Art/ Collection/ Art Object
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Side table (commode en console)

Maker:
Bernard II van Risenburgh (ca. 1696–ca. 1767)
Date:
ca. 1755–60
Culture:
French, Paris
Medium:
Oak and pine lacquered black and veneered with Japanese black and gold lacquer; gilt-bronze mounts; Sarrancolin marble top
Dimensions:
H. 35-1/2 in. (90.2 cm.), W. 37-1/2 in. (95.3 cm.), D. 21 in. (53.3 cm.)
Classification:
Woodwork-Furniture
Credit Line:
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Wrightsman, 1976
Accession Number:
1976.155.101
Not on view
Fitted with one drawer in its frieze, this sophisticated piece is a combination of a console table—designed to be placed against a wall—and a commode—a chest of drawers—as is clearly illustrated by its French name, commode en console. Only a few such tables are known today, and they appear to have been fashionable for but a short period during the middle of the eighteenth century; five were recorded in the account book of the marchand-mercier Lazare Duvaux between December 1753 and February 1757. The most expensive of them, mounted with lacquer and decorated with gilt bronze, was sold on May 13, 1756, for 1,150 livres.[1] Since no other example with lacquer is known to exist, this entry in Duvaux’s book may describe the Museum’s table—but very little else can be said about its history.

Although console tables were generally made by those joiners who specialized in wall paneling or boiserie this piece was, like most commodes, the work of an ébéniste versed in the art of veneering. Bernard II van Risenburgh, whose initials are stamped on the top and underneath the carcase, worked almost exclusively for marchands-merciers such as Duvaux, Thomas-Joachim Hébert (d. 1773), and Simon-Philippe Poirier (ca. 1720–1785). One of the dealers could have supplied him with the Japanese lacquer for this table, probably obtained from seventeenthcentury cabinets. A detailed description of the best way to process and handle Asian lacquer for use on European furniture was published by André-Jacob Roubo in his treatise L’Art du menuisier of 1769–75. Roubo indicated how the lacquer should be cut from its wooden substrate in order not to crack it and then how to heat and glue it to the body of a new piece of furniture. He also suggested framing the lacquer with gilt-bronze mounts to mask the joints and hide any chipping that might have occurred during the cutting process—as has been beautifully done by Van Risenburgh on the Museum’s table.[2]

[1] Duvaux 1748–58/1965, vol. 2, p. 281.
[2] Roubo 1769–75, vol. 3, pt. 3 (1774 ), pp. 1020–21.
Signature: Stamped, on top of carcass at back at right rear corner and beneath carcass to left of center at back: B.V.R.B.

Marking: Stamped twice, near each "B.V.R.B." stamp: JME [monogram of jures];
Painted underneath the top: 176
Countess M. H. De Greffulhe II , Paris (by 1877) ; M. P. Cailleux , Paris (before 1955–after 1961) ; Mr. and Mrs. Charles Wrightsman , New York (until 1976; to MMA)
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