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A pewter, brass, fruitwood and stained sycamore inlaid marquetry, ebony and ebonised cabinet on stand attributed to Pierre Gole (1620-1684), Louis XIV, circa 1680. Photo courtesy Sotheby's

the upper section of breakfront form with three frieze drawers inlaid with lunettes and bellflowers above a cupboard door inlaid with a vase of flowers on a plinth opening to reveal a fitted interior with four drawers and a parquetry floor above a further drawer flanked by panels with a ribbon-tied floral bouquet above a stylised scallopshell, the inside of the door inlaid with a vase of flowers on a plinth within an octagon with ribbon-tied floral bouquets at each angle, with two banks of four drawers inlaid with scrolling foliage and flowers similar to the internal drawers, the sides with boldly scrolled acanthus and leaves, the stand with a canted edge inlaid with trails of acanthus above three frieze drawers and a pull-out leather-lined writing slide, on spirally turned legs joined by a moulded stretcher on flattened bun feet; alterations to stretcher and feet; cabinet 82cm. high, 134cm. wide, 57cm. deep; Stand 87.5cm. high, 135cm. wide, 60cm deep; 2ft. 8¼in., 4ft. 4¾in., 1ft. 10½in., 2ft. 10½in., 4ft. 5¼in., 1ft. 11½in. Estimate 100,000-150,000 GBP

PROVENANCE: Private European Collection

Comparative Literature: Monique Riccardi-Cubitt, The Art of the Cabinet, London, 1992, fig, 53.
Alexandre Pradère, French Furniture Makers, the Art of the Ebéniste from Louis XIV to the Revolution, Tours, 1989, pp. 44-51.
Pierre Ramond, Chefs-D’Oeuvres des Marqueteurs, Vol.1, 1994, Editions, H. Vial, p. 56 and pp. 74-79.  
Th. H. Lunsingh Scheurleer, Pierre Gole ébéniste de Louis XIV, Dijon, 2005, pp. 138, fig, 110, p. 140, figs 11 and 112. 
Louis XIV faste et Décors Mai-Octobre,1960, Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Palais du Louvre-Pavillon de Marsan,Pl.VI, no.57.

This impressive cabinet on stand profusely inlaid with marquetry of exhuberant flowers represents the pinnacle of the art of naturalistic marquetry and is typical of the work of Dutch marqueteurs working in the 17th century who disseminated their style throughout Europe such as Pierre Gole (1620-1684) who worked for Louis XIV, Jan van Mekeren (1658-1733) working in Amsterdam,  Leonardo van de Vinne (1659-1713) in Florence. The design of the vase of flowers on a plinth is probably based upon engravings by Jean-Baptiste Monnoyer (d. 1699).  

The skill of the Parisian ébénistes working in the 1680’s can be seen well represented on this beautifully inlaid cabinet on stand which is almost certainly by Pierre Gole due to its striking similarity to other pieces attributed to or known to be by him. The form of the cabinet and execution of the marquetry are very much in his style with the fluid rinceaux and floral bouquets all depicted in exotic woods and in this case precious metals on a dark ebony ground providing a striking contrast executed in a virtuoso technique. 

1077L13303_6VPP6_Comp1An almost identical cabinet attributed to Pierre Gole circa 1670-80, in terms of its form, materials and marquetry, with an identical vase on the central door and identical marquetry on the drawers and frieze although on a caryatid stand, is illustrated by Lunsingh Scheurleer op. cit., p. 138, fig. 110, reproduced here in fig. 1. The inside of the illustrated cabinet has an identical vase on the inside of the door flanked by ribbon-tied bouquets at the angles, identical scallopshell and floral bouquet flanking the internal drawers and marquetry on the internal drawers and sides. It is now in a Private collection but had formerly belonged to Charles Angell of Bath, then was sold at the Palais Galleria, Paris 6-7th December 1974, lot 42; Charles de Pauw; Marc Lagrand, Paris; Galerie Gismondi, Paris, 1995, and finally sold Drouot-Richelieu sale, Paris, 21st November 2008, lot 119 (305,000E). Both cabinets are so similar in fact almost identical, they must be by the same hand and made at the same time.

The author Lunsingh Scheurleer states in respect of  the illustrated cabinet, op. cit.that in style and decoration it is a piece executed by Gole in around 1680. The architectural composition of the cabinet is typical with the central door flanked on either side by flat pilasters and a bank of drawers. There is also a plinth on the base of the cabinet in which there are three drawers. The superb quality of the flower marquetry is another indication it is by Gole and the way the shading has been done with hot sand to create a three-dimensional effect and there is the flowerhead from which there issues two leafy branches on the front of the drawers, the scrolling acanthus, the vase with the bouquet of flowers on the front and reverse of the central door and the four small bouquet of flowers which are tied with a ribbon on the angles. The use of these small bouquets by Gole can be seen in the years around 1660 for example on the cabinet in the Rijksmuseum, in Amsterdam circa 1662; on the tops of the tables at Burghley House, dating to around 1665 and the National Museum, Stockholm, all illustrated by the author op. cit., in figs 69, 70, 72, 103 and 104. Furthermore, the use of exotic woods such as amaranth, holly, walnut, bois satiné and green tinted fruitwood are another feature of Gole's work.

