Style Louis XV / Ref.14892
François LINKE (1855-1946) and Léon MESSAGÉ (1842-1901) (Att. to) - « The Sea », Gilt bronze inkwell
Width: 11'' ⅜ 29cm
Height: 4'' ⅜ 11cm
Depth: 8'' ¼ 21cm
In excellent condition.
This very beautiful Rocaille inkwell is attributed to the Maison Linke, held by the cabinet-maker François Linke in collaboration with the sculptor and designer Léon Messagé , during the second quarter of 19th century. Realized in gilt bronze , this item adopts the same forms as those used by the Rococco style in the 18th century (see Louis XV style ). The inkwell is composed of two ink containers, shaped like shells, with a humpback triton on the right hand side, and a Gibbula nivosa on the left hand side. Additionally, the term «rocaille», at its origin, means artificial caves, where we find copies of shells. The already radiant shape of the inkwell is enhanced further by decorative features in the same sort of style: there is an upside down shell both at the top of, and at the flat part of the inkwell. The asymmetric composition of these different ornaments is typical of the Rocaille style.
Léon Messagé was born on the 8th March 1842 in Sens, in Yonne. At the age of 20, he was living in Paris, at 23 rue de Rivoli and was then known as a «stone sculptor». Around 1885, he started to work with François Linke, a well known cabinetmaker during The Belle Époque, by making designs for his furniture and bronze ornaments for him. François Linke (1855-1946) remains nowadays well-known for his pieces of furniture, sometimes surprising, and always of extreme lavishness, where wood and gilt bronze are bringing each other out. He certainly was the most prominent French furniture manufacturer from the late 19th century until the eve of the Second World War, revealed at the 1900 Exhibition.
They worked together until Messagé died, at the age of 58 on the 16th May 1901. Messagé became successful during the last decades of the 19th century thanks to his work with François Linke. In fact, Messagé received a gold medal at the 1889 Universal Exhibition, and he designed all the main pieces of furniture displayed at Francois Linke's stand at the 1900 Universal Exhibition. At this same exhibition, still at Francois Linke's stand, there was an inkwell made by Messagé especially for the event.
This inkwell is shown in a book by Christopher Payne, François Linke, The Belle Epoque of French Furniture (p. 72). It features in particular the same general form and the waterfall on front of the inkwell. A second inkwell shown by Christopher Payne displays a vegetal motif which is very similar to that of our inkwell. Let us note as well that Messagé, who uses a same general shape for these three objects, takes clearly care to realize different bases and features for each one.
Even though he worked a lot for Linke, Messagé always remained an independent artist, working for his own benefit. In his workshop situated at 40 rue Sedaine, in the eleventh arrondissement in Paris, he was both the designer and creator of his pieces of work. The main technique of Messagé's design is «rococo léger», an asymmetric characteristic of the art of rocailleur that Parisian artisans developed in the 1720s and for what he is known as creating a new version of. This inkwell is a good example of Léon Messagé 's unique curved design. Although the inkwell is not signed by himself, there is no doubt that this is his work. The similarity to the inkwell at the 1900 Universal Exhbition is more than obvious. Additionally, in his book of Louis XV style designs and sketches, published in 1890, we find the sketch of an inkwell, which is very similar to the one that we present you now.
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