ميزون بوردلي

An Important Louis XVI Style Gilt-Bronze Mounted Mahogany Commode

فرنسا، حوالي عام 1880.


An Important Louis XVI Style Gilt-Bronze Mounted Mahogany Commode, By Emmanuel-Alfred (dit Alfred II) Beurdeley (1847-1919). Paris. The original white...


Height: 104 cm (41 in)
Width: 164 cm (65 in)
Depth: 51 cm (21 in)
REF NO : B76557


An Important Louis XVI Style Gilt-Bronze Mounted Mahogany Commode, By Emmanuel-Alfred (dit Alfred II) Beurdeley (1847-1919). Paris.

The original white marble top has a stepped front and cavetto moulded edge. The frieze is fitted with three drawers beneath and egg-and-dart rim. Each drawer is applied with a gilt-bronze mount of scrolled sunflowers. The central door is applied with a sculptural gilt-bronze mount of an infant bacchus holding aloft a basket of flowers and issuing scrolled paterae wrapped in laurel branches.


فرنسا، حوالي عام 1880.

This rare and important commode is almost certainly a unique piece which belonged to the Beurdeley family. It is photographed in the large living room of Emmanuel Alfred Beurdeley’s mansion, on rue de Clichy in Paris, around 1910 (see Camille Mestdagh, L’Ameublement d’art français 1850-1900, Les éditions de l’Amateur, Paris, 2010, p. 17, fig. 13).

The commode photographed in the large living room of Emmanuel Alfred Beurdeley’s mansion, on rue de Clichy in Paris, around 1910 (photograph credit: Tissier aîné, Paris © Camille Mestdagh).

This opulent commode or ‘meuble à hauteur’ is fronted by a large gilt-bronze mounting of a faun-like putto holding atop his head a basket of fruit. ‘Une figure de faune et de branchages en arabesque’, his legs transform into acanthus leaves, representing immortality, and he is encircled by laurel branches, which symbolise victory and Apollo’s triumph. It is not known from where Beurdeley took this faun like grotesque. It is possible he was inspired by the work of the renaissance Italian engraver Marco Dente (1515–1527) and his followers. That the cherubic figure is turning into foliage is both an ornamental construct and alludes to classical transformation myths. The acanthus, and emphasis on natural history is Roman in inspiration, and Marco Dente’s engravings parallelled the glory of renaissance Rome with that of ancient Rome. There is a drawing after Marco Dente of a ‘Grotesque with male figure with lower body and head of acanthus scrolls’ in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum (Accession Number: 27.23.89).

An engraving entitled ‘Grotesque with male figure with lower body and head of acanthus scrolls’, after Marco Dente circa 1515–27 (MET Museum Accession Number: 27.23.89 / Public Domain).

This commode is designed in the Louis XVI style, which was the preferred style of Alfred II Beurdeley, who in his designs for contemporary furniture inspired by historical models favoured neoclassicism over, for example, the rococo. The shape and details are reminiscent of the work of the great ébéniste Adam Weisweiler who made furniture in the 1770 and 80s for Louis XVI’s court, which was much admired for being richly made and yet, elegantly restrained.



Circa 1880.




Mahogany and Gilt-Bronze



ميزون بوردلي
Portrait of Emmanuel-Alfred (dit Alfred II) Beurdeley (1847-1919)

Emmanuel-Alfred (dit Alfred II) Beurdeley (1847-1919)

The Beurdeley family were a flourishing dynasty of three generations of fine quality cabinetmakers working from 1818 to 1895. The firm was particularly well known for its exceptional metalwork, most commonly basing their designs on important eighteenth century examples. Their mercurial gilding and hand chasing are often of such a high standard that it is difficult to distinguish them from late eighteenth century work.

The founder of the dynasty Jean Beurdeley (1772-1853) was a Burgundian craftsman conscripted into the Napoleonic army. After hostilities ended in 1815 he settled in Paris opening a shop for curiosités and working as a latter day marchand mercier. Initially based on the rue Saint-Honoré, in 1840 Beurdeley moved to the famous Hanover Pavilion situated on the corner of rue Louis-Legrand and boulevard des Italiens, and the business was run by his only surviving son, Louis-Auguste-Alfred (dit Alfred I) Beurdeley (1808-1882). This successful business, which had numerous official commissions including in 1853 the marriage coffer for the Empress Eugénie, was continued by Alfred I’s son, Emmanuel-Alfred (dit Alfred II) Beurdeley (1847-1919).

