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L. Messagé

Designer

(1842-1901)

J.-E. Zwiener

Cabinet-maker

(active from 1880 to 1895)

Exceptional pair of commodes

France

Circa 1885

Height : 85 cm (33 1/2 in.) ; Width : 114 cm (44 3/4 in.) ; Depth : 58 cm (22 3/4 in.)

An exceptional pair of Louis XV style bombé commodes, made in amaranth and tinted sycamore ; each topped with « Brèche d’Alep » marble over two form drawers decorated with floral lemonwood marquetry within a scrolling gilt acanthus banded bronze cartouche form. Raised on four cabriole legs with foliate swag mounts, ending in ormolu scrolled foliate sabots.

Biography

Joseph-Emmanuel Zwiener was born in Germany in 1849. In 1880 he set up his extensive workshops in rue de la Roquette in Paris where he created many original pieces of furniture. He immitated practically every style, ranging from “Boulle” to “Louis XVI” and including extraordinary personal interpretations of the ‘’exhuberent’’ Louis XV style. His unique style won Zwiener the gold medal at the 1882 exhibition of the Union Centrale des Arts Décoratifs in Paris. One of the judges, René Ménard, remarked that « if Mr. Zwiener had limited himself to literal reproductions, he wouldn’t have attracted the attention of the jury so strongly. But alongside his very skillful copies, he has shown us works inspired by his own imagination ». He then participated in the 1889 Universal Exhibition, held in Paris, and was awarded the gold medal for his remarkable copy of that most famous piece of furniture, Louis XV’s desk. The catalogue of the exhibition included a wonderful elegy qualifying the work as perfect : « No criticism what-so-ever could be made ». As that other famous cabinet-maker François Linke (1855-1946), Zwiener had most of his bronzes modelled by Léon Messagé (1842-1901) whose work was considered as being of the best possible quality. Zwiener was active until 1895, when Jean-Henri Jansen (1854-1928) purchased his business and stock. Operating under the name of “Zwiener Jansen Successeur”, Jansen continued to faithfully produce Zwiener’s creations, using the original models and lavishing the utmost care on these “meubles de luxe”.

Bibliography

Catalogue de l’Exposition Universelle, Paris, 1889.

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