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Louis XVI Style Mahogany and Lacquer Commode by François Linke, circa 1890
A fine Louis XVI style gilt bronze mounted mahogany and Coromandel lacquer, demilune commode, by François Linke. French, circa 1890. Signed 'Linke' to the gilt bronze mounts. This fine commode has a shaped marble top above a gilt-bronze mounted mahogany frame with a central drawer above cupboard doors inset with Coromandel panels decorated with palace scenes. Coromandel lacquer, named after the Coromandel Coast of India through which it passed on its way to European markets, was originally made only in China. The complicated technique involved incising a decorative pattern into the deep lacquer surface and then coloring the incised lacquer areas, creating a relief pattern in reverse. Originally, in oriental lacquer, the cutting of the lacquer surface would reveal colored layers of lacquer beneath, depending on the depth of the incision. In Europe this type of carving was originally called Bantam work, rather than Coromandel, in reference to the Dutch trading post in Java from which lacquer ware of this type was collected for shipment to Europe. Both names are a misnomer, as the majority of this lacquer was sourced from the province of Honan in China. François Linke (1855 - 1946) was the most important Parisian cabinet maker of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and possibly the most sought after cabinet maker of his period. He was born in 1855 in the small village of Pankraz, in what is now the Czech Republic. Records show that Linke served an apprenticeship with the master cabinetmaker Neumann, then in 1875 at the age of 20 he arrived in Paris where he lived until he died in 1946. It is known that the fledgling Linke workshops were active in Paris in the Faubourg St. Antoine as early as 1881, and during this time he supplied furniture for other more established makers such as Jansen and Krieger. The quality of Linke's craftsmanship was unsurpassed by any of his contemporaries and reached its peak with his spectacular stand at the Paris Exposition Universelle in 1900, where his Grand Bureau took the gold medal. He gambled his fortune and reputation on this stand, exhibiting several breathtaking items of furniture with sculptural mounts of the most exceptional quality and proportion. His gamble worked and his reputation was established to such an extent that Linke continued to be the pre-eminent furniture house in Paris until the Second World War. As the Art Journal reported in 1900 on Linke's stand: 'The work of M. Linke ... was an example of what can be done by seeking inspiration amongst the classic examples of Louis XV and XVI without in any great sense copying these great works. M. Linke's work was original in the true sense of the word, and as such commended itself to the intelligent seeker after the really artistic things of the Exhibition. Wonderful talent was employed in producing the magnificent pieces of furniture displayed....' The formation of Linke's distinctive style was made possible by his collaboration with the sculptor Léon Messagé. Together Linke and Messagé designed furniture for Linke's 1900 exhibition stand, with exuberant allegorical figures cast in high relief, that exemplified Linke's ability to seamlessly merge the different mediums of wood carving, bronze and marquetry into a dynamic unified whole. Today Linke is best known for the exceptionally high quality of his work, as well as his individualism and inventiveness. All of his work has the finest, most lavish mounts, very often applied to comparatively simple carcasses. The technical brilliance of his work and the artistic change that it represented were never to be repeated. Bibliography: Payne, Christopher. François Linke, (1855 - 1946), The Belle Époque of French Furniture, Antique Collectors' Club, (Woodbridge, UK), 2003. Meyer, Jonathan. Great Exhibitions - London, New York, Paris, Philadelphia, 1851-1900, Antique Collectors' Club, (Woodbridge, UK), 2006; pp. 298 - 300. Ledoux - Lebard, Denise. Les Ébénistes du XIXe siècle, Les Editions de l'Amateur, (Paris), 1984; pp. 439-43. Revue Artistique & Industrielle, (Paris), July-August 1900. Coral Thomsen, D. (ed), The Paris Exhibition 1900, The Art Journal, 1901; p.341.
- In the Style Of
- Place of Origin
- Date of Manufacturecirca 1890
- Materials and Techniques
- DimensionsH 40.16 in. x W 40.56 in. x D 17.72 in.H 102 cm x W 103 cm x D 45 cm
- Seller LocationLondon, GB
- Seller Reference NumberB72320
- Reference NumberLU102804772903
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