Akasaka Palace

2020/05/14

The Furniture in the Former Crown Prince’s Palace ④

Chaise avec le monogramme de Marie Antoinette

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This painted side chair has a monogram MA in the back, which is for Marie Antoinette, Queen Consort of France to Louis XVI. It used to be placed at the Petit Trianon in the premise of the Palace of Versailles. The Petit Trianon was Marie Antoinette’s favourite place in the Palace. She escaped here from extremely busy and fatigued court life and spent most of time with ‘Inner circle’.

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The photograph was taken before the restoration work of the Petit Trianon in the 2000s. The chairs were shown around small tripod table in the middle of the room. Now they were somehow removed.

 

The chair was described in the book called ‘Le Mobilier français : Les Sièges ’ by Henri Marcel Magne published in France in the 1920s.

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The description of the chair said that it was in the Petit Trianon and bearing stamp underside of chair frame, J. B. B. Demay.

 

Jean-Baptiste Bernard Demay (1758 – 1848) was a master cabinet maker and carpenter in Paris. The chair must be there in the 1920s. The reason for the removal was seemed to be uncertain whether the chair was made before the French Revolution. Demay was seemed to supplied furniture to the Petit Trianon. But it was possibility that the chair was made after her death for commemoration by him.

 


In the Magne’s book there is quiet detail diagram of the chair.

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Among the initial furniture blueprints supplied by Fourdinois for the Crown Prince’s Palace there was one drawing of a chair resembled to Marie Antoinette’s side chair.

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There was no MA monogram in the back. However the rest of the design was absolute copy of the side chair. Four chairs were made in the design with some changes in France and shipped to Japan later. This is the photograph taken when it arrived at the palace for their inventory.

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The surface finish was not polychrome-painted like the original. Instead of MA monogram there was a new design requested for Imperial Household.

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Paulownia crest (Kiri No Gomon 桐の御紋), which was originally the private symbol of the Japanese Imperial Family. Unfortunately the chairs were not made for the princess’s room, for the room called ‘Midori No Ma 緑之間, Green Room’ for male guests.

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Interestingly François Linke was making