'art, March 1992
Pradère (Alexandre), French cabinetmakers from Louis XIV to the Revolution, Chène