Pierre Kjellberg, “Le Mobilier Français de XVIIIe Siècle”, 1989, p. 202, illustrating a similar bureau plat by Charles Cressent in the Residenzmuseum, Munich. Alexandre Pradère, “Charles Cressent”, 2003, p. 133, illustrating the original bureau plat by Charles Cressent in Grimsthorpe Castle, Lincolnshire.
A very fine Louis XV style gilt bronze mounted mahogany bureau plat attributed to Alfred Beurdeley after a model by Charles Cressent, with a rounded and wavy rectangular brown leather-inset top with gilt bronze surround above three frieze drawers divided by scrolled rocaille mounts, the central drawer with a foliate escutcheon and the flanking drawers with scrolled rocaille pulls, the wavy shaped sides centred by a magnificent female mask head, on cabriole legs headed by antique male military busts, the angle mounts terminating in acanthus wrapped sabots
Paris, date circa 1860
Height 80.5 cm, length 214 cm, depth 97 cm.
This bureau plat is a direct copy of the renowned work by Charles Cressent (1685-1768), acquired by Baron Willoughby de Eresby for his residence at Grimsthorpe Castle, Bourne in Lincolnshire.
The quality of the copy and manner in which is it is made suggests an attribution to the firm of A. Beurdeley à Paris. Alfred Beurdeley père (1808-82), like his son Alfred Beurdeley fils (1847-1919) excelled at copying Louis XV and Louis XVI furniture and bronzes. Both were given access to the collections at Versailles, the Petit and Grande Trianons and the Louvre by the Garde-Meuble and to other important residences where they were allowed to make moulds and replicas of eighteenth century furnishings. These copies were greatly praised by the critics for the quality of their craftsmanship and by wealthy collectors such as the Rothschilds, who were keen to recreate eighteenth century interiors. The nineteenth century witnessed a great revival of past historical styles but due to the inevitable shortage of original works, Beurdeley and others met the demand by recreating high quality revival pieces. The firm was one of the very finest Parisian ébénistes and bronziers of the day, whose quality of work is often considered indistinguishable from earlier prototypes.
The famous Beurdeley dynasty began with Jean Beurdeley (1772-1853) and was continued by his son and then grandson. After serving in the Napoleonic army, Jean opened a small antique shop in the Paris Marais district and in 1830 bought the Pavillon de Hanovre, 28 Blvd. des Italiens, which was to be the firm’s principal gallery until 1894. The business was expanded by his son Alfred Beurdeley père, who continued dealing in antiques and works of art and as a supreme ébéniste specialised in reproductions of seventeenth and eighteenth century furniture. His clients included Napoleon III and the Empress Eugénie. He was first assisted and then succeeded by his illegitimate son Alfred Beurdeley fils, who took over the workshop in 1875. The latter tended to specialise in luxury eighteenth century style furniture and bronzes and as one of the finest manufacturers of his day was awarded a gold medal at the Paris Exposition Universelle in 1878 and in 1893 was appointed a Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur. The death of his wife in childbirth 1894 resulted in a dramatic change of direction. In 1875 Beurdeley retired; he closed down the Pavillon de Hanovre and began selling his vast stock of furniture and bronzes in a series of sales, 1895-1900. He also sold his impressive collection of eighteenth century French drawings in 1905, a fine collection of architectural drawings to the Stieglitz Museum and an enormous collection of Chinese porcelain in 1906 and spent his remaining years in pursuit of fine French nineteenth century drawings.