Work Console table from the Château de Bercy
Department of Decorative Arts: 17th century
Console table with eight legs
© Musée du Louvre, dist. RMN / Thierry Ollivier
The Château de Bercy, east of Paris, was built by François Le Vau for Charles-Henri I de Malon de Bercy in 1658. Charles-Henri II de Malon de Bercy (1678-1742), superintendant of finances, commissioned sculptors employed on royal buildings to modernize the château's furnishings in 1713-14. The console table in the Louvre, part of that commission, reflects the widespread use of gilt furniture as well as the style favored by designers of interiors towards the end of Louis XIV's reign.
The renovation of the Château de Bercy
Charles-Henri II de Malon de Bercy asked architect Jacques de la Guêpière to supervise the extension and refurnishing of the castle. The work lasted from 1712 to 1714. Charles-Henri II de Malon de Bercy, after marrying the daughter of the Contrôleur Général des Finances, became superintendant of finances, which enabled him to cover the high cost of the renovations. Sculpture inside the building was done by the Société pour les Bâtiments du Roi, including the sculptors Jules Degoullons, André and Matthieu Legoupil, Marin Bellan, and Pierre Taupin. These sculptors, who worked on many projects, developed the Régence style. Several pieces of the woodwork done for the Château de Bercy have survived along with some of the furniture, including the console table in the Louvre. It is not known what room the table was placed in, but it was probably made by Degoullons and his associates, who, as wood carvers, were responsible for making the wooden furniture.
A console table typical of the 1710s
The table stands on eight legs arranged in pairs braced by a cross-shaped stretcher. The apron is fully carved and decorated with cartouches in the middle of each side. The cartouche on the front, which has been hacked away, must have borne the crest of the Malon de Bercy family. The cartouches are similar to those shown in a book by the decorative designer Pierre Le Pautre, Livre de tables qui sont dans les appartements du Roy sur lesquels sont posés les bijoux du Cabinet des médailles (circa 1700). Other examples of console tables with eight paired legs and a stretcher are found in the same book. Such tables were used in galleries to display vases, small bronzes, or precious collector's items. In contrast to Le Pautre's designs, however, the four pairs of legs are not tubular but undulating and are decorated with female heads and shells. The carved ornaments, such as flowery branches, palms, shells, and female heads, are characteristic of the Régence style.
An influential style
The design of this table clearly remains rooted in the period 1690-1710, but elements heralding the Régence style have been grafted onto it. For its woodwork and for the pieces of furniture known to have made for it, the Château de Bercy is emblematic of the passage from Louis XIV style to the Régence style. The console table from Bercy was an early addition to the national collections and was greatly admired and often copied in the late nineteenth century.
BibliographyPallot, B. G. B., Le mobilier du Louvre, t.2, Paris, 1993, pp. 36-39.
Pons B., Les grands décors français 1650-1800, Dijon, 1995
Paris (c. 1713)
Console table with eight legs
Gilded oak; Portor marble
H. 0.88 m; W. 1.85 m; D. 0.75 m
Provenance: Château de Bercy, destroyed in 1860. Acquired by Napoleon III in 1860
Assigned from the Mobilier National in 1901 , 1901
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