Style Napoleon III / Ref.10711
TAHAN Manufactory, Julien-Nicolas RIVART (1802-1867) and Pierre-Joseph GUEROU - Exceptional Louis XV style violin-shaped Desk Decorated with porcelain marquetry And gilt bronze espagnolettes
Width: 62'' ⅝ 159cm
Height: 31'' ½ 80cm
Depth: 38'' ⅝ 98cm
The porcelain decoration is signed “Guérou 1853”.
A plaque engraved “Exécuté en 1856 par Tahan Ébéniste Breveté de l’Empereur”.
Two stamps under the shelf “RIVART & ANDRIEUX Brevetés Sans G du G”
Rosewood veneer, gilt bronze, porcelain marquetry.. In excellent condition.
Of exceptional manufacture, this Louis XV style desk is a "bureau plat de milieu", designed to be arranged in the center of a room. It is the fruit of a collaboration between the cabinetmaker Tahan and the audacious Julien-Nicolas Rivart , supported by the painter Pierre-Joseph Guérou . Lavishly decorated on all sides and mounted in a sumptuous decor of gilt bronze, four espagnolettes decorate its curved legs, and four beaded shells, enliven by foliage, adorn the four "violin" shaped crosspieces.
The presence of the three signatures allows us without hesitation to determine the part of each one in the elaboration of this work of exception. We know that Julien-Nicolas Rivart registered a patent for a porcelain inlay technique in September 1849, and that he joined in 1850 with Paul-Joseph Andrieux, a native of Limoges, under the name "Rivart et Andrieux", being then the only ones to fully master this meticulous and eminently delicate technique of marquetry. Rivart achieved here a synthesis between the Florentine hard stone marquetry and the decoration of porcelain slabs from 18th century. Rivart's invention enables sophisticated hues to contrast directly with the wood, and prevents to hide the veins and the cabinetmaker's beautiful work.
For that reason, at the World's Fairs of 1851, 1855 and 1867, this technique is described as "a delicious process", "yet more beautiful than beautiful", and receives the Emperor Napoleon III's congratulations.
He can hence combine the lightness of marquetry and its sophisticated contrasts effects, with the charm of painting on porcelain. The flower crown adorning the shelf was thus painted with a great range of hues and the freshness of porcelain painting.
Pierre-Joseph Guérou , painter of flowers and former painter of the Sèvres Manufactory in the years 1847-1848, realizes here a gorgeous painted decoration of naturalistic flowers, that he signs and dates of 1853. He unfolds here a complete palette of complementary tints, with purple campanulas and a yellow tulip for example, that create a remarkable luminosity.
Presently, very rare furniture pieces bearing Guérou's signature are known, which makes our desk all the more rare.
Guérou signed as well in 1852 a table preserved in the Museum of Murska Sobota (Slovenia) and originating from the Beltinci residence, which decoration is slightly different, being composed of four flower bouquets. The table itself proposes a more simple decoration, the four sides displaying a wood marquetry and the gilt bronze being notably reduced.
Once the shelf of our desk was realized, one of the privileged collaborators of Rivart entered on stage, the renowned Tahan . Signing and dating 1856 on the drawer's lock, the "Patented Cabinetmaker of the Emperor" used his exceptional mastering for the realization of this desk and probably for its gilt bronze decoration. The desk presented here is hence a fine witness of Tahan's favorable disposition towards the "Rivart process".
Pierre Lambert Tahan , a Belgian cabinetmaker, settled in Paris shortly before 1806, in the district of the Temple. In 1844, he ceased all activity and left the direction of his shop to his son, Jean-Pierre Tahan . The latter will then completely revolutionize the organization of the company by separating manufactory and store, installed at 32 rue de la Paix. A year later, he is already reported as "Supplier of the King and Princes". In 1855, he bears the title of "Supplier of the Emperor", a reference of the highest importance which he takes care to recall on our table the following year. At that time, the Court commissioned him a large range of furniture pieces, libraries, tables, pedestals and toiletry cases. Then, Tahan will participate in the great World's Fairs of his time. On the occasion of the World's Fair of 1855 in Paris, he presents an extraordinary aviary in walnut carved with foliage and flying birds.
Executed by Tahan , our desk is a true luxurious work, suitable to the decoration of a princely interior.
The comparison can easily be established with the table bought by the Count of Manneville on the occasion of his marriage in 1861 and now preserved in the Sèvres Museum of the Cité de la Céramique. On this table we observe a very similar crown of flowers, knotted with four sky-blue ribbons, although the colors are paler. There is no mention of Guérou for the painting of these flowers, which is hardly surprising given the late date of realization for this table, almost ten years after the realization of our desk.
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