François Linke (1855 - 1946)
François Linke (1855 - 1946)
A Very Fine And Rare Near Pair Of Louis XV Style Étagère Tables
FRANCE, Circa 1900
REF No. B70192
The gilt-bronze mounts signed 'F.Linke'. Linke Index No. 610.
Width :92 cm | 36¹/₄ in
Depth :54 cm | 21¹/₄ in
Each table has a detachable twin handled glass tray top resting on four corner supports finely cast as mermen. The parquetry lower tier has gilt-bronze carrying handles and a frieze characteristically mounted with a leaf-clasped scallop shell. Each étagère stands on gilt-bronze mounted slender cabriole legs and sabots.
This model of étagère table can be found in Linke's archives as index No. 610. It is a variation on the famous étagère table shown at the 1900 Paris Exposition Universelle. The 1900 Exhibition table employed identical mermen supports and a leaf-clasped scallop shell to the frieze as the present examples, but included a hipped 'X'-form stretcher (see page 122, pl. 138 and pages 143 & 145, in Christopher Payne 'François Linke, 1855-1946, The Belle Époque of French Furniture').
Linke was to produce a number of different variations of this popular tea table exhibiting examples at both the 1902 and 1905 Salon des Industries du Mobilier in Paris. A similar parquetry étagère, with figural rather than foliate chutes was exhibited at St. Louis in 1904 and again at Liege in 1905 (see Christopher Payne pages 94 & 95, pls. 105 and 106 and page 117, pls. 131 & 132).
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.
Meyer, Jonathan, Great Exhibitions, Antique Collectors' club, (Woodbridge, UK), 2006; p. 298 - 300.
Ledoux-Lebard,Denise, Les Ébénistes du XIX siècle, Les Editions de l'Amateur, (Paris); pps 439-43.