Franz Kommode 02

Magnificent Large Salon Commode from the renowned workshop of the cabinetmaker Pierre Roussel

France, 2nd third of the 18th Century

This large and extra­or­di­nar­i­ly exe­cut­ed Com­mode was craft­ed in Paris around 1750 by the renowned cab­i­net­mak­er Pierre Rous­sel (1723 — 1782). The piece fea­tures two large draw­ers made with sans tra­vers, as well as a mould­ed mar­ble top fol­low­ing the con­tours of the fur­ni­ture, craft­ed from red Gri­otte marble.

This mar­ble was a favorite of Louis XIV and was exten­sive­ly used in all of his prop­er­ties. The oak body is fine­ly veneered with vio­let or king­wood and rose­wood. The term king­wood” orig­i­nat­ed because French kings (includ­ing Louis XIV and Louis XV) great­ly val­ued the wood for mak­ing noble fur­ni­ture in the 17th and 18th cen­turies. The front is beau­ti­ful­ly orna­ment­ed in Rous­sel’s typ­i­cal curved form with band and string inlays, over which the mag­nif­i­cent gild­ed bronze hard­ware is adorned.

The square legs, slight­ly flared and tran­si­tion­ing into slight­ly advanced, angled pilasters or front stiles, are dec­o­rat­ed with gild­ed bronze fit­tings in the form of flow­ers, foliage, and rocaille shapes.

The two large draw­ers are rich­ly dec­o­rat­ed with gar­lands of acan­thus foliage, which encom­pass both the key­holes and the four draw­er han­dles, con­verg­ing in a high­ly elab­o­rate ele­ment of foliage and berries in the low­er cen­ter. The two sides of the splen­did com­mode are sim­i­lar­ly adorned with elab­o­rate gild­ed bronze fit­tings. Here too, the veneer is mir­rored in but­ter­fly form, worked with string inlays and a sur­round­ing frieze.

The piece cap­ti­vates with both its mas­ter­ful and char­ac­ter­is­tic Rous­sel veneer and inlay work, as well as its mag­nif­i­cent, fine­ly chis­eled gild­ed bronze hardware.

Stamp on the right front stile under the top: P. Rous­sel, as well as guild stamp JME (Jurande des Menuisiers-Ébenistes) shield with mono­gram BTF and rank crown in a frame on the back, as well as a large paint­ed B also on the back.

Pierre Rous­sel (1723 — June 7, 1782) was one of the promi­nent cab­i­net­mak­ers of the Rous­sel dynasty. His father was a sim­ple jour­ney­man who worked for a mas­ter cab­i­net­mak­er. Four of Rous­sel’s broth­ers were menuisiers (car­pen­ters) and worked on carved seat­ing fur­ni­ture and room pan­el­ing. Rous­sel opened a work­shop on Rue de Char­in­ton in Paris. His begin­nings were mod­est, but through dili­gence and busi­ness acu­men, he devel­oped into one of the most sought-after and tal­ent­ed cab­i­net­mak­ers of his time.

Rous­sel craft­ed a vari­ety of fur­ni­ture in a wide range of types and styles, with detailed mar­quetry and gild­ed bronze fit­tings of excel­lent qual­i­ty. He mar­ried Marie-Antoinette Fontaine in 1743 and received his mas­ter’s title on August 21, 1745, being received as a mas­ter cab­i­net­mak­er by the Paris guild. In 1762 and 1780, he was appoint­ed a juré (mem­ber of the jury) and held oth­er posi­tions in the Cor­po­ra­tion des Menuisiers-Ébenistes. He received sup­port in his exten­sive busi­ness from his two sons, Pierre-Michel (mas­ter in 1766) and Pierre le Jeune (mas­ter in 1771).

The con­tem­po­rary Almanach d’indi­ca­tion générale ou du Vray mérite” high­light­ed him in 1768 as one of the most promi­nent cab­i­net­mak­ers of his time in Paris (Kiell­berg, p. 729). Pierre Rous­sel had many patrons and sig­nif­i­cant clients. One of his biggest patrons was the Prince de Condé, who made con­sid­er­able pur­chas­es from Rous­sel between 1775 and 1780 for the Palais Bour­bon and the Château de Chan­til­ly. In addi­tion to Louis Joseph De Bour­bon, Huitième Prince De Conde, the list of names of his clients reads like a small who’s who of his time.

Among them are per­son­al­i­ties such as:

Louise Mathilde d’Or­léans Duchess of Bour­bon, Ver­sailles, Château de Ver­sailles et de Tri­anon, Louis Jean Marie de Bour­bon Duc de Penthièvre, Louise Félic­itè Vic­toire d’A­mont Princess de Mona­co, Anne David Sophie Cro­mot De Fougy, Pierre-Charles Bon­nefoy Du Plan (cus­to­di­an of the Queen’s fur­ni­ture), concierge of Queen Marie Antoinette at the Petit Tri­anon. From March 17, 1789, he also served as the king’s sec­re­tary.

