The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
  • Chest-of-drawers
  • Jean-François Leleu (1729 - 1807)
  • Possibly Antoine-Mathieu Le Carpentier (1709 - 1773), Designer
  • France
  • 1772
    (by this date the present marble top has replaced the original brecciated marble top)
    (by 1 January 1807 the present mahogany veneer had replaced the original marquetry on the exterior)
  • Oak, veneered with mahogany, stringings of ebony and box, amaranth, satiné, tulipwood, gilt bronze; steel, brass and gilt-brass locks; griotte marble top; steel keys
  • Object size: 100.5 x 186.6 x 78.5 cm
  • Stamp: 'J. F. LELEU'
    Stamp: 'J.F.LE / J.F.LELEU'
    Stencil: '9161'
    Inscription: 'A. Piolaine' In pencil
  • F246
  • West Gallery I
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • On 28 December 1772 the cabinet-maker Jean-François Leleu (1729-1807) delivered this chest-of-drawers ('commode') to the prince de Condé at the Palais Bourbon, his Parisian town house. The prince had recently commissioned the architect Antoine-Mathieu Le Carpentier (1709-1773) to refurbish his house, and favoured the new neo-classical style that is reflected in this commode, perhaps designed by Le Carpentier.

    By 1779 an inventory records it in the bedroom of the prince's daughter-in-law, the duchesse de Bourbon, which is the room for which it was probably intended. Here it stood under the pier glass opposite the chimney-piece, along with two other smaller chests-of-drawers by Leleu which were placed between the windows. On it stood four Sèvres vases, two of which were of the type known as 'vases à éléphants' (see C246-7 and C249-40 in the Wallace Collection), in a pink ground colour; on the walls were four Gobelins tapestries after Boucher illustrating the Loves of the Gods in oval medallions against crimson-pink grounds, and twelve armchairs and two bergères were upholstered in the same tapestry. This constituted the winter furniture, from which the room took its name of the 'pink bedchamber'. In summer the whole set of Gobelins was replaced with furnishings of silk taffeta.

    The commode was originally much more colourful and highly decorated, in keeping with the room for which it was intended. The current mahogany veneer replaced the original marquetry finish which comprised an oval medallion stained blue and inlaid with a cypher (probably that of the duchesse de Bourbon), flanked by garlands of flowers and olive branches. On the corners the doors were veneered with marquetry bouquets of flowers, while the sides had a criss-cross marquetry mosaic enclosing fleurs-de-lis, echoing the fleurs-de-lis in the gilt-bronze mount around the frieze. The drawers were lined with blue silk mohair. It is thought that during or after the French Revolution the marquetry was taken off and plain mahogany veneers substituted, which was by then the more fashionable finish and did not reference any royal emblems. In 1793 the commode was noted by the Commission des Monuments as being of artistic interest, and by 1807 it was inventoried amongst the furnishings of Jean-Jacques-Régis de Cambacérès, a lawyer and statesman of the Consulat and Empire.