French Carved Louis XV Console Table after a design by Nicolas Pineau

French Carved Louis XV Console Table after a design by Nicolas Pineau

Price: Price on request

Offered by Kollenburg Antiquairs BV

The console stands upon two Rocaille legs consisting of double C-shaped volutes. The legs are interconnected by the handsomely undulating apron and the stretcher, both decorated with an asymmetrical cartouche.
Like the legs, the apron consists of C-volute-shaped rocailles that weave out from the central cartouche across the console’s front and sides.
The corners are splendidly highlighted with large cabochons placed within rocailles.

The console’s balanced structure suggests that it was created between 1735 and 1745.
The cartouches in the apron and the stretcher provide the asymmetry that so strongly defines the Rococo period, as do the skilfully carved leaf and flower patterns. The three animals on the stretcher – a frog and two lizard-like creatures – add a playful note.
The carvings are integrated into the console’s load-bearing components, making it possible to endow them with a great degree of depth and motion as well as a pleasing contrast of light and shade that is further enhanced through the application of gold leaf.

Consoles such as this were part of the fixed finishing of interiors, incorporated into the panelling and often completed with a mirror in an ornately carved frame.
Designs for the finish and the various components of a room’s panelling were provided by architects as well as designers or dessinateurs (draughtsmen), and carved by Maître-menuisiers (master carpenters). Unfortunately, though, they were not signed. The quality of this console justifies its attribution to Nicolas Pineau.

Nicolas Pineau (1684-1754) was the son of sculptor Jean-Baptiste Pineau, who among others assisted in the construction of Versailles. Nicolas was one of the young talents who travelled to Saint Petersburg in 1716 with architect Alexandre le Blond  to work on the interiors of Czar Peter the Great’s palaces. After Le Blond’s death in 1719, it was Pineau who provided the designs for the decorative finishes in Saint Petersburg. Pineau returned to Paris around 1730, where his great talent and free design style soon made him one of the most sought-after dessinateurs.
The introduction of the so-called goût pittoresque and hence the asymmetry in the finishing of interiors may therefore be largely credited to Pineau. The idea was that the finishing as a whole had to be symmetrical (symmétrie perspective), but certain elements within it (such as the irregular, quasi natural rocailles) could be asymmetrical (symmétrie contrastée). The whole was intended to seem so natural that beholders would not want to disrupt the unity of the asymmetric symmetry. The principle of asymmetric symmetry applied not only to panelling but also to the specific elements within it, such as the meubles de menuiserie, which included console tables.

In his designs, Pineau generally offered his clients a choice between two variants.

Image 1 is a design from ca. 1735. The console was undoubtedly carved by the same Maître-menuisier who crafted the panelling.
Pineau’s interior designs from the 1730s on were exuberantly free-spirited, imaginative and yet well-balanced. They were characterised by rocailles in the shapes of irregular C- and S-volutes, asymmetrical cartouches, leaf ornaments and flower garlands, and often further enlivened through the addition of animals. It is no surprise, then, that Pineau collaborated with the best architects of his day, including Leroux and J. F. Blondel, nor that those architects were eager to appropriate Pineau’s designs and present them as their own. Research and comparisons of drawings signed by Pineau have revealed their true author, however.

Drawings and designs by Pineau’s hand can be found in the collection of the Musée des Arts décoratifs in Paris, among other places. The panelling in Peter the Great’s Cabinet has been preserved to this day in the Peterhof Palace. Another example of panelling work by Pineau, taken from the former Hôtel de Varengeville in Paris, can now be found in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

Peter Fuhring, Designing the Décor, French Drawings from the Eighteenth Century, Lissabon, 2005.
Fiske Kimball, The Creation of the Rococo, 2e druk, New York, 1964.
Claude-Paule Wiegand, Le mobilier français, Régence, Louis XV, Parijs, z.j.

ca. 1745
gilt-wood, Rouge Royal marble top
87.5 x 66.4 x 138.5 cm

Offered by

Kollenburg Antiquairs BV

Postbus 171
5688 ZK Oirschot
The Netherlands

+31 499578037
+31 655822218

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