Louis XIV chest of drawers with wooden top called "à consoles rapportées" in veneer and marquetry of rosewood and walnut of the Alps and with very rich ornamentation of gilt bronze.
By Thomas Hache, cabinetmaker of the Duke of Orleans. Grenoble around 1715.
Very rare chest of drawers with a curved front and a wooden top surrounded by an ingot mould, opening with three drawers on three rows, the intermediate crosspieces darkened with flutes, the front uprights in consoles with fluted pilasters, the rear uprights with a recess also darkened with two glyphs.
The fir wood frame is covered with a rosewood veneer on the front, in fern frieze framed by wide fillets, and on the sides with a walnut veneer in frieze, while the top is covered with a rosewood marquetry with geometrical patterns of circles and semi-circles with butterfly wing reserves on either side of a large poly-lobed pattern with clear sapwood contours.
It is adorned with an exceptional ornamentation of chased and gilded bronzes (and polished brass for the moulding and the eleven flutes): mobile handles with plates with ram heads openwork with interlaced foliage, entries of locks with female masks enrubannés, small masks of Ceres on culots, spandrels of drawers with small scallops thickened with crossettes, capitals with twisted scrolls piqued with rosettes, falls of amounts in culots with scrolls of lily of the valley cushioned with female busts, shells in palmettes and falls with volutes, on the side very important mascaron of Neptune, and finally facings of feet with interlacing movements in C and important cul-de-lamp with the mask of Ceres in a scrolled cartouche, the whole flanked by broad volutes of acanthus crisp.
Thomas Hache (1664 - 1747), master in 1701, was the son of the Toulouse cabinetmaker Noël Hache in whose workshop he began an apprenticeship which he later continued in Paris and then in the Duchy of Savoy. It was his marriage to the daughter of the Grenoble cabinetmaker Chevalier that decided his final move to the Dauphiné. He took over Chevalier's renowned workshop in Rue Neuve in Grenoble, a workshop that he developed and whose reputation he increased until he won the favor of the young Louis d'Orléans, which was realized in 1721 with the granting of a patent of Guard and Cabinetmaker of Monseigneur le Duc d'Orléans, which opened the doors to aristocratic customers. His work will remain influenced by the Italian marquetry and that of André-Charles Boulle, with a constant concern to highlight the woods of the Alps. His son Pierre worked with him until his death and his grandson Jean-François (born in 1730) did part of his apprenticeship with him.
The main singularity of the Hache family, the most determining factor in their reputation, is to be the only provincial cabinetmakers to have equaled the greatest Parisian masters. From a pure cabinetmaking point of view, Thomas is probably the one who came closest to the models of the capital with his Mazarine commodes called "au Jasmin" in the manner of a Gaudron and his curved models treated in the manner of a François Lieutaud. On this chest of drawers, the choice of Brazilian rosewood, rare among the Hache family, demonstrates Thomas' desire to be as close as possible to the cabinetmakers of Paris. But if he is of course influenced by Parisian taste and know-how, his chests of drawers, marked by his strong personality (why not say his creative genius, to use a term from the title of the reference book) are perfectly recognizable and this model, resulting from the addition of a large console to the more classical curved model known as D, is even particular to him.
In the description of a previous chest of drawers by Thomas Hache, we pointed out that unlike his successors, he only worked for the aristocracy. An innovative artist, he had a real passion for his work and it is undoubtedly this passion that pushed him to never repeat himself but to renew himself each time, this being perhaps even more perceptible concerning the first decades of his activity in Grenoble. So it is with our chest of drawers, unique but nevertheless recognizable because of the strong artistic personality and technical mastery of its author.
The chest of drawers studied here is also unique while being easily related to the corpus of models known as "à consoles rapportées" made between 1715 and 1720 that we are tempted to call "au grand masque de Cérès "*. In the book Le génie des HACHE, we find a chest of drawers that echoes it, illustrated on plate 93. We will present in documentation the three known chests of drawers by underlining the additional excellence of our chest of drawers enriched with a bronze trim on all sides.
Let us specify that there is another model of chest of drawers, illustrated on plate 102 in Le génie des HACHE, and of which Pierre Rouge tells us that "it is very close to it".
The first observation (we have analyzed and documented these different pieces of furniture at length on the page dedicated to the chest of drawers on our personal website) that we can make is that this second model is distinguished by a crosspiece under the top, as Pierre Rouge points out, which dates it later (around 1725-1730), that is to say, at the same time as the appearance of marbles in Thomas Hache's production. When comparing the two models, one cannot fail to notice that the cuts of the legs as well as that of the apron differ completely, the second model not having the flexibility of line of the first. But it is above all the difference in the bronze ornamentation that strikes us, the second model not being able to claim the pomp and circumstance of the one from before 1720.
*Thus the mask of Ceres often adorns the aprons of the second model, but it is a reduction, our model of chest of drawers having the exclusivity, hence our inclination to name it "with the large mask of Ceres".
The chest of drawers has been the object of a high level restoration, which took place over a year. This allowed the piece of furniture itself to adapt to the hydrometry of the workshop, to allow time for impregnation, softening, tension, drying and absorption necessary for the dissolution of the glues.
It was "undressed", its bronzes redorned (and thus we had the leisure to weigh its filling: 9,5 kg!), and its veneer re-varnished with the pad by many successive passes.
It is therefore presented today in a state of brilliance that can only satisfy the most demanding amateur.
(Its varnish is a real mirror, which explains the inevitable and numerous reflections on the photographs, reflections that should not be confused with defects in the wood and the tints of the veneer and marquetry. Also the difference in coloring between the front and sides is accentuated by the studio light).
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