François Linke – Index no. 100
The rectangular galleried top inlaid with lozenge parquetry, above a cylinder roll-top centered with a bronze ribbon-tied medallion inlaid with a musical trophy, the interior opening to reveal numerous pigeon-holes and four short drawers, above a slide-out gilt-tooled black leather writing surface, above a central concealed spring loaded drawer mounted with an bronze plaque of cavorting putti, flanked to each side by a drawer with flower-filled basket and scrolling foliate handles, the sides with ormolu plaques emblematic of Painting and Sculpture, the back finished with similar parquetry and bronze designs, all standing on square tapering legs.
Signed F. Linke to the top right corner. The locks stamped CT LINKE / SERRURERIE / Paris 100
Pictured on page 247, 488, and daybook entry pictured on Page 475 in “François Linke 1855-1946 The Belle Epoque of French Furniture” By Christopher Payne.
After the famous 18th century model by Jean-Henri Riesener.
Now in the permanent collection of the Musée du Louvre, the original model was made by the celebrated cabinetmaker Jean-Henri Riesener, circa 1784. In 1786, Riesener delivered for Marie-Antoinette’s boudoir at Fontainebleau a suite of unusual furniture inlaid with mother of pearl lozenge-parquetry and with silvered bronze stringing, a suite that include the same model cylinder desk.
The present model was copied by the leading 19th century cabinetmakers such as Linke and Dasson and Beurdeley. The inspiration, most certainly came from the retrospective Exposition de l’union centrale des arts décoratifs of 1882
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 – 43 inches / 109cm
Width – 45 inches / 114cm
Depth – 25.5 inches / 65cm