Fine Louis XIV / Regence ormolu-mounted and kingwood marquetry chest of drawers, en sarcophage. The rectangular shaped and moulded marquetry top of this commode, above three ranks of drawers mounted with foliate bronzes, on recessed supports extended in small cabriole feet joined together by a serpentine-shaped apron, and terminating in scrolling sabots. Stamped Étienne Doirat (circa 1675 - 25 June 1732). End of Louis XIV period furniture, circa 1710 - 1715.
Among the so-called commodes en tombeau which were in vogue during the Regence period, different shapes were used. The classical commode en Tombeau with three ranks of drawers is thus different from the one - à pont - or the one, scarcer, en sarcophage. Our commode has the particularity to show its original marquetry top and is stamped under the top, on the left support. Its originality lies in its specific shape, characterised by a recess of the lower part, that brings out the tightening downwards. That tightening is similar to the one of a desk illustrated by Gilles-Marie Oppenordt's drawings, stored at the Cooper Union Museum of New-York and the one of a project attributed to André-Charles Boulle, stored at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris. The cabinet-makers who realised such pieces of furniture were Boulle, Cressent, Delaitre, Doirat, Gérard or Poitou.
Etienne Doirat has the distinction of being the only important ébéniste of the Régence who stamped his work, there being no stamped pieces by Cressent or Gaudreaus recorded. Thus the presence of a stamp facilitates the definition of a homogeneous output; this consisted almost entirely of commodes in palisander with trellis parquetry. Less frequently Doirat used amaranth and kingwood. The carcases of his furniture, generally fairly coarse, are in deal with walnut drawers. The repertory of gilt-bronze mounts is almost always identical, facilitating the attribution of a number of unstamped pieces: the same corner mounts in the form of wreathed female heads, festooned lambrequins and sphinx escutcheons and so on. The inventory taken after his death in 1732, published by M. Augarde, reveals that Doirat also produced types of furniture other than commodes: there are descriptions of bureaux plats, ebonized or in amaranth, bookcases with door-grills, bureaux called secrétaires (secrétaires en pente) in amaranth, night-tables and encoignures, in all 200 varied pieces, finished or incomplete, of which 40 were veneered, including 21 in palisander, 11 in amaranth and four in kingwood. All the commodes either already had marble tops or were designed to take them, rather than marquetry tops.
The name of Gaudreaus appears among Doirat's debtors. He was certainly overburdened with commissions in his position of ébéniste to the Crown, and Doirat must have worked for him. Finally, the inventory reveals an interesting detail: 100 livres weight of imperfect lead casts used for garnitures for commodes and other pieces of furniture... and then 250 livres of mounts, either chased or unchased, repaired for garnitures for commodes and other pieces. Here is proof that Doirat kept exclusive control of his bronze casts, retaining not only the lead models but the unchased mounts and finished examples ready to be applied to the furniture. One is therefore on stronger ground when attributing certain pieces on the basis of the mounts. At the same time the inventory mentions only - bronzes en couleur - (varnished) and not in gilt-bronze.
Doirat, born circa 1675, was married in 1704 while he was living in the Grand-Rue du Faubourg Saint-Antoine. He resided in this quarter all his life, settling in turn in the rue Saint-Marguerite in 1711, and the Grand-Rue again in about 1720, in a house under the sign of la Croix Rouge. In 1726 he installed his workshop in the Cour de la Contrescarpe-des-Fossées-de-la-Bastille just within the Faubourg Saint-Antoine, in lodgings overlooking the trenches around the Bastille. His affairs would seem to have prospered, for in 1720 he provided his daughter Madeleine with a large dowry (2,500 livres). Moreover, in 1731 he leased premises in the rue Saint-Honoré opposite the church of Saint-Roch, in order, no doubt, to sell his furniture. This quarter was considered a fashionable address by financiers and all retailers of luxury goods were established here. In 1732 Doirat was certainly a fashionable ébéniste. The inventory made on his death describes numerous pieces of furniture either completed or under construction and stocks of wood, and at-least eleven work-benches.
His work was continued by his son-in-law, Louis-Simon Painsun (born 1700, died before 1748), who used the stamp L.S.P. Little is known of L.S.P.'s carreer: son of François Painsun, who was a master ébéniste living in the rue Saint-Nicolas in the Faubourg Saint-Antoine in 1727, Louis-Simon Painsun married Doirat's daughter in 1720 and probably worked with his father-in-law. On Doirat's death in 1732 Louis-Simon's father took over the lease and all the stock of Doirat's shop in the rue Saint-Honoré. It is likely that Louis-Simon took over the responsablity for the business.
Really good condition
Le Mobilier Français du XVIIIème siècle by Pierre Kjellberg, Les Éditions de l'Amateur - 2002. Les Ebénistes du XVIIIème siècle, Comte François de Salverte, F. de Nobele, Paris - 1962. L'Art et la Manière des Maîtres Ebénistes Français au XVIIème siècle, Jean Nicolay, Editions Pygmalion - 1976. Le Style Régence, Calin Demetrescu, Les Éditions de l'Amateur - 2003. Les Commodes Tombeaux, L'Estampille, l'Objet d'Art, pages 50 à 65, N° 260, Juillet - Août 1992.