A Table by Jean-Pierre Latz for Sceaux

Jean-Pierre Latz (1691-1754)
Transformable Desk
Known as "table à la Bourgogne",
or "Harlequin Table", Paris about 1755
Marquetry of amaranth, rose wood and sycamore,
gilt wood and bronze - 76 x 79 x 49 cm
Sceaux, Musée de l’Ile-de-France
Photo : Christie’s

15/1/13 - Acquisition - Sceaux, Musée de l’Ile-de-France - The château in Sceaux has managed to recover yet another piece of furniture : a table "à la Bourgogne" - known as Harlequin Table - stamped Jean-Pierre Latz, acquired for $278,500 at a Christie’s auction on 24 October 2012 in New York.
It is decorated with a "trophy" of garden tools surrounded by a flower garland inside a cartridge ; this is a rare motif in the cabinetmaker’s production and recalls somewhat the work of Gilles Demarteau, the author of a collection of Plusieurs Trophées dessinées et gravées. The inside of the table also conceals marquetry work in end grain displaying plant scrolls. Finally, it holds gilt bronze work, probably produced by Latz’s workshop.
The table transforms itself into a desk thanks to the front part which folds down to form a flat writing surface, while the back, when standing, gives acces to a unit made up of seven drawers.

This piece of furniture was perhaps commissioned by Marie-Victoire Sophie de Noailles, Duchess of Penthièvre, and in any case, appears in the inventory after her death which lists in her boudoir : "a small secretaire in bois des Indes with flowers, having two and half feet length of ornaments in gilt copper and bronze, 200 pounds". Later, it appears in the inventory made after the death of the Duc of Penthièvre, the son of Madame de Noailles, in 1793, and was located in the apartments on the first floor of the château in Sceaux, more precisely in the cabinet room : "a table serving as a desk in marquetry with gardening "trophies", with its ornaments and gilt copper feet with inkwell, powder case and silver sponge holder...425 pounds" [1]. These apartments were made up of two ante-chambers, one bedroom and one cabinet room. The wealth of the furnishings there suggests that they were occupied either by the duke himself, his daughter the Duchess of Orleans or else his daughter-in-law the Princess of Lamballe.

Born in Cologne in 1691, Jean-Pierre Latz came to Paris in 1719 and was appointed privileged cabinet maker to the king in 1741, enabling him to stamp his name without having to go through a master. Like Charles Cressent, Latz produced certain bronzes for his furniture pieces, causing many conflicts with the founders.
He worked on several occasions for the Penthièvre family ; notably he delivered two pairs of corner pieces for the duke, one for the hôtel de Toulouse [2], the other for the château d’Anet [3]. There are two other known tables "à la Bourgogne" produced by Latz ; one is in the collection of James A. de Rothschild at Waddesdon Manor and the other is in an English private collection.
Very few of the furniture pieces produced by Latz have a French provenance ; the cabinet maker in fact received many of his commissions from the courts in Dresden and Berlin and also provided furniture to Madame Infante, for the Palazzo Colorno in Parma.

Version française

Bénédicte Bonnet Saint-Georges, vendredi 18 janvier 2013


[1] Arch. Nat., MC XXXV, 17 June 1793, folio 469.

[2] These two corner pieces were handed down to his grandson Louis-Philippe at the château d’Eu then were sold by Christie’s in Monaco on 11 December 1999 after having been in the collection of Akram Ojjeh.

[3] These two pieces came up for auction at Sotheby’s Monaco on 14 June 1981.

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