Dur­ing the tri­al against Marie Antoinette, he spent fif­teen months in prison, from which he was only released after the death of Robe­spierre. Pierre Rous­sel received, among many oth­ers, sig­nif­i­cant orders from the Le Garde-Meu­ble De La Couronne (Crown Fur­ni­ture Stor­age) and Les Menus-Plaisirs (enter­tain­ment offices of the court), to name a few.

The largest muse­ums today pre­serve fur­ni­ture by Pierre Rous­sel, includ­ing:

M.A.D. Muse­um of Arts and Design NY, Louis — Saint Louis Art Muse­um, Lou­vre Paris, Petit Palais, Wad­des­don Manor, Col­lec­tion Ver­sailles, Château de Ver­sailles et de Tri­anon, and many more.

Fur­ther col­lec­tions and lit­er­a­ture:

André Boute­my’s assess­ment at the arti­cle on Adrien Delorme

Fran­cis J.B. Wat­son, The Wrights­man Col­lec­tion”: Fur­ni­ture, Gilt Bronzes and Mount­ed Porce­lain, 1966:557f (brief bio­graph­i­cal notice)

Samuel H. Kress Col­lec­tion at the Met­ro­pol­i­tan Muse­um of Art

The James A. de Roth­schild Col­lec­tion at Wad­des­don Manor: II. Fur­ni­ture, Clocks and Gilt Bronze

Comte François de Salverte, Les ébénistes du xvi­i­ie siè­cle”, 1927, s.v. Rous­sel, Pierre“

Les Rous­sel une Dynas­tie d’Ébénistes au XVI­II Siè­cle

Pierre Kjell­berg: Le Mobili­er Français du XVI­I­Ie Siè­cle, Paris 2008, p. 766 – 775

Red Gri­otte mar­ble:

This par­tic­u­lar mar­ble received its name from the Morel­lo cher­ry, which is called Gri­otte in French and has an incom­pa­ra­bly intense red col­or.
Often the red Gri­otte con­tains numer­ous goni­atite fos­sil shells filled with white cal­cite, then it is called oeil de per­drix” (par­tridge eye).

Gri­otte red was one of King Louis XIV’s favorite mar­bles and was exten­sive­ly used in the roy­al apart­ments in the 18th cen­tu­ry. This won­der­ful red stone was used, for exam­ple, in the pro­duc­tion of sculp­tures, mag­nif­i­cent clocks, and for the inte­ri­or dec­o­ra­tion of church­es, cas­tles, and palaces, such as in the Hôtel de Cassi­ni (1768), where the din­ing room was dec­o­rat­ed with Gri­otte mar­ble. Many of the fire­places in the Palace of Ver­sailles were also ordered from red Gri­otte mar­ble by Louis XIV. For Louis XV’s cab­i­net, a fire­place with­out bronzes from this mar­ble was ordered ear­ly on, which can still be seen today.

We find many oth­er fire­places made of red Gri­otte mar­ble, most­ly with gilt bronzes, in Louis XVI’s wardrobe cab­i­net, in the study, in the coun­cil cham­ber, as well as in the apart­ments of Marie-Antoinette and Madame Vic­toire, in the Château de Fontainebleau, and in the Lou­vre, to name just a few. At the begin­ning of the 19th cen­tu­ry, the Arc de Tri­om­phe du Car­rousel was made from this mar­ble on the orders of Napoléon Bona­parte in 1809, which was intend­ed to give it a par­tic­u­lar­ly impos­ing appear­ance.
Also in the Opéra Gar­nier in Paris, we find in the Grand Foy­er a mon­u­men­tal fire­place made of this won­der­ful red mar­ble.

The main quar­ries are locat­ed in the regions of Caunes-Min­er­vois and Félines-Min­er­vois, north­east of Car­cas­sonne. Exploit­ed already in antiq­ui­ty, they were redis­cov­ered around 1615 by the Ital­ian sculp­tors Ste­fano Sor­mano and Antoine Lig­nani, who began trad­ing Canes mar­bles in exchange for white Car­rara mar­ble. The famous sculp­tor Berni­ni drew the king’s atten­tion to these quar­ries, Claude-Félix Tar­lé ordered them to be exploit­ed for the court, and then they were declared Roy­al Quar­ries” in 1692.

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Majestic Salon Commode by Pierre Roussel H: 89 cm, W: 150 cm, D: 63,5 cm
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