It comes from the Chateau of Dampierre, historic castle of the Albert de Luynes family since 1663.
Honoré-Théodoric-Paul-Joseph d’Albert, duke of Luynes (1802-1867), was a famous scholar, a member of the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres, who has distinguished himself by the publication of numerous articles on numismatics or related to the archaeological excavations he led, especially in southern Italy. He was also an antique collector (vases, engraved stones, coins). From 1839, he entrusted the restoration of his chateau of Dampierre to the architect Félix Duban to exhibit his collections, which was also an opportunity to order several works of art to the best artists and craftsmen of his time.
Made out of ebony veneer and gilded bronze, this cupboard is a true masterpiece by cabinetmaker Alexandre Bellangé. The doors are separated by three console legs which modillons are adorned with false trimmings in gilded bronze but highly realistic.
These modillons are surmounted by three women masks representing Autumn, with bunches of grapes and vines, and Summer, with wheat ears and wildflowers.
These same masks are found on a sumptuous pair of consoles from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II's collection at Buckingham Palace in London. These consoles were made in 1820 by Louis-François Bellangé, Alexandre's father.
The corpus of currently known furniture made by Louis-François and his son Alexandre shows a stylistic continuity. Indeed, the cupboard presented here remains in the spirit of the father’s creations, including the use of the same women masks representing the seasons.
The Duke of Luynes, a great art lover renovating his chateau in Dampierre, could only ask to this renowned workshop for this particular order.
The chateau was built in the late 17th century by Jules Hardouin-Mansart, ordered by the Duke of Chevreuse, Charles Honoré Albert, son-in-law of Colbert, in a large garden designed by Le Nôtre.
Archaeologist, numismatist and art collector, the duke is also an important patron of the mid-nineteenth century. He commissioned many works of art, notably for his château of Dampierre. This is how the Minerva Salon is designed as a real showcase for his collections. He commissioned Pierre-Charles Simart a reconstitution of the chryselephantine sculpture of the Parthenon’s Minerva. Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, then director of the Academy of France in Rome, is called to realize two large allegorical frescoes, the Golden Age and the Iron Age, which remained unfinished.
The duke’s patronage aimed primarily at a renewal of industrial arts in France thanks to the ancients’ savoir-faire; this cupboard, commissioned to the talented cabinetmaker Bellangé, is undoubtedly, by its aesthetic qualities and its technical prowess, a superb example of the industrial arts in the 19th century.
When it was rediscovered, this large cupboard was placed in front of the door of the library’s chateau, probably moved here from its original location during the 20th century.
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