Important Pair of Louis Philippe Gilt-Bronze Mounted Boulle Marquetry Inlaid Pedestals
Important Pair of Louis Philippe Gilt-Bronze Mounted Boulle Marquetry Inlaid Pedestals
Important Pair of Louis Philippe Gilt-Bronze Mounted Boulle Marquetry Inlaid Pedestals
Important Pair of Louis Philippe Gilt-Bronze Mounted Boulle Marquetry Inlaid Pedestals
Important Pair of Louis Philippe Gilt-Bronze Mounted Boulle Marquetry Inlaid Pedestals
Important Pair of Louis Philippe Gilt-Bronze Mounted Boulle Marquetry Inlaid Pedestals
Important Pair of Louis Philippe Gilt-Bronze Mounted Boulle Marquetry Inlaid Pedestals
Important Pair of Louis Philippe Gilt-Bronze Mounted Boulle Marquetry Inlaid Pedestals
Important Pair of Louis Philippe Gilt-Bronze Mounted Boulle Marquetry Inlaid Pedestals

MATHIEU BEFORT JEUNE (1813-1880)

Important Pair of Louis Philippe Gilt-Bronze Mounted Boulle Marquetry Inlaid Pedestals

c. 1850 France

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An Important Pair of Louis Philippe Gilt-Bronze Mounted Boulle Marquetry Inlaid Pedestals by Béfort Jeune

This exceptional pair of pedestals or 'gaines à tablier' are based on the celebrated model created by Andre Charles Boulle at the end of the seventeenth Century.

Each pedestal has rectangular ebony top with bead-and-reel border and a convex moulded rim decorated with leaf-tips and trailing husks and mounted to the angles with espagnolette masks. The moulded frieze is embellished with stylised sunflower and acanthus mounts above an entwined ribbon-band and gadrooned rim.

The volute-shaped tapering body is decorated to the front with a scrolling, foliate, decorated lambrequin apron, above a tapering panel decorated with stylised acanthus scrolls and mounted with a leaf-tip border. The sides are headed by expressive acanthus scrolls above a tapering panel similarly inlaid and framed by a leaf-tip border. Each pedestal is raised on a stepped plinth with a gadrooned edge and arched block feet, the reserves mounted with foliate paterae.

The pedestals closely follow a design by André-Charles Boulle (1642-1732) , engraved and published after 1707 by Mariette on the title page of his Nouveaux Deisseins de Meubles et Ouvrages de Bronze et de Marquetrie Inventés et gravés par André-Charles Boulle.

This model is likely to have originally been commissioned by Paul Poisson de Bourvalais (d. 6 February 1719) and is mentioned in the acte de délaissement of 1715, whereby Boulle made over his workshop to his sons and in the inventory taken following Boulle’s death in 1732:

'Une contrepartie imparfaite du serre-papier accompagné de deux pieds d'estaux de M. Bourvalais, valant 500lNeuf pieds d'estaux contreparties placqués mais imparfaits quant aux bronzes 150l
Plusiers escabellons ou guesnes à porter des bronzes comme ceux de M. de Montargis 220l ou autres'

'no. 30 Une boeste de modèles de franges et houppes des pieds d'estaux de cabinet de M. Bourvalais pesant treize livres, prisés à raison de vingt sols la livre XIII (131)'

J.-P. Samoyault, ‘André-Charles Boulle et sa Famille’, Geneva, 1979, pp. 68-69 and 139

This model, designed to support a vase or a candelabrum, proved to be of enduring success and the ébénistes of the eighteenth century like Levasseur and the nineteenth century such as Béfort or Maison Grohé reproduced this model with the same quality of execution and rigour in their choice of materials.

Highly prized in the eighteenth century by collectors, the second half of the century was to see the great marchands merciers of the day commission highly-skilled ébénistes to restore and reproduce this model to exacting standards that today make them difficult to differentiate from Boulle’s own models.

