Art/ Collection/ Collection/ Art Object
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Desk (bonheur du jour)

Maker:
Martin Carlin (French, near Freiburg im Breisgau ca. 1730–1785 Paris)
Factory:
Porcelain plaques by Sèvres Manufactory (French, 1740–present)
Decorator:
Plaques decorated by Antoine-Toussaint Cornailles (French, active 1755–1800)
Decorator:
and Nicquet (French, active 1764–92)
Date:
ca. 1770
Culture:
French
Medium:
Oak, mahogany, tulipwood, sycamore, ebony, box and harewood, gilt-bronze mounts, soft-paste porcelain
Dimensions:
Overall: 32 1/4 × 26 1/4 × 15 3/4 in. (81.9 × 66.7 × 40 cm)
Classification:
Woodwork-Furniture
Credit Line:
The Jack and Belle Linsky Collection, 1982
Accession Number:
1982.60.55
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 539
The presence of the maker's stamp, dealer's inscription, and porcelain plaques constituting a separate series are the three features that significantly distinguish this from a related desk (1982.60.54) in the Linsky collection. Inscriptions on furniture ordered by Simon-Philippe Poirier are not uncommon, although this is the only desk in the group with this type of inscription. As Bellaigue has noted, the inscription presumably gives instructions to the silversmith or supplier of writing materials to whom the empty container was sent to be fitted with metal accessories.[1] Poirier's name occurs on the carcase of one desk and on a plaque on another in this series (both in the Huntington Art Gallery, San Marino).[2]

The seventeen porcelain plaques have an apple-green ground and are painted with bunches of flowers in reserves set in a triple border of tooled gold.

Sixteen of the plaques are painted on the reverse in blue with the date-letter r for 1770 within crossed LLs; the date-letter on one plaque (no. 3) is illegible. Sixteen of the plaques are painted on the reverse with the marks of one of four flower painters:

(1) Bertrand: nos. 2, 10, 11 (no first name known, working 1757–75, d. 1775).[3] Eriksen describes Bertrand's mark as the figure 6; Clare Le Corbeiller and Geoffrey de Bellaigue propose that this mark be read as the letter B.

(2) Antoine-Toussaint Cornailles: nos. 12–17 (working 1755–92, 1794–1800).[4]

(3) Five plaques (nos. 4–8) are painted on the reverse with a mark which is possibly that of the painter Niquet (no first name known , working 1764–92).[5]

(4) Unidentified flower painter: nos. 1, 3.

Eight of the plaques are painted on the reverse with marks indicating the top—on nos. 9, 14, and 15, the word "haut," and on nos. 11–13 and 16–17, the letter h.

[Bill Rieder, 1984]

Footnotes:
[1] G. de Bellaigue, The James A. de Rothschild Collection at Waddesdon Manor: Furniture, Clocks and Gilt Bronzes, Fribourg, Switzerland, 1974, II, p. 482.

[2] G. Wilson, "New Information on French Furniture at the Henry E. Huntington Library and Art Gallery," J. Paul Getty Museum Journal 4 (1977), pp. 39–40.

[3] S. Eriksen, The James A. de Rothschild Collection at Waddesdon Manor: Sèvres Porcelain, Fribourg, Switzerland, 1968, p. 315.

[4] C. C. Dauterman, J. Parker, and E. A. Standen, Decorative Art from the Samuel H. Kress Collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, London, 1964, p. 183.

[5] The mark is illustrated in M. Brunet, Les Marques de Sèvres, Paris, 1953, p. 33.
Signature: Stamped twice, once beneath left apron and again on back rail of top beneath raised section: M CARLIN JME

Inscription: Inscribed in black ink on underside of container fitted with inkwell, pounce pot and sponge trough: 1 piece en soudurre forte; 19th century paper label affixed to underside with ink inscription: EARL SPENCER

Marking: Painted on reverse of 16 plaques: [1] Crossed L's enclosing r (Sèvres factory mark and year letter for 1770)

Painted on reverse of plaque 3: [2] illegible date letter

Painted on reverse of plaques 9, 14, 15: [3] haut (indicating top)

Painted on reverse of plaques 11-13, 16, 17: [4] h (indicating top)

Painted on reverse of plaques 2, 10, 11: [5] Betrand decorator's mark

Painted on reverse of plaques 12-17: [6] A.T. Cornailles decorator's mark

Painted on reverse of plaques 4-8: [7] possibly Niquet decorator's mark

Painted on reverse of plaques 1 and possibly 3: [8] unidentified
Fifth Earl of Spencer , London (by 1862) ; William Astor , Buckinghamshire ; 3rd Viscount Astor (until 1967; sale, Christie's, London, June 19, 1967, lot 95; sold to Linsky); Jack and Belle Linsky , New York (1967–82; to MMA)
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