Cabinet-maker and bronze caster
Sumptuous Louis XVI style secretary
Height : 130 cm (51 in.) ; Width : 74 cm (29 in.) ; Depth : 40 cm (15 3/4 in.)
Exceptional Louis XVI style upright secretary, made in Mahogany and Elm burl veneer. The eared rectangular « Brocatelle d’Espagne » marble top above a fall-front panel opening onto an aventurine, mother of pearl and lacquer decorated ebony interior. The front and sides ornamented with Japan lacquer panels decorated with landscape and figural scenes. The angles set with flower-filled basket caryatids, above a shaped apron fitted with a drawer, resting on tapering fluted legs joined by a pierced loop stretcher and four top feet.
This upright secretary is characteristic of the late 19th century production of Beurdeley which specialized in producing furniture and objects inspired by the Louis XVI models in the Garde-meuble national. It borrows directly from the work of Adam Weisweiler, who made around 1790 a similar cabinet, now exhibited at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art. Two apparently examples of this model, with different lacquer panels were sold at Christie’s, London, in March 2008 and July 2011.
In 1875, Alfred-Emmanuel Beurdeley (1847-1919) was at first assistant to and later succeeded his father Louis-Auguste Beurdeley, one of the main cabinet-makers of the Second Empire, specializing in XVIIIth century furniture. Louis-Auguste was the star whenever he exhibited and was “most favored by the royal and imperial families”. Although he produced the same kind of works of art as his father, Alfred Beurdeley was also a very well-known art collector and a skilled bronze sculptor. With Dasson, Grohé, Sauvresy and Fourdinois, the most famous artists of the period, he took part in the 1878 Universal Exhibition and won the gold medal. Crowned with glory he went so far as to open a shop in New York. His participation in the 1883 Amsterdam Universal Exhibition drew considerable attention to his work and “Alfred Beurdeley, Fabricant de bronzes d’art” was then awarded the Ordre National de la Legion d’Honneur, France’s highest official mark of recognition. He thus won the respect of both the government and contemporary art critics. His last presentation was during the 1889 Universal and International Exhibition, when the director of the Exhibition wrote in his report : “The talent of Mr Beurdeley is self evident when one inspects his furniture.”