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2020/05/13

The Furniture in the Former Crown Prince’s Palace ③

Fontainebleau Commode

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There is a commode called ‘Fontainebleau Commode’ made by 18th century German cabinet maker Jean-Henri Riesener (1734-1806) in 1778 for Le Château de Fontainebleau. After his work the design was adopted by many cabinet makers, especially in the Second French Empire period (1852 – 1870) onwards. Some are exact copies and some have small different details such as design of marquetry and sizes.


François Linke was one of them. In his log book Fontainebleau Commode was furniture ‘Number 10’. In his invoice in 1894 it costed him 3160 francs to make. Surprisingly half of the cost went to metal works, making mounts, chasing, gilding and assembling.

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The room above was called ‘Kari No Ma 狩之間, Hunting Room’, possibly designed for entertaining male guests. The commode was sitting against one wall.

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The design of marquetry on the front panel was different from the one of the original Fontainebleau Commode. But other Riesener cabinet has a similar design, flowers on vase, like one in Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris.

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It seems that some individual marquetry parts are same like vase, stand and some flowers on the bottom. Cabinet-makers like him always use different arrangement of design with same marquetry parts for each client.

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The commode was supplied by Fourdinois. Interestingly among the Initial furniture design blueprints he drew and sent to Japan beforehand only this commode was photographed, not drawn. It is obvious that the design was not by him. Also it might suggest that he did not use Maison Alavoine to make and did order to other cabinet maker. Furthermore there are some changes in design and size to the actual furniture delivered later. The width of commode was longer and the design of marquetry was changed. The change must be requested by the Japanese clients.


When the commode was delivered in 1907, it was charged 6500 francs. If the commode was made by Linke, I would wonder how much Linke charged to Fourdinois and how much Foudinois took a commission to the work.

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The commode was modified to have a safe inside and placed in one of the suite for national guests when the whole building was restored in 1974. The photograph was taken from ‘The Report of Refurbishment Works at Akasaka Palace

 

 

 

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