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Work Chiffonier table
Department of Decorative Arts: 18th century: rococo
Table chiffonnière (work table)
18th century: rococo
During the reign of Louis XV, small occasional tables of this type were produced in increasing numbers and variety. Chiffonier tables sometimes had several drawers and were supported on tall curved legs. The Louvre example, attributed to Bernard van Risenburgh II, has probably lost its original porcelain top, but has preserved its vernis Martin decoration. It is a prime example of the elegance of Louis XV furniture.
A chiffonier table
This type of table has one or several drawers and stands on tall curved legs connected by a stretcher. Chiffonier tables probably had a variety of uses: the Louvre example may well have been used for writing - the drawer has three compartments designed for writing materials, and the piece also featured a writing-rest (now lost). Small tables such as this were a feature of elegant households under Louis XV, where they could be carried from one room to another depending on the numbers of people present. They were generally fitted with gilt bronze handles at the sides, as here.
B.V.R.B. and the marchands-merciers
A number of similar tables bear the mark of Bernard II van Risenburgh (after 1696-circa 1766), a member of a noted family of cabinetmakers. Van Risenburgh was active in the Parisian furniture quarter, the Faubourg Saint- Antoine, and worked exclusively through dealers known as the marchands-merciers. The identification mark "B.V.R.B." was intended to ensure that he remained anonymous, so that clients requesting a new piece of furniture from the same cabinetmaker were forced use the marchand-mercier as an intermediary. "B.V.R.B." made several chiffonier tables for the marchand-mercier Simon Philippe Poirier, who provided the costly porcelain top and gilt bronze mounts. Once the piece of furniture was completed, the cabinetmaker delivered it to Poirier who took responsibility for selling it on. Another table with the mark B.V.R.B. is preserved in the Louvre, identically-shaped and with gilt bronze mounts. The latter has a top made of Sèvres porcelain, like the other extant tables by "B.V.R.B.", leading us to suppose that the present table's white marble top is a later replacement.
The base of this table is decorated with vernis Martin in a trellis pattern intertwined with small flowers. This varnish must originally have been a pink color but has faded over time. The J.P. Getty Museum in Los Angeles (California) also has a chiffonier table bearing the mark B.V.R.B., with different vernis Martin and a Sèvres porcelain top dating from 1761 featuring the same trellis pattern as the Louvre table, on a pink ground. It is therefore possible that the Sèvres porcelain top in the J.P. Getty Museum was originally on the Louvre table, and was replaced at some unknown date by the present marble top.
Bibliography- SASSOON Adrian, Vincennes and Sèvres porcelain, catalogue of the collection, The Jean-Paul Getty Museum, Malibu, California, 1991, pp. 162-165.
- ALCOUFFE D., DION-TENNENBAUM A., LEFEBURE A., Le Mobilier du Musée du Louvre, Dijon, Éditions Faton, 1993, p. 171.
Attributed to Bernard II van RISENBURGH (c. 1700 - 1765-76)
Table chiffonnière (work table)
Oak frame; fruitwoods veneer; Vernis Martin; gilded bronze; white marble
H. 66 cm; W. 36 cm; D. 29 cm
Baronne Salomon de Rothschild bequest, 1922
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