Other comparable cabinets include :

1077L13303_6VPP6_Comp2- A cabinet illustrated in the catalogue of the exhibition at the Musée des Arts décoratifs, pl. VI, no. 57, reproduced here in fig. 2, subsequently sold Christie’s London, 7th December 2006, lot 235, stated to be in the  manner of Pierre Gole (£153,000). It is inlaid in various woods, pewter and ivory. The vase on the central door differs from that on the offered cabinet and  it is surmounted by a demi-lune panel  inlaid with flowers which is missing on the offered cabinet. The inside of the latter is much more beautiful with detailed marquetry whereas the illustrated one has mainly parquetry inside and plain veneered drawers.

1077L13303_6VPP6_Comp3-A cabinet in the manner of Pierre Gole, sold in these Rooms, the Property of Helena Hayward Deceased, lot 67, 30th May 1997, reproduced here in fig. 3. Reiner Baarsen of the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam assisted on the attribution to Gole of that cabinet. Although it is not on such a grand scale as the offered piece, and the central door has a more baluster shaped flower-filled vase, the plinth base is extremely similar, and so is the marquetry on the drawers, although there birds on alternate drawers on the Hayward cabinet.

-A cabinet of similar form, although inlaid in various woods and not precious metals as on the offered cabinet, and with a vase on a plinth of differing design on the door and similarly inlaid drawers, stated to be possibly by Gole, was sold, from the Collection of Professor and Mrs Clifford Ambrose Truesdell, lot  261, Christie’s, New York, 9th June 2009, (sold $ 116,500), which was subsequently attributed to Pierre Gole and sold lot 219, Hôtel Drouot, Salle I, Paris 17th November 2010 (245,000E).

-A cabinet although unattributed, however, very similar in form to all the others but with the demi-lune mouldings above the central door flanked by pilasters, with similar marquetry and on a stand composed of female terms, was sold Sotheby’s Monaco, 30th November 1986, lot 1039.  

-A cabinet with related marquetry, which was stated to be in the manner of Pierre Gole, but not as finely executed as on the offered one, sold Sotheby’s, New York, 27th October 1990, lot 53 ($150,000).

- A cabinet at Burghley House, Stamford, illustrated Lunsingh Scheurleer, op. cit.,p. 124, fig. 95, which had been acquired by the 5th Earl of Exeter, together with four guéridons and a table which were en suite, which probably date from the 1660’s. Although unlike the offered cabinet it has inlay of ivory in the flowers and green tinted horn.

- A cabinet sold Christie’s London, 23rd June 1988, lot 109, now in the Fine Arts Museum, San Francisco, illustrated Lunsingh Scheurleer, op. cit., p. 132, fig. 105. 

Pierre Gole (1620-1684): Born at Bergen, near Alkmaar, in Holland in about 1620, Pierre Gole moved at an early age to Paris. By 1643 he was working as apprentice to the menuisier en ébèneAdrien Carbrant, whose daughter he soon married and their marriage contract is dated 1645. The two younger Carbrant sisters, Marguerite and Charlotte, were married respectively to Pierre Gole's younger brother, Adrien, and to Jean Marot,Architecte des Bâtiments du Roi, and it is possibly through this connection that Gole received his royal patronage. From 1656, he is described in documents asmaître menuisier en ébène ordinaire du roi, but his first recorded royal commission is for a vast cabinet to hold the king's medals and drawings to stand in his study in the Louvre. This piece, inlaid with marquetry of flowers and mounted in gilt-bronze, was delivered in 1661 and stood three metres high. It cost 6,600 livres. In 1661, he also delivered pieces for the new royal apartments at the Château de Vincennes. One of the pieces he provided was a 'cabinet d'architecture' in marquetry of flowers on an ebony ground. Gole's most famous royal commission was for the'Cabinets de la Guerre et de la Paix', which he made between 1665 and 1668, almost certainly after designs by Lebrun. These cabinets no longer exist. Like many of the pieces that Gole made for the king and for Cardinal Mazarin, they were probably dismantled when they were sold off from the Royal Collection in 1741 and 1751. In 1663 and 1664, Gole delivered a suite of furniture with floral marquetry on an ivory ground for Versailles. It comprisd a large cabinet with its two guéridons and their attendant tables, one with matching guéridons. The legs of the cabinet as well as those of the tables were in the form of columns. Gole had made a speciality of this type of marquetry in ivory in Paris.

Gole's workshop was situated on the rue de l'Arbre Sec, but it seems probable that he also had the use of premises at the Gobelins for his Royal commands. The famous tapestry of the visit of Louis XIV to the Gobelins factory in 1667 shows two ébénistes, one of whom is obviously Domenico Cucci, and the other can only be Pierre Gole, holding up a tortoiseshell marquetry table of a type of which he supplied many for the Royal Palaces. Gole was almost entirely subsumed in providing pieces for the King’s principal residence at Versailles. They were mainly tables in walnut or floral marquetry. The six tables delivered in 1679 as well as twenty-three others delivered in 1682 at the time of the King’s move to Versailles were decorated on the top with a central motif of a vase or bouquet of flowers on an ebony or cedar ground. Gole died in 1684, a year before the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, which would almost certainly have put him out of business. The inventory of his stock at the time of his death describes almost two-hundred pieces of furniture, only thirteen of which are cabinets. Among the more illustrious of his clients that are listed, the princesse de Carignan stands out, along with the princesse de Mecklembourg, the princesse de Bade, Louise de Savoie and Marie de Bourbon. 

Sotheby's. European Sculpture & Works of Art: Medieval to Modern. London | 02 juil. 2013 www.sothebys.com