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A German gilt-bronze mounted mahogany commode circa 1755, by Abraham Roentgen, Neuwied. Estimate 80,000 — 120,000 GBP. Photo Sotheby’s

the serpentine moulded top above conforming bombé body with two long drawers, on base with mounted central apron and cabriole legs on pad feet; 77,5cm. high, 120cm. wide, 67cm. deep; 2ft. 6½in, 3ft.11in., 2ft. 2½in.

PROPERTY OF A GERMAN COUNT

COMPARATIVE LITERATURE: Dietrich Fabian, Roentgen Möbel aus Neuwied, Internationale Akademie fur Kulturwissenschaften, Bad Neustadt, 1986;

Dietrich Fabian, Abraham and David Roentgen, Internationale Akademie fur Kulturwissenschaften, Bad Neustadt, 1996;

Josef Maria Greber, Abraham un David Roentgen, Möbel fur Europa, 2 vols., Josef Keller Verlagg, Starnberg, 1980;

Hans Huth, Roentgen Furniture: Abraham and David Roentgen: European Cabinet-Makers, Sotheby Parke Bernet, London-New York, 1974;

Wolfram Koeppe, Extravagant Inventions: The Princely Furniture of the Roentgens, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2012.

NOTES: With its fine proportions and accomplished craftsmanship, this commode is an important example of an early Rococo commode from the renowned Roentgen workshop. Although distinctively German, it shows a strong English influence which can be seen in the pad feet, use of mahogany and in the moulded profile of the drawers. The very elegant form of the feet was used frequently by Abraham Roentgen, who did travel to and live in London.

The drawer section and base are detachable, a solution to improve transport for luxury furniture and a trademark feature from the Neuwied workshop, also known for its broad international clientele.

Although the choice of veneer, the moulded drawer fronts and the pad feet are all elements influenced by his English training, the cabriole legs, bombé shape, mounts and varnished finish also reveal the influence of the contemporary Louis XV style, showing a wonderful blend of the two major trends of European cabinet-making, a creation by an exceptionally talented craftsman.

A similar pair of commodes, in walnut, from the collection of the Margrave of Baden with separable bases can be found in Schloss Bruchsal.  Other commodes by Abraham Roentgen sharing a similar outline exist, such as two in Schloss Pommersfelden, one in Schloss Schwetzingen and one other in Neues Schloss, Baden-Baden. This particular model of fine quality Rococo mounts can also be seen in several other pieces by this master.

Abraham Roentgen, the founder of the Roentgen workshop, was born in 1711 in Muehlheim, near Cologne, left in 1731 as a journeyman and spent several years in Holland and in England, where he joined the Moravian Brotherhood in 1737. After marrying, Abraham was chosen to serve as a missionary to the native Americans in North Carolina. The young couple were to leave from Heerendyk, near Utrecht, but Abraham embarked without his wife, who was not well. A Spanish pirate ship in pursuit forced his craft into refuge on the Irish coast of Galway. Roentgen returned to join his wife and ultimately settled in Neuwied in 1750 with other members of the Moravian Brotherhood.

The stylistic influences and craftsmanship acquired during his trainee years in England remained prominent in both Abraham Roentgen and his son David’s oeuvre. Their business went by the name “englischer Kabinettmacher” and to keep in touch with the latest stylistic developments, Abraham even re-visited London in 1766. It was inevitable that Roentgen was also deeply influenced by the Louis XV style, emanating from Paris. This is exemplified by the announcement made by Abraham Roentgen in the Frankfurter Frage- und Anzeigungs-Nachrichten of 21 September 1754, where the cabinetmaker claims to work in the French as well as the English taste.

Sotheby’s. Of Royal and Noble Descent, London, 24 Feb 2015, 10:30 AM

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