This bureau plat by Jean-François Leleu exemplifies the Neoclassical style favored by elite French patrons at the end of the eighteenth century. Jean-François Leleu (1729–1807) was trained, alongside his rival Jean-Henri Riesener, in the workshop of Jean-François Oeben. Leleu became a master ébéniste in 1764 and enjoyed the patronage of wealthy aristocrats, including the Prince de Condé, Louis-Joseph de Bourbon. Similar to the pieces produced for the prince de Condé’s Palais-Bourbon, this table reflects the strong, masculine Neoclassical forms favored by Leleu, evidenced by the tapering architectural legs and gilt-bronze ornaments. A similar writing table is rendered in the 1808 portrait of Charles Maurice Talleyrand by François Gérard also in the museum’s collection (2012.348).
References: Yannick Chastang. Paintings in Wood: French Marquetry Furniture. London: The Wallace Collection, 2001.
Kahtyrn Calley Galitz, "François Gérard: Portraiture, Scandal and the Art of Power in Napoleonic France," The Metropolitan Musuem of Art Bulletin, LXXI: 1 (Summer 2013), 5–48.
Inscription: Written under central drawer: John Layton repaired/ April 3; Written beneath writing slide: Spencer
W. Angerstein, Esq. ; Baroness Nellie Lisa Helles Burton (until 1954; sale, Christie's, London, April 29, 1954, lot 113) ; Viscount Ednam (until 1958; sale, Sotheby's, London, May 16, 1958, lot 145) ; Mr. and Mrs. Charles Wrightsman , New York (until 1972; to MMA)
Artist: Jean Henri Riesener (French, Gladebeck, near Hessen 1734–1806 Paris)Date: 1781Medium: Oak veneered with mahogany and marquetry of bois satiné, sycamore, holly, ebonized holly fillets, and bayberry, the top with an amaranth border; gilt-bronze mounts; mirror glass; iron and brass fittings; green velvet (not original)Accession: 49.7.117On view in:Gallery 546