List Price £180,000
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By Beurdeley (French, founded 1818)
Ingeniously designed to feature concealed buttons and compartments, the table showcases the extraordinary craftsmanship skills of Japanese and French makers.
This exceptional mechanical table is crafted by the company of Beurdeley, one of the most prestigious furniture makers of the 19th century. In around 1880, at the time of this table’s creation, the firm was under the leadership of Alfred-Emmanuel Beurdeley (1847-1919). The design of the piece includes a diverse range of styles and techniques, celebrating the technological innovations and achievements of 17th and 19th century makers.
The rectangular top with rounded corners features a superbly cast ormolu gallery framing three of the four sides of the table. It is inset with three spectacular 17th century Japanese lacquer panels forming the writing surface. A carp swimming among stylised waves and foliage is expertly depicted on the central panel. The illustration is surrounded by a wide geometrical border, its design featuring several gold-coloured squares with foliage, the edges with a refined mother-of-pearl detailing. This is flanked by two rectangular panels adorned with various geometric designs. The gold-coloured ground beautifully stands out against the black detailing of the background. All panels are framed in an elegant ormolu border.
Below is a frieze made from ebonised wood and inset with three ormolu outlined panels. The largest panel includes a pair of sphinxes among scrolls flanking a concealed lock. Cast to depict a female mask, the escutcheon is hinged and opens to reveal the keyhole. Ribbon-tied foliate fruit swags wonderfully decorated the two flanking panels. The sides bear a similar design. All ormolu features on the frieze are expertly mounted on a polished steel background, creating a wonderful contrast between the silver and gold colouring of the materials.
Despite the appearance of three drawers, the ingenious design and construction present the user with a wealth of surprises. By pushing a secret button on the right side of the back panel, a drawer on the right opens. The interior and outer drawer edges are patterned with a dotted parquetry trellis inlay. Another concealed button is hidden on the inside of the larger drawer, opened with a twist of the quatrefoil key. Once pushed, the large hinged Japanese lacquered panel opens to reveal a mirror with a similar, eye-catching interior design as the other drawers.
This outstanding table stands on four tapering legs. Their ormolu tops are cast to depict caryatids above foliate designs. A refined pierced shaped wood and ormolu stretcher is centred by a ‘woven’ basket. The spiral-fluted wooden legs are gilt and terminate in ormolu feet.
The underside of the wooden carcass is stamped ‘BEURDELEY / A PARIS’ testifying to the important maker of this magnificent furniture piece.
Beurdeley was one of the most luxurious and prestigious furniture makers of the 19th century. Founded in Paris in 1818 by Jean Beurdeley (1772-1853), the business operated under the leadership of the next Beurdeley generations until 1895. The firm crafted high quality pieces for very important clients such as Napoleon III, and the table in Mayfair Gallery’s collection is a very impressive example of their work.
The design of this innovative table is after the model by Adam Weisweiler (d. 1820) and François Rémond. The table was made for Marie Antoinette's bedroom at the Château de Saint-Cloud and delivered there in 1784 by Dominique Daguerre. It is currently in the collection of the Louvre Museum in Paris.
Adding to its attention-grabbing qualities, the table also has an important provenance. In around 1920, the piece was sold directly by the Beurdeley family indicating that the maker most likely kept the piece for his own enjoyment. It was previously sold by Christie’s, London in 1998 and formerly in the collection of the Gérard Calvet Gallery in Paris.
Of unparalleled quality and showcasing incredible innovation, this museum-worthy masterpiece by Beurdeley would enhance the best collections in the world.
- Sold by the Beurdeley family, circa 1920
- Sold at Christie’s London, sale 29 Oct 1998, lot 151
- Formerly in the collection of the Gérard Calvet Gallery, Paris
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