Bernard Vanrisamburgh II (after 1696-1766), maître before 1737
The Luton Hoo commode (not previously known to be stamped although attributed to BVRB in the Royal Academy Exhibition) is an interesting addition to BVRB's oeuvre, and helps further towards the resolution of the chronology of his celebrated lacquer commodes. The earliest of these that can be securely dated is the commode with a central panel of Japanese lacquer taken from the inside of a coffer which was supplied in 1737 by the marchand-mercier Hébert for the cabinet de retraite de la Reine at Fontainebleau, which is now in the Louvre(Nouvelles acquisitions du départment des Objets d'art 1985-1989, Paris, 1990, no. 68, pp.142-144). It is the first datable piece on which oriental lacquer is used as a decorative panel and the idea was probably conceived by Hébert who was given the commission to supply it in place of the antoine-robert Gaudreaus, who was the principal supplier to the Garde-Meuble at this date. It seems lkely that through Hébert BVRB executed more of the furniture decorated with Japanese lacquer that was supplied to the Garde-Meuble in the years following the delivery of the Fontainebleau commode.
There are several commodes that are very closely related to the Fontainebleau commode and date from the early 1740's. Found in both larger and smaller sizes and sometimes without the central cartouche they are mounted with thin scrolling borders entwined with trailing flowers and small-scale rocaille for example a commode in the J. Paul Getty Museum (A. Sassoon and G. Wilson, A Handbook of the Collections of the J. Paul Getty Museum, Malibu, 1986, no. 23) and a commode from the collection of the Marquis of Lansdowne sold Sotheby's London, 11 December 1970, lot 44 which had mounts struck with the C Couronné poinçon. All these commodes have the cruciform angle mounts that are found on many of BVRB's lacquer commodes of the 1740's. On the earliest group they are small scale like the rest of the mounts whilst on the commodes of the mid-1740's a larger variant is used. They appear on a number of pieces with C couronné mounts - for example a pair of encoignures from the Double collection in the Wrightsman Collection (F.J.B. Watson, The Wrightsman Collection, Metropolitan Museum, 1968, vol. 1, nos. 100A and B) as well as on a cartonnier in the J. Paul Getty Museum (op. cit., no. 10)
A commode veneered with coromandel lacquer from the collection of the Duc de Gromont (Dubreuil, Palone et Lasquin, Galerie George Petit, May 1925) was alsmost identically mounted to the Luton Hoo commode - with the exception of the angles, which are of the more standard BVRB pierced model, and the apron plaque. A very similar arrangement of mounts also appeared on a bois satiné and amaranth commode (perhaps once originally in lacquer) from the château de Bellevue sold in the Bensiman collection (Couturier Nicolay, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, 18 and 19 November 1981, lot 87). These commodes including the Luton Hoo example probably represent a transitional phase between the earliest group and those dating from the later 1740's when BVRB evolved a more richly sculptural style of mounting the lacquer, usually retaining the tripartite arrangement but abandoning the small-scale flower-entwined borders in favour of more substantial rocaille-encrusted framing for the lacquer - such as the commode sold Sotheyb's New York, 3 May 1986, lot 108 and the commode in the Royal Collection (G.J. Harris et al, Buckingham Palace, New York, 1968, pp.138 and 139). The angle mounts on the Luton Hoo commode links the group of lacquer commodes to another distinct group of BVRB commodes. None of the other lacquer commodes that are stamped appear to have the same angle mounts as the Luton hoo piece, but they do appear on the group of parquetry commodes attributed to him - for example on the two at Schloss Nymphenburg (A. Boutemy, Meubles Français Anonymes du XVIIIe Si©cle, Brussels, 1973, pp.85 and 86, who also illustrated a lacquer commode in the Residenz, Munich (pl77) where the tripartite arrangement has been abandoned altogether in favour of an uninterrupted rectangular parnel of lacquer, or the two in the wildenstein/Ojjeh collection sold Sotheby's Monaco, 25 and 26 June 1979, lots 38 and 39). There are also analogies with the commode most probably supplied for the Salon d'Assemblée at the Palais Rohan, Strasburg, circa 1745 in the Wallace Collection (F.J. Watson, Catalogue, London, 1956, F.87) which combines many features (and mounts) of the parquetry group with the tripartite arrangement of the lacquer commodes.
A LOUIS XV EBONISED KINGWOOD AND CHINESE BLACK LACQUER COMMODE by BVRB, with massive moulded Portor marble top, fitted with two drawers sans traverse veneered with a panel of Chinese lacquer redecorated in Europe in gilt heightened with red and green with ladies among summer pavilions in a lake landscape mounted with scrolled ormolu borders with berried foliage angle clasps on the upper drawer and C-scroll angles on the lower, the centre with a cartouche with cusped inner edge, bordered with rockwork incorporating the two keyholes, the apron with an asymmetric rocaille plaque, the serpentine sides similarly decorated and framed with ormolu, the angles mounted with double-scrolled plaques edged with rocaille and wave ornament headed by cabochons, on cabriole legs mounted with overlapping foliage reaching to cabochon sabots, stamped BVRB twice, with two plastic labels inscribed 465 and Wernher Collection
The Property of
THE LUTON HOO FOUNDATION
London, Royal Academy of Arts, France in the Eighteenth Century, 1968, no. 102 (illustrated in the Catalogue)
Acquired by Sir Julius Wernher, Bt., (1850-1913) almost certainly between 1892/3 and his death in 1913