A Louis XV Style Gilt-Bronze Mounted Bureau de Dame
A Louis XV Style Gilt-Bronze Mounted Bureau de Dame, by François Linke. Signed to the bronze mount ‘F.Linke’. Linke Index Number 1650. This...
DimensionsHeight: 92 cm (37 in)
Width: 63 cm (25 in)
Depth: 42 cm (17 in)
A Louis XV Style Gilt-Bronze Mounted Bureau de Dame, by François Linke.
Signed to the bronze mount ‘F.Linke’.
Linke Index Number 1650.
This very fine and unusual bureau de dame has a shaped top above a fall-front centred by a finally cast foliate escutchon, opening to a fitted interior with two small drawers and a tooled red leather writing surface. The bureau has a shaped apron enlivened with boxwood stringing and is raised on four slender cabriolet legs headed by unusual gilt-bronze acanthus clasps and terminating in scrolled sabots.
The bureau de dame (Linke index No.1650), embodies the hallmarks of Linke’s oeuvre: the natural beauty of exotic woods alongside luxuriously chiselled gilt-bronze mounts. The smart design of this lot possibly points to the assistance of the sculptor Léon Messagé who provided Linke with original sketches for furniture pieces and gilt-bronze mounts. Here, the disposition of the veneers creates interesting visual effects and the gilt-bronze mounts enjoy a dual function, both as a subtle framing tool and a key element within the overall design. The central rocaille mount on the fall-front door appears to have been used for other Linke furniture pieces, for example on the front of a commode index no. 620 (C. Payne, François Linke, 1855-1946 – The Belle Epoque of French Furniture, Woodbridge, 2003, p. 417).
French, circa 1900.
Signed to the bronze mount ‘F.Linke’.
François Linke (1855 – 1946) was the most important Parisian cabinet maker of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and possibly the most sought after cabinet maker of his period.
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 breathtaking 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. The technical brilliance of his work and the artistic change that it represented were never to be repeated.
Payne, Christopher. François Linke, (1855 – 1946), The Belle Époque of French Furniture, Antique Collectors’ Club, (Woodbridge, UK), 2003.
Meyer, Jonathan. Great Exhibitions – London, New York, Paris, Philadelphia, 1851-1900, Antique Collectors’ Club, (Woodbridge, UK), 2006; pp. 298 – 300.
Ledoux – Lebard, Denise. Les Ébénistes du XIXe siècle, Les Editions de l’Amateur, (Paris), 1984; pp. 439-43.
Revue Artistique & Industrielle, (Paris), July-August 1900.
Coral Thomsen, D. (ed), The Paris Exhibition 1900, The Art Journal, 1901; p.341.