Roux Et Brunet

BIOGRAPHY

Roux and Brunet were a prominent Parisian firm of fine furniture during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, who began to operate under this name from 1889.

Frederic and Alexandre Roux were brothers who established successful furniture firms in Paris and New York. The American firm was established in 1837 by Alexandre, while his brother opened the Parisian firm in 1839. Each business became highly successful, and by the 1850s the New York firm employed 120 craftsmen and worked using steam power. For some years Frederic worked with his brother in New York under the name of A et F Roux, before returning to Paris in 1855-1856 and purchasing the established firm of Hippolyte-Edme Pretot. The Parisian firm won several medals, including a gold medal at the Exposition Universelle in 1867. They also sold pieces to aristocratic clients such as a Boulle table purchased by Emperor Napoleon III at the 1867 Exposition Universelle for the Palais de l’Elysee.

From 1889 the French firm was joined by Eugene Brunet, who was already a successful ébéniste of high-quality Parisian furniture. They established themselves at 20 rue de la Perle under the name of Roux Et Brunet. The 1889 Exposition Universelle saw a shift for the firm from Louis XIV, Louis XVI and Empire styles towards Louis XV Style with Boulle and Riesener influences; in partnership with Brunet, the Louis XV Style was more commonly used by the firm and echoed the works of Joseph-Emmanuel Zwiener and Francois Linke. Roux Et Brunet commissioned Linke to make furniture for them when he first arrived in Paris and, employed the sculptor Leon Message for many designs.

Brunet went on to manage the business alone and was particularly well known for the superb quality of his gilt-bronze mounts, which were often designed by Messagé, who Linke and Zwiener also employed for their bronze mounts. Brunet purchased from the celebrated cabinetmakers of the period such as Linke and Zwiener. Some 40 folders exist containing drawings and watercolours of furniture designs by Brunet from the Second Empire to the 1920s – many of which recall the work of Linke and display a clear Zwiener and Messagé influence.

The connection between Brunet and Linke goes even further: in November 1896 Linke purchased 13 lots from a sale of the effects of Roux Et Brunet for 2,374 francs, almost certainly to have the right to use patterns for bronze casting. The crab-like acanthus that is now seen almost as a guarantee of Linke’s work was most likely purchased with lot 155, a “bureau Louis XV, rocaille a poignée coquille”. They both purchased from each other, and employed Messagé for their gilt-bronze mounts. This has resulted in some pieces being wrongly attributed to Linke when they are in fact by Brunet, most likely due to the inclusion of this crab-like acanthus.

Bibliography:
Ledoux-Lebard, Denise. Les Ebénistes du XIX siècle, Les Editions de l'Amateur, (Paris), 1984.
Mestdagh, Camille & Lécoules, Pierre. L'Ameublement d'Art Français, 1850-1900, Les Editions de L'Amateur, (Paris), 2010.
Payne, Christopher. Paris Furniture: The Luxury Market of the 19th Century, Editions Monelle Hayot (Saint-Remy-en-l'Eau), 2018.
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