2003 Mallett at Bourdon House

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2003 Mallett at Bourdon House

Transcript of 2003 Mallett at Bourdon House

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    2 Davies Street London W 1 141 New Bond Street London W 1

    929 Madison Avenue New York 10021

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  • M A L L E T T A T B O l ' R D O N H O U S E


    The Bourdon House catalogue this year is more than a selection of our recent

    acquisitions. Within the pages we have the finest collection we have ever exhibited.

    From France we have examples of exceptional stamped furniture, in particular, pairs of

    bergeres by Jacob and marquises by Sene. There is a fine small-scale secretaire by Bon

    Durand which is an expression of the early neo-classical style. From Italy we have a

    marvellous example of arte povera work, a bureau bookcase, our first for twenty years.

    From the Baltic region we have a pair of glass and gilt bronze chandeliers which are very

    rarely found in pairs. Finally, from Sweden we have a magnificent blue glass bordered pier

    mirror and a signed centre table from that neo-classical jewel, the palace of Skottorp.

    Whilst the finest continental decorative arts are the main focus of Mallett at Bourdon

    House, it remains part of our intention to maintain our reputation for whimsical and

    unusual pieces. With this in mind we are including amongst other things, a very rare pair

    of steel fauteuils attributed to Gaudillot and two library wheelbarrows; the mahogany

    example has a provenance from Noseley Hall. We also illustrate a charming bedside

    commode from the Hache family workshops in Grenoble, which is veneered with

    remarkable parquetry of twigs creating a fantasy version of oyster veneer.

    Bourdon House has always been known for objects and in this catalogue we continue that

    tradition with the large scale Ravrio ewers and a fine pair of bacchante heads by Marin.

    We are also delighted to have acquired a pair of landscapes by Claudot which came from

    a private collection in France and have never been on the market before.

    To conclude, we hope that the eclectic nature of the Bourdon House style is fully

    expressed in this catalogue and we would be delighted to answer to answer any questions

    on this collection. We look forward to seeing you in London, but a selection of these

    items will be in New York and the staff there will be delighted to help you.

    Thomas Woodham-Smith

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  • M A I. I. E T T B O U R D O N H O U S E

    An arte povera bureau bookcase An important early 18th century Venetian arte povera bureau bookcase, profusely decorated with elaborate decoupage

    vignettes on every surface on a cream ground. Each panel is enclosed by running floral and foliate designs. The slope

    front has fantasy carriages drawn by various mythical beasts, lions, camels and winged classical Gods and Old Father

    Time. It opens to reveal a fitted interior with pigeon holes, small drawers and a fully decorated writing surface with a

    central ornamental fountain and elements depicting the training of a war horse, all enclosed by a deep border of golden

    heraldic motifs. The three lower drawers are decorated with period carriage scenes and romanticised pastoral landscapes.

    This lower section is framed by dense swags of beribboned fruit supported on bracket feet with vases of fruit and

    flowers; the upper section has two arched mirrored doors, each surmounted by decorated finials, enclosed by gilt

    mouldings and dense arabesque decoration which open to reveal an elaborate interior of drawers and shelving also

    richly decorated with contemporary pastoral activities and fantasy scenes of graduated decoration. The upper section,

    repeating the pastoral scenes of its interior with farm animals, harvest celebrations and hunting scenes, stands above a

    central panel of fantasy carriage scenes and elaborate classical figures, while the lower section, on each side, is decorated

    with figures in rich contemporary costumes, dancing and playing musical instruments. The whole surface is in

    extraordinary original condition. The decoupage retains good colour and engraved detail. The antique mirror plates are

    later replacements.

    Italy, circa 1735

    H E I G H T : 8 2 V 2 I N ( 2 I O C M )

    W I D T H : 4 O I N ( I 0 2 C M )

    D E P T H : 2 I ' / 2 I N ( 5 5 C M )

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  • M A L L E T T A T B O U R D O N H O U S E

    Since as far back as the late 16th century, lacquered objects from

    the Far East had been shipped to Europe, in relatively small numbers

    at first, though subsequently in constantly increasing quantities to

    meet the burgeoning demand. The relative scarcity of lacquered

    objects combined with the immense demand meant they

    commanded high prices, a fact that drove European craftsmen

    to discover the process for themselves or at least a method of

    imitating it convincingly.

