François Linke (1855 - 1946)
François Linke (1855 - 1946)
An Important Pair of Louis XV Style Gilt Bronze Mounted Marble Top Commodes
FRANCE, Circa 1891
REF No. B66538
Signed Linke to the right-hand espagnolettes, the locks stamped L. Vasseur/Paris. The bronze mounts stamped to the reverse ‘FL’.
Width :133 cm
Depth :59 cm
Linke Index Number: 245.
Linke Title: Commode Louis XV à trois tiroirs avec marquetery violette
The original design for this model of commode started out as an early example of the collaboration between Linke and Leon Message, inspired by a smaller commode of similar spirit as shown in Message's personal sketchbook (illus. C. Payne, Linke, pl. 85). However, the Blue Daybook drawing shows the fully developed commode with the distinctive winged foliate handles that Message favoured. It might be assumed that this device is Message's idea of an amusing play on his own family name, the wings being the attributes of Mercury the messenger.
This model of commode was produced in two sizes and in several variations. Besides this parquetry version a bulrush marquetry model and a plain veneered model were offered. The bulrush version is illustrated in: Adrian Alan, Vol V, p.60-61.
He was born in 1855 in the small village of Pankraz, in what is now the Czech Republic. Records show that Linke served an apprenticeship with the master cabinetmaker Neumann, then in 1875 at the age of 20 he arrived in Paris where he lived until he died in 1946.
It is known that the fledgling Linke workshops were active in Paris in the Faubourg St. Antoine as early as 1881, and during this time he supplied furniture for other more established makers such as Jansen and Krieger.
The quality of Linke's craftsmanship was unsurpassed by any of his contemporaries and reached its peak with his spectacular stand at the Paris Exposition Universelle in 1900, where his Grand Bureau took the gold medal. He gambled his fortune and reputation on this stand, exhibiting several breath-taking items of furniture with sculptural mounts of the most exceptional quality and proportion. His gamble worked and his reputation was established to such an extent that Linke continued to be the pre-eminent furniture house in Paris until the Second World War.
As the Art Journal reported in 1900 on Linke's stand:
The work of M. Linke ... was an example of what can be done by seeking inspiration amongst the classic examples of Louis XV and XVI without in any great sense copying these great works. M. Linke's work was original in the true sense of the word, and as such commended itself to the intelligent seeker after the really artistic things of the Exhibition. Wonderful talent was employed in producing the magnificent pieces of furniture displayed....
The formation of Linke's distinctive style was made possible by his collaboration with the sculptor Léon Messagé.
Together Linke and Messagé designed furniture for Linke's 1900 exhibition stand, with exuberant allegorical figures cast in high relief, that exemplified Linke's ability to seamlessly merge the different mediums of wood carving, bronze and marquetry into a dynamic unified whole.
Today Linke is best known for the exceptionally high quality of his work, as well as his individualism and inventiveness. All of his work has the finest, most lavish mounts, very often applied to comparatively simple carcasses of quarter veneered kingwood or tulipwood. The technical brilliance of his work and the artistic change that it represented were never to be repeated.
Adrian Alan Ltd, Fine English & Continental Furniture & Works of Art, Vol. V, (Cambridge, UK), 2006; p.60 - 61.