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A PAIR OF LOUIS XV GILTWOOD BERGERES 

Origin: France
Circa Date: 1765
Stock No: F2H0089
Location: New York
Dimensions:
H: 40.6 in (103.0 cm)
W: 29.5 in (75.0 cm)
L/D: 20.9 in (53.0 cm)
Price Range:
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A magnificent pair of Louis XV giltwood bergeres of unusually generous proportions. The arms have scroll terminals and are supported by a fluted further scroll terminating in an acanthus leaf. Each chair stamped G. Jacob.

Provenance: Château de Vincy, Switzerland. The castle was home to the Vasserot family, of Hugenot descent.

Georges Jacob (b. Cheny (Yonne) 1739. d. Paris 1814)

Jacob was one of the most renowned and prolific 18th century French chair-makers. He founded a dynasty of cabinet-makers spanning three generations between 1765 and 1847. His work spans the Louis XV period through to the Consulat. The orphaned son of a Burgundian farm worker, he went to Paris at the age of sixteen and became apprenticed to Jean-Baptiste Leroúge in 1756. Jacob continued his six years apprenticeship with Leroúge's widow and it was in this apprenticeship that he formed compagnonnages with Boucault, Forget and above all, Louis Delanois, with whom he remained particularly close, becoming godfather to his second son. Jacob was appointed a maître menuisier on 4th September 1765 and set up in business in the rue de Bourbon. In 1767 he married Jeanne-Germaine Loyer, with whom he had five children, two of which became joiners. In time he moved to the rue du Cléry where he stayed until 1775, one street away from Delanois's workshop in the rue du Petit Carreau. He finally moved to the rue de Meslay in 1775, from where some of his finest work was issued and his business prospered. From 1781 he held various offices in the Corporation des menuisiers-ébénistes, becoming syndic-adjoint (1788) then syndic (1789).

Thanks to his friendship with the Republican sympathiser and Neo-classical painter, Jacques-Louis David, he survived the Revolutionary years, both financially and personally, with relative impunity; his previous royal and aristocratic patronage making him a prime suspect of the Comité de salut public. In 1791, the Le Chapelier law, which removed the guild system, helped him diversify his workshop allowing him to include cabinet-making and mounting bronzes; within five years he had four flourishing workshops. He sold his shop and stock and rented his workshops to his sons, Georges II (1768-1803) and François Honoré-Georges (1770 1841) who worked under the name of ‘Jacob Frères’. However, when Georges II died in 1803 his father returned to the business going into a nine year partnership with his surviving son under the name of ‘Jacob-Desmalter et Cie’. The business expanded and the furniture fed an illustrious clientele. Unfortunately under François, the business went bankrupt in 1813 and this affected his father financially, leaving him to die an infamous and impecunious death.

At the time of the production of this pair of chairs Jacob's prolific workshop was solely making seat furniture and some console tables. A few years later the quality of his work and his reputation secured the patronage of the crown with the furnishing of the apartments of the Compte d'Artois at the Palais du Temple and the Pavilion de Bagatelle. In 1784, the new Intendant general des Meubles de la Couronne, Thierry de Ville d'Avray and the new Finance Minister, Calonne, decided on a new renovation policy for the royal residences, which made Georges Jacob one of the chair-makers by appointment to the Crown. Jacob would sometimes work individually, sometimes in competition or in association with the chair-makers Boulard and frequently, Séné. He provided seat furniture, designed by Hubert Robert, for the Garde-Meuble and the Menus-Plaisirs for the Châteaux of Versailles, the Petit-Trianon, Fontainbleu, Saint-Cloud and Rambouillet. Over his long career he was quick to embrace the latest tastes and his inspiration and sources were diverse, for example the chairs he made from Jacques-Louis David's designs in the ‘Neo-antique’ in 1784. Within specific styles his talent enabled him to develop a personal style which revealed itself in generous, yet strictly balanced proportions, careful carving and exquisite decoration over the whole frame.

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