The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
  • Chest-of-drawers
  • Probably Nicolas Sageot (1666 - 1731)
  • France
  • c. 1700
  • Pinewood, birch, ebony, première- and contre-partie Boulle marquetry of turtleshell, brass and pewter, oak, grey paper, steel
  • Object size: 81 x 132.5 x 66 cm
  • F39
  • East Galleries I
Further Reading
  • This chest-of-drawers (commode) is attributed to Nicholas Sageot (1666-1731, maitre 1706); similarities can be found with this and other pieces that are known to be by him.

    Nicholas Sageot appears to have become active in the 1690s and is first recorded as working in the Grande rue du Faubourg Saint-Antoine in 1698. He worked as an ouvrier-libre (free worker) before being accepted into the guild of cabinet-makers. His production appears to have principally consisted of armoires, commodes and bureaux and he is best known for his Boulle marquetry-decorated furniture - he was one of Andre-Charles Boulle's (1642-1732) main competitors. A dealer as well as a cabinet-maker, Sageot appears to have sub-contracted some of his marquetry production, for example to the marqueteur Toussaint Devoye (active c. 1706-1748).

    F39 was probably made in the early years of the eighteenth century, a date suggested by the slight curves beginning to emerge from an essentially rectilinear shape and by the pilaster-like legs, angled outwards like those of late seventeenth-century bureaux. It is highly decorated with panels of Boulle marquetry, very typical of work by Sageot. Much of this is clearly based on the works of Jean Berain (1640-1711), one of the most influential designers at the court of Louis XIV. The top panel of F39 is taken from an engraving by Berain representing the birth of Venus.

    Other commodes are known which are very similar to F39. One, stamped by Sageot and of an almost identical model, was on the Paris art market in 2012. The marquetry on the sides of F39, on the sides of the legs and on the drawer fronts appears to be the contre-partie marquetry of that on the stamped commode, albeit with a different central motif on the sides and slightly wider panels on the drawers. The mounts on the feet are also very similar, if not identical. Based on the similarity of the form and decoration of this commode, an attribution to Sageot for F39 becomes more likely.

    Two commodes sold in 2010 (Pelham Galleries and Sotheby's London, 5-7 October), both attributed to Sageot, shared identical marquetry tops which differ from F39 only in their central motif. This attests to the popularity of such decoration in the early eighteenth century and one must be wary of attributing all of these pieces to Sageot on the basis of the marqeutry alone, which might have been out-sourced. However, the Sotheby's commode also shared the same handles, corner mounts and feet mounts as F39.

    All the examples above were made with red turtleshell background. The only commode that is known to be the exact twin to F39 in all respects, and with brown turtleshell marquetry, was the one with Perrin in Paris in 2008. This too was unstamped.