9776 A Louis XVI style ebony and kingwood marquetry bureau plat, constructed from a 17th century bureau attributed to Renaud Gaudron, the rectangular top with a scrolling frieze of birds flowers and insects with ‘grotesque’ masks at the corners, the three frieze drawers similarly inlaid, dummy drawers to the reverse, the end panels with wreaths of flowers and scrolls, standing on square tapering legs with festoon mounts.
The marquetry circa 1700, attributed to Renaud Gaudron, Rue de Richelieu, Paris
Width: 177.5 cm (70 ins)
Depth: 83 cm (32.75 ins)
Height: 81.5 cm (32 ins) £30,000
Renaud Gaudron was a leading cabinetmaker or ebeniste working in Paris during the period of Louis XIV, he is recorded as furnishing the French Royal palaces between 1687-1713. From his workshop on Rue de Richelieu he supplied the leading tastemakers including the Prince de Conde and the Duc du Chartres as well as Royal clients such as the Duc de Bourgogne and apartments in the palace of Marly.
Gaudron, in common with most cabinetmakers of the time, rarely if ever marked his work but he has been erroneously identified with a brand AG found on extravagant marquetry pieces, some with cut brass and others with complex wood designs, as here. Corner masks with “grotesque” faces typify his output, frequently cut in fruitwoods into an ebony background. Two small eight leg bureau plats in the Royal Garde Meuble received from Gaudron are recorded in a contemporary inventory in 1688 as “wood marquetry of flowers…. having vases of flowers with birds and butterflies”.The marquetry on our bureau plat accurately represents finches among flowers, with butterlies, crickets and bees wandering around the borders and can be associated with recorded designs by Gaudron.
It is intriguing to understand the history of this desk, but it seems likely that originally it was supported on eight, column legs with stretchers and had a central drawer with two (or three) drawers on either side, though a bureau by Gaudron at Chateau de Tanlay, with cabriole legs and identical marquetry has recently been published*. It is probable that at the end of the eighteenth century due to structural wear and tear the legs were replaced and the format of the drawers altered to fit with the current neo-classical Louis XVI taste though the overall dimensions remain unchanged. During the first quarter of the nineteenth century, the table probably arrived in London where the locks were changed and some structural strengthening carried out. The English market was the principal centre for French furniture following the Revolutionary sales in Paris and London retailers such as EH Baldock were particularly attracted to the marquetry of Louis XIV for their English clients.
*Les ebenistes de la Couronne sous le regne de Louis XIV, C. Dumetrescu, 2021, fig 189