    Lacquer centres appeared throughout Europe with Venice

    becoming one of the most significant of all. As early as the mid 17th

    century there existed an extremely active trade in Venetian lacquer,

    which suggests that it had been going on for some time previously.

    As with all lacquer centres during the period, Venice had its own

    recipes for the necessary varnish but it seems the favoured type was

    that invented by Father Coronelli (1659-1702), the official

    cosmographer of the Serenissima, who made globes that he

    protected with layers of varnish. Coronelli stated that its main

    ingredient was sandarac, known for its durability and hardness,

    and this remained one of the chief ingredients of Venetian lacquer

    Initially, like elsewhere in Europe, Venetian artisans would imitate

    Oriental styles and models in an attempt to give their work the exotic

    appearance that was favoured at the time. However, as the 18th

    century progressed, Venetian lacquered objects would become less

    dependent stylistically on imported Far Eastern models and follow

    more closely the general trend of contemporary European fashion.

    Arte povera (also lacca povera or lacca contrafatta), particularly

    in Venice, developed along side traditional lacquer as what is initially

    regarded to have been a cheaper alternative. Surviving examples

    today, however, are considered equally as rare and as important as

    conventionally lacquered pieces. The technique was not uncommon


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  • B O U R D O N n O L- S E

    elsewhere in Italy and Europe but found particular favour in

    Venice. The process involves the use of motifs and scenes cut

    from prints especially prepared for this purpose by firms of

    printers such as Remondini in nearby Bassano. Once applied to

    the piece they would be painted and subsequently varnished.

    The relative ease of the process attracted a number of

    dilettantes as well as professionals, lacquered objects remaining

    in vogue throughout the period. It became a fashionable pastime

    for young ladies throughout Europe, particularly in France (here

    called decoupage. from decouper-

    to cut) where it probably became fashionable around 1720. In

    1121. Sieur Crepy. fils, advertised engravings done after a

    screen painted by Watteau with compositions suitable "aux

    decoupures dont les dames font aujourd'hui de si jolies

    meubles." However, despite the universal amateur appeal of

    Arte Povera, Venice remained the centre of professional


    As mentioned above, the 18th century saw the

    emancipation of Venetian lacquer-workers from the inherited

    chinoiserie style. This affected both the nature of the imagery

    as well as the style of the furniture itself. A strong English

    influence, for example, can be seen in the making of furniture,

    a fact to which this piece is testament; the flat-fronted lower

    section and the double-domed canopy with finials imitating

    English Queen Anne models. Equally, while some of the interior

    scenes on this piece could undeniably be described as

    chinoiserie, the decoration is on the whole, far more European,

    depicting Watteauesque peasants in landscapes and

    Berainesque motifs within scrolling and foliate borders.

    Arte Povera work is most commonly found on a red ground

    while examples with a white ground are extremely rare.

    Amongst the latter the present cabinet, together with another

    Venetian cabinet of serpentine form represent the best surviving

    recorded examples of furniture in this technique on a white


    C.f. Illustration fig. 152. 'Lacche veneziane settecentesche',

    Saul Levy. Gorlich Editore, Milan, 1967.

  • A pair of Sene marquises An exceptional pair of Louis XVI giltwood marquises having square backs finely carved with beading and a laurel leaf mot i f

    T h e arms sweep down to a scroll terminal carved in low relief with acanthus leaf T h e side and front seat rails are carved with

    further leaf moulding on the top edge and a ribbon on a recessed panel at the centre. T h e marquises stand on turned tapering

    fluted and reeded legs and are surmounted by capitals enriched with a foliate patera.

    Each stamped C-SENE.

    France, circa 1780

    B A C K H E I G H T : 38 IN ( 9 6 . 5 C M )

    SEAT H E I G H T : 2 0 I N ( 5 I C M )

    W I D T H : 3 6 1 N ( 9 1 . 5 C M )

    D E P T H : 2