An Exceptionally Rare and Important Louis XV Style Gilt-Bronze Mounted Marquetry Inlaid Centre Table by François Linke, the Mounts Designed by Léon Messagé.
Linke Index No. 930.
Signed ‘Linke’ to the upper bronze moulding.
Stamped ‘FL’ to the reverse of the bronze mounts.
Stamped to the carcass ‘Made in France’.
Of exhibition quality this magnificent table has a fine marquetry inlaid top and sumptuous gilt-bronze mounts, designed and sculpted by Léon Messagé. The shaped gilt-bronze mounted serpentine top is finely inlaid with scrolling bois de bout floral marquetry, above an undulating frieze set to the front with a long drawer and centred by a female mask, the sides are mounted with exuberant scallop-shell mounts and the angles with lively and emotive female espagnolettes emblematic of Modestie and Coquetterie; the table is raised on cabriole legs terminating in shell-capped scrolled sabots.
A rare example in Linke’s oeuvre, the table is a variation of a larger example index number 930, described by Linke as modèle riche, which included an elaborate stretcher with banner-bearing cherubs based on Léon Messagé’s celebrated sculptural group ‘La Source’ (illustrated C. Payne, François Linke: The Belle Epoque of French Furniture, Woodbridge, 2003; p.172, Pl. 186). Linke workshop’s cliché of the larger modèle riche is illustrated in C. Payne, François Linke: The Belle Epoque of French Furniture, Woodbridge, 2003; p.483.
The exceptional sculptural mounts are characteristic of the very finest 19th Century furniture created through François Linke and Léon Messagé’s collaboration. Messagé’s enhanced Louis XV Rococo style embraces the asymmetrical lines of designers such as J.A. Meissonnier, to create lively and emotive figures linked by sinuous encadrement, but cleverly modernised to reflect the surge of popularity of the Art Nouveau.
The female busts, referred to by Linke as Coquetterie et Modestie, although reminiscent of the paintings of François Boucher and Flaconet have moved on in their design from the classical espagnolette, introduced by Charles Cressent in the 18th century, to become something new and vital.
Designed for the celebrated ‘Commode coquille: Coquetterie et Modestie’ (index 559), presented at his award-winning stand at the 1900 Exposition Universelle in Paris, (C. Payne, François Linke: The Belle Epoque of French Furniture, Woodbridge, 2003; p.142-144, pl. 151), Linke was obliged to purchase their design at a tremendous cost from Messagé. First castings began in 1897 and they proved fruitful for Linke, becoming a favourite mount, repurposed by Linke for use on a number of important designs.
The larger version of the current table was intended to be displayed en suite with the commode but was not ready in time for the exhibition. It was first exhibited at the Salon des Industries du Mobilier in 1902, and again in Liège in 1905 (C. Payne, François Linke: The Belle Epoque of French Furniture, Woodbridge, 2003; p. 170-173).
Available in three sizes, 132 cm x 72 cm, 138 x 75 cm and an even larger version (index no. 965) the design proved popular with Linke’s clientele, which included commissions supplied to Elias Meyer in 1909 (Illustrated C. Payne; p.243, pl. 258), Madame d’Astoreca in 1910, Antonio Devoto in 1913 and for King Fuad I’s study at Ras al-Tin, Alexandria, Egypt in the 1920s , (Illustrated C. Payne; p.289, pl. 300).