An extremely fine Louis XV Transition Louis XVI gilt bronze mounted inlaid marquetry rosewood and kingswood table en chiffonnière attributed to Gilles Joubert, inlaid overall with a trellis pattern centred by rosettes, the oval top with a pierced gilt brass gallery above a cast Vitruvian scroll band, the frieze with a rosette trellis inlay, the frieze drawer with central escutcheon, on hipped cabriole legs each headed by ribbon-tied husk trail mounts and joined by an oval pierced galleried undertier, the legs terminating in gilt bronze foliate-cast sabots
Paris, date circa 1770
Height 71 cm, width 45 cm, depth 33.5 cm.
In 1763 Gilles Joubert (1689-1775) was appointed ébéniste du Roi and like Gaudreaus and Oeben, who had previously held the same title, was one of the most celebrated ébénistes to work for Louis XV. Joubert was apprenticed to Pierre Dasneau and though the exact year in which he became a maître is unknown it was probably between 1714-22. As a mark of his standing he was appointed a juré and then from 1749-51 a syndic of his guild. It was probably through his marriage to Michelle Collet (daughter of the ébéniste Edmond Collet, cousin to Pierre II Migeon) that Joubert was recommended to Madame de Pompadour. She in turn is likely to have introduced him to the Crown. In 1748 he began working for the Garde-Meuble Royal and subsequently received numerous royal commissions. In 1758 he was appointed ébéniste ordinaire du Garde-Meuble and then in 1763 at the age of 74 succeeded Oeben as ébéniste du Roi. Thereafter he made large quantities of extremely luxurious furniture, for example for Mme du Barry's use at the Petit Trianon. He also subcontracted much of his work to younger ébénistes especially R. Vandercruse as well as A.-M. Criard, J. Dubois, F. Mondon, Cramer, L. Boudin, P.-A. Foullet, N.-J. Marchand and L. Péridiez, who often stamped the work with their own mark. For this reason and the fact that Joubert made little use of his own stamp (especially after 1763 when as ébéniste du Roi he was exempt) his oeuvre is difficult to define. However as Pradère notes there clearly is a 'Joubert style' "described as a restrained rococo style and, in the years 1769-74 as Neo-classicism tempered by rococo".
The present piece falls under the latter category in that the legs and overall shape retain the curvaceous rococo forms but its symmetry and Vitruvian scroll and husk trail mounts belong to the emerging Neo-classical taste. Like much of Joubert's productions it is veneered in kingswood and rosewood and like other pieces of the same period is inlaid with a geometric trellis pattern. However it should be said that it does not conform exactly with his two main types of geometric inlay, one composed of a lozenge-shaped lattice centred by gilt-bronze rosettes, the other of interlaced hearts and lozenges. Among the latter type however were rosettes of a very similar shape as here, e.g. as featured on an encoignure supplied to Château de Bellevue, c.1774 and on two commodes for Marie-Antoinette at Versailles 1773 (see Alexandre Pradère, "French Furniture Makers", 1989, p. 212). A further comparison can be drawn between this piece and an encoignure made by Louis Péridiez under Joubert's supervision and delivered to Madame de Victoire in 1769 (Musée de Versailles; illustrated Pradère, op. cit., p. 215) which has a more simplified trellis marquetry and as here is mounted with a Vitruvian scroll and trailing husks.
Despite his numerous commissions, for the reasons mentioned above only ten known pieces bear Joubert's stamp, two of which are housed at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. Others, which are unstamped but delivered by Joubert to the Garde-Meuble Royal, can now be found at the Musée de Versailles, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the J. P. Getty Museum, California and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Works made under Joubert's supervision but stamped with another maker's mark include pieces housed at the Wallace Collection in London, the Frick Collection and the Musée de Versailles.