F. J. B. Watson, "The Wrightsman Collection", 1966, vol. II, p.374, no. 191, A and B, describing and illustrating an almost identical pair of chenets in the Wrightsman Collection, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
A magnificent pair of Louis XV Chinoiserie gilt bronze chenets, each with a high arched base of rocklike form on the outer end and the inner end in the form of a large foliate scroll. On one is seated a Chinaman wearing a hat and floral engraved top and pantaloons with both hands clasped to his chest, on the other is seated a Chinese woman, wearing an elaborate headdress, a floral engraved dress and with her right hand outstretched holding a parasol while on the other is perched a parrot
Paris, circa 1745-55
Height of the one with the Chinaman: 35.5 cm, width 35 cm. Height of the other 34.5 cm, width 32 cm.
During the Régence and early part of the reign of Louis XV the passion for all things Chinese never ceased. Linked with the picturesque, the Chinoiserie style became omnipresent in the work and designs promoted by such men as Jacques de Lajoue (1686-1761) especially in his "Recueil Nouveau de différents cartouches" or Nicolas Pineau (1684-1754) and by other artists. This style was readily adopted by the Parisian marchands-merciers who acquired original Chinese porcelain figurines via the East India Company and had them copied in Paris by the master bronziers. The marchands also used Chinese lacquer panels to decorate pieces of furniture or commissioned Parisian artisans to recreate other objects in the Chinese taste. This was the case with Lazare Duvaux whose Livre-Journal lists several deliveries of candelabra, clocks and decorative Chinese chenets as well as a small fireplace ornamented with gilt bronze mounts which was delivered on 23rd August 1756 to Madame la marquise de la Ferrière which Duvaux had had executed by various bronziers, among whom were Jean-Joseph de Saint-Germain and Jacques Caffiéri. Amongst Caffiéri models for bronze mounts for furniture mentioned in the inventory at his death were some gilt bronze chenets as well as some candelabra branches decorated in the Chinoiserie style.
The present model, which proved to be a very successful one, was made in various sizes of which several near identical examples are known. Notable amongst them is a pair in the Wrightsman Collection, Metropolitan Museum, New York which was formerly in the collection of Erich von Goldschmidt-Rothschild (sold by Ball and Graupe, Berlin 23rd-25th March 1931, lot 346). Another closely related pair from the M. Charles Wrightsman collection was sold by Sotheby's, New York, 31st October 1986, lot 17. In addition a further near identical pair (sold in London 1995) once belonged to baron S. de Lopez Tarragoya who formed a distinguished art collection during the early twentieth century which he housed at his hôtel in boulevard Bineau at Neuilly-sur-Seine.
Writing in connection with the pair in the Metropolitan Museum, F. J. B. Watson noted that the model for these and the above mentioned identical examples might relate to a pair of Chinoiserie chenets sent as part of a consignment from the French court to M. le comte de Woronzow, the Imperial Russian Vice Chancellor, on 1st October 1758, as cited by Denis Roche in "Le Mobilier Français en Russie", 1913-14, p. 18 as follows: "Un feu représentant de grand chinois avec ornemans de bronze cizelé et doré d'or moulu…760 l". Watson notes however that the latter may of course relate to a slightly different model, for instance to a pair likewise with male and female Chinese figures but in different poses and on differing bases, of which a pair were made for Mme de Pompadour at Château de Bellevue (now in the Musée du Louvre), while another can be found in the Wrightsman Collection (illustrated in F. J. B. Watson, op. cit., p. 375).