François Linke – Index Number 242
Surmounted by a pierced guilloche acanthus gallery above three frieze drawers and a tambour with a berried-laurel and shell-cast encadrement and handles with a central cartouche enclosing cube parquetry, the interior with pull-out gilt-tooled maroon leather-lined writing surface and fitted with three alcoves above two trays and two drawers, which if are completely pulled out of its encasing, will have two button spring releasing secret compartments, the angles headed by putti holding cornucopia candelabra, the sides with conforming frames and cube parquetry, above a central drawer with ‘crab’ escutcheon flanked to the left by a split drawer and to the right with a deep drawer fitted with a lift-out tray and coffre fort, on cabriole legs headed by pierced rocaille-cast clasps running to scrolled sabots.
Stamped FL to the underside of the bronze mounts and the locks stamped CT LINKE / SERRURERIE / Paris with the number 242.
The original model of this bureau was first exhibited in Linke’s Salon des Industries du Mobilier, which he served on the judging panel, and then at his stand at Earls Court in the 1902 London Exhibition, smartly named “Paris in London”. Linke went on to win a gold medal for his superb display, which included many never before seen pieces.
A water color design, without candelabra, is pictured on page 174 and this exact model from Linke’s showroom at 170 Faubourg St. Antoine, Paris on page 422 in “François Linke 1855-1946 The Belle Epoque of French Furniture” By Christopher Payne.
Linke was born in Pankraz in Bohemia and was celebrated by the French as one of the greatest ébénistes of meubles de style at the turn of the century. He began his apprenticeship with a Bohemian master at the age of thirteen. Four years later, he toured Austria, settling and working in Vienna for two years.Linke arrived in Paris in 1875, and by 1881 he had established his own small workshop at 170 rue du Faubourg St. Antoine. Taking 18th century styles as his starting point and adapting earlier styles to contemporary taste, Linke produced fine quality furniture, steadily expanding his business during the next 20 years. He firmly established his reputation after receiving a gold medal at the Paris Universal Exhibition of 1900 for his extraordinary Grand Bureau. He continued to use international fairs as a means of exploring new markets, exhibiting at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis, the Liege in Belgium and the 1908 Franco-British exhibition in London. Linke’s highly original designs sprang from the Régence and Rococo styles but were imbued with something quite new – Rococo curves were laden with gilt-bronze sculptural mounts in the tradition of A.-C. Boulle (1642-1732) or Charles Cressent (1685-1758). Stylistically, the new designs still adhered to the Rococo; the novelty, however, was Linke’s fusion of the Rococo with the liveliness and the fluidity of the ‘art nouveau’. The Revue called Linke’s creations entierement nouveau, and continued to say that ‘Linke’s stand is the biggest show in the history of art furniture in the year 1900…’ The mounts, or rather sculpture, were characteristic of the finest pieces from the Linke workshops. The most original designs were almost certainly created in collaboration with the enigmatic sculptor Léon Messagé, who excelled in creating lively, high relief, allegorical figures recalling the styles of Boucher and Falconet.
Today, as in the past, Linke is best known for the exceptionally high quality of his work, as well as his individualism and inventiveness. All of his work has the finest, most lavish mounts. The technical brilliance of his work and the artistic change that it represented has never been repeated.
Height – 49 inches / 124cm
Width – 56 inches / 142cm
Depth – 32 inches / 81cm