The success and reputation of the firm continued under Alfred II who took over from his father in 1875 and won a gold medal at the 1878 Paris Exposition Universelle. Following on from this glory, he went on to open a shop in New York. His participation in the 1883 Amsterdam Universal Exhibition drew even further attention to his work, and possibly as a result he was awarded the Ordre National de la Légion d’Honneur, France’s highest official mark of recognition. Beurdeley’s most magnificent display was at the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893 when they advertised themselves as ‘makers of furniture and decorative bronzes in the antique styles’ from ‘French Historic Castles’. Centerstage, surrounded by an impressive selection of wares was Beurdeley’s magnificent replica of the ‘Bureau du Roi’, perhaps the most famous piece of furniture ever made.

Beurdeley received substantial commissions for the American titans of the Gilded Age and his increasing popularity with America’s industrialists was underscored by his participation in the Chicago World’s Fair. Beurdeley supplied various objects and furnishings for the renovation of The Cornelius Vanderbilt II Mansion, described as an ‘early French Renaissance style château’, at the northwest corner of West 57th Street and 5th Avenue in New York, including a bronze-mounted marble fire surround which had been exhibited in Chicago. Probably under the direction of interior decorator Jules Allard & Fils, Beurdeley executed numerous bronze and marble objects for Cornelius Vanderbilt’s Newport ‘cottage’, The Breakers (see in C. Mestdagh, op. cit., pp. 128-123).

Beurdeley was renowned for making exquisite reproductions of celebrated pieces by the master makers of the Ancien Régime. The quality of the firm’s reproductions is such that they are often mistaken for period originals and Beurdeley predominantly owed its considerable commercial success to supplying furniture in the ‘French Royal Styles’ for the 19th century collecting elite. A masterpiece of French furniture might remain out of reach in a noble or museum collection, but a 19th century collector visiting exhibits such as the 1865 Musée Retrospectif could commission an exquisitely crafted replica and thus show their sophisticated taste. In the 19th century, commissioning furniture in this way was a legitimate antiquarian interest which demonstrated an appreciation for, and understanding of, the historical importance of art, a trend notably championed by 4th Marquess of Hertford, founder of the Wallace Collection. The copies were not designed to deceive, as nearly all works were prominently marked by Beurdeley, whose genius captured the true essence of the original. Throughout their history Beurdeley also innovated by employing their considerable technical and artistic abilities to create new designs or meld elements of those so greatly admired in the 18th century. Alfred II created new designs of his own which are inspired by and indebted to the Louis XV and Louis XVI styles, but credited as entirely his own: ‘all designed according to the imagination of the manufacturer, his personal vision of styles and not with the aim of imitation. You should know that Mr. Beurdeley does not copy old models as so many others do; but he creates in a given style’ (Bergerat Emile, « Art Industriel, L’ébénisterie », Les chefs d’œuvre d’art à l’Exposition Universelle, Paris, 1878).

The company’s workshops finally closed in 1895 and Beurdeley’s stock was sold over a number of auctions conducted by Galerie Georges Petit of Paris. Two catalogues of the collection were published in 1895 and sales were held between 6-8 March and again on 27-28 May.

The originality and the incredible quality of Beurdeley’s work make them pre-eminent amongst Parisian makers of meubles de luxe. In addition to various works held by museums and historic collections, over the past twenty years academic research and an appreciation for the superb quality of their furniture and works of art has stimulated a growth in demand for pieces by Beurdeley.

Ledoux – Lebard, Denise. Les Ébénistes du XIXe siècle, Les Editions de L’Amateur, (Paris), 1984; pp. 75-82.

Mestdagh, Camille & Lécoules, Pierre. L’Ameublement d’Art Français, 1850-1900, Les Editions de L’Amateur, (Paris), 2010; pp.262-276.

Meyer, Jonathan. Great Exhibitions – London, New York, Paris, Philadelphia, 1851-1900, Antique Collectors’ Club, (Woodbridge, UK), 1984 ; pps. 175, 247, 269, 270, 290, 298.




Emmanuel Alfred Beurdeley (1847-1919) at the Beurdeley Hôtel Particulier, 79 rue de Clichy, Paris.
Collection Pierre Lecoules, Paris.





Camille Mestdagh, L’Ameublement d’art français 1850-1900, Les éditions de l’Amateur, Paris, 2010, p. 17, fig. 13.


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