This form of pedestal, with its distinctive apron design, appear regularly in the Paris auction catalogues towards the end of the century reinforcing the nouvelle vogue for Boulle furniture at the end of the ancien regime. Amongst the most notable sales in the eighteenth century were:

The Julienne collection, March 30th-May 22nd 1767 no. 1665.
The Bonnemet collection, December 4th-14th, 1771, nos. 151, 152, 153 (three pairs).
The collection of Randon de Boisset, February 27th - March 25th, 1777, nos. 789, 790, 791, 792.
The Lebrun collection, January 19th 1778, no. 199.
The Dubois collection, November 20th 1785, nos. 214 and 216.
The Lebrun collection, April 11th 1791, nos. 767-768.
The La Mure collection, April 19th 1791, nos. 207-208.
The Choiseul-Praslin collection, April 3rd, 1793, 1793, no. 243.
The Bezenval collection , August 10th, 1795, no. 88.
The Duclos-Defresnoy collection, August 18th, 1795, no. 177-178.

A watercolour from 1770, now in the Palazzo Rosso, Genes representing a similar pair of pedestals, was probably used to present the chef-d ’oeuvres of Lalive de Jully’s collection to foreign collectors (see P. Fürhing, “Design for and after Boulle furniture”, The Burlington Magazine, June 1992, p.355).

Most eighteenth century examples now reside in national and international museum’s collections; the Louvre has three pairs with stamps from the cabinetmaker Severin and Levasseur who probably restored them. Two of these pairs were probably seized from the Hotel de Noailles during the Revolution (see D. Alcouffe, A. Dion-Tenenbaum et A. Lefébure, Le mobilier du musée du Louvre, Tome 1, Dijon, 1993, p.88-89, catalogue n°22).

By the early nineteenth century this model was particularly fashionable amongst regency collectors of 'Buhl' and notable examples survive in British collections, reflecting the keen interest in Boulle marquetry in general and this model more particularly by some great British collectors since the beginning of the century.

Four pairs of pedestals are currently part of the collections of the Duke of Devonshire at Chatsworth in Derbyshire; another set of four is kept at Uppark in Sussex; a pair is at Castle Howard in Yorkshire; finally, five pedestals; four created by Levasseur in the second half of the eighteenth century and probably a fifth by André Charles Boulle, are in the Duke of Wellington Stratfield Saye collections; they were bought in Paris in the first quarter of the nineteenth century through the merchant Ferreol Bonnemaison (see Mr. Aldrich, "A Setting for Boulle Furniture: The Duke of Wellington's Gallery at Stratfield Saye," Apollo, June 1998, p .19-27).

During the Restoration, cabinetmakers in France continued to be interested in the works of their predecessors and to reproduce them faithfully, both in the forms and in the techniques used.
Amongst the foremost ébénistes creating examples in the early nineteenth century was Jean-Baptiste Béfort, known as Béfort Père.

Of Belgian origin Jean-Baptiste established himself as a master cabinetmaker in Paris in 1817 specialising in the creation of models after André-Charles Boulle. He famously furnished apartments of the Duc d'Orléans and it was said that he: 'a porté le talent d'ébéniste à un degré de supériorité que les meilleurs ouvriers de Paris peuvent attester'.

Jean-Baptiste was joined in business by his son Mathieu Béfort (Béfort Jeune) (1813-1880) in 1836 and together ran one of the principal firms of ébénistes of the period.

As well as faithful facsimiles of Boulle’s models, Maison Béfort presented their own interpretations of his work to great acclaim and also created furniture incorporating vernis martin and porcelain plaques, often in the manner of Riesener.

The firm received a medal at the 1844 Exposition de l'Industrie Française, and earnt Mathieu Béfort a reputation for the high quality of his work. As a result he became a purveyor to Napoleon III and Empress Eugénie.

Joseph-Emmanuel Zwiener reputedly took over the Béfort firm circa 1880.

French, Circa 1850.
Ledoux-Lebard, Denise 'Les Ebénistes du XIX Siècle', Editions de l'Amateur, (Paris), 1984, pps. 48-50.
Dimensions
Height 125.00 cm (49.21 inches)
Width 54.00 cm (21.26 inches)
Depth 43.00 cm (16.93 inches)
Stock Code
B72660
Medium
gilt-bronze and boulle marquetry
Signed/Inscribed
Stamped to the reverse of the gilt-bronze mounts ‘BF’ for Mathieu Béfort (Béfort Jeune) and no. ‘54. & 226’.
Adrian Alan

Adrian Alan
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