A charming and imposing Louis XV style antique Rococo chimneypiece in Fleur de Pêche Marble with exceptional ormolu mounts by Francois Linke (1855-1946). The serpentine shelf rests above a panelled frieze centred with an applied ormolu shell cartouche, cushioned on trailing acanthus leaves, above a wide serpentine opening. The tapering, canted jambs, embellished with very fine applied ormolu female terms and with delicate ormolu foliate mounts at each foot, are supported on elegant footblocks. French, late 19th century.
Francois Linke was a leading Parisian ébéniste of the late 19th and early 20th centuries and this fireplace was almost certainly commissioned by a client around that time. His signature can be clearly seen on the shoulder of the female term to the left.
In the nineteenth-century, François Linke was considered one of the finest cabinet makers and designers in France, and one of the finest in the world. Born in the small village of Pankraz in Bohemia - now Jitrava in the Czech Republic - François Linke was the second son of eleven siblings. His father was a farmer and sent François to be apprenticed to a local cabinetmaker at just thirteen years of age, after which he settled in Paris in 1878; only five years after his apprenticeship had been completed.
The applied ormolu decorations designed by Léon Messagé were an essential part of Linke’s allure and brought him to the forefront of the Paris makers of meubles de haut luxe. At the famous Exposition Universelle in 1900, one of Linke’s finest items - a grand bureau - won a gold medal. The Art Journal reported in 1900 on Linke’s stand:
‘The work of M. Linke … was an example of what can be done by seeking inspiration amongst the classic examples of Louis XV and XVI without in any great sense copying these great works. M. Linke’s work was original in the true sense of the word, and as such commended itself to the intelligent seeker after the really artistic things of the Exhibition. Wonderful talent was employed in producing the magnificent pieces of furniture displayed...’
Linke’s work was so fine that he was invited to undertake an extraordinary commission to furnish the Ras al-Tin Palace in Alexandria with over 1,000 pieces of furniture and decoration for King Fuad of Egypt; the single largest furniture commission ever conceived, which eclipsed even Versailles. It is here that other examples of his exquisite marble and ormolu chimneypieces can be found.
The designs for these majestic Rococo chimneypieces were in fact inspired by the chimneypieces of Versailles. These were designed in the late 18th century by Jacques Verberckt with gilt bronze mounts by Jacques Caffiéri. The two master craftsmen embodied the Louis XV Rocaille style of the eighteenth-century. When Linke and Messagé were allowed access to these designs, they sought to reproduce both the style and quality for a nineteenth-century audience. As a result, the Louis XV style saw a great revival. The chimneypiece in our collection has figural ormolu mounts almost identical to those found in the sumptuous Council Cabinet of Versailles. Linke has subtly updated the design by choosing a soft, fleur de pecher marble to provide the perfect backdrop for the glowing ormolu.
This chimneypiece is a testament to both Linke and Messagé's exquisite craftsmanship and represents the finest of nineteenth-century design. If you would like any further information about this piece, please do not hesitate to get in touch.
Link to: Antique Rococo Chimneypieces inc Louis XV English Scottish Chippendale Rococo fireplace mantels.