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Louis XVI Gilt Bronze Mounted Satinwood and Amaranth Commode Claude- Charles Saunier #3009

A rare and important Louis XVI gilt bronze-mounted satinwood (bois citronnier) and amaranth marble topped commode firmly attributed to Claude-Charles Saunier (1735-1807), matre in 1752.

French, Paris circa 1785.

Of elegant neo-classical design, this commode is finely constructed from choice cuts of bois citronnier (lemon tree wood) often referred to as satinwood, with contrasting amaranth. The white carrara marble top enclosed by a pierced gilt bronze three-quarter gallery with extremely unusual drapery and tassel decoration below a beaded moulding. The drawer configuration consists of three finely inlaid amaranth-banded and brass moulded drawers, each divided by inset brass panels, over two conforming longer drawers within brass fluted pilasters raised on toupie feet. The sides of the piece are equally beautiful, having gilt bronze mouldings which create a panelled effect and the same striking combination of amaranth cross banding and satinwood as employed throughout.

Having retained a wonderful faded satinwood colour this exceptional Louis XVI Parisian commode is offered in excellent condition with a fine patination which is so often lost on pieces of French origin. The locks are later 19th century replacements and there are spots on the original marble as to be expected.

Very rare to the market this elegant piece exemplifies all the hallmarks of the extremely well known maker Claude-Charles Saunier, who became renowned for his impeccably executed furniture of elegant form with sober neoclassical lines, whilst being made from the finest timber of contrasting woods. The characteristics of his veneered pieces were the `sobriety of their line and the beauty of their wood. 

The use of lemon trees became fashionable at the end of the 1780s and Saunier used fashionable woods in an interesting way, often making good use of their contrasting colours such as lemon and amaranth. Various pieces in citronnier were supplied by the marchand mercier Daguerre in 1786-87 to the Garde-Meuble Royal which would appear to be identifiable as works by Saunier, such as two bonheurs-du jour in `bois jaune' also known as `noyer de Guadeloupe'. 

There is a secrtaire  abattant in bois jaune from this group which would appear to be the one delivered by Daguerre on 10th March 1787, for the Duke of Harcourt, indistinctly signed although the initials C.C. are clear for C.C. Saunier and with the Versailles Chteau mark.

A flap secretary, also attributed to Saunier and entirely made of amaranth and lemon, was part of the collections of Prince and Princess Henry of the Tour d'Auvergne Lauraguais.

An important mahogany and gilt bronze commode, attributed to Saunier c.1785, was purchased by the Francophile 4th Marquis of Bath in the mid 19th century in Paris as part of a Louis XVI suite for his home at Longleat. The commode alone fetched £71,700 when sold by Christie's in their Longleat sale on the 13th of June 2002, lot 391. 

Our research has uncovered a related bois citronnier commode though of objectively lesser quality than our piece making direct comparisons difficult. The first, stamped by Saunier and thus particularly useful in terms of making a solid attribution, sold at Christie's on the 17th of March 2011 lot 76. This commode has been extensively restored and also lacks refinements such as the ormolu gallery and many of the extra gilt bronze mounts when compared to our piece. It also lacks the striking amaranth crossbanding. Despite all of this, the piece still made £17,500.

Saunier came from a family of furniture makers, initially sharing the Faubourg Saint-Antoine based workshop of his father Jean-Charles. Charles moved twice and finally settled in the rue Saint-Claude. Saunier started his production with Louis XV furniture when working for his father but soon changed his taste in favour of the Transitional and, finally, the pure Louis XVI style. His pieces can be seen in various museums around the world and are highly sought-after by collectors.

Width: 50 1/2 inches - 128cm
Height: 35 3/4 inches - 91cm
Depth: 23 1/4 inches - 59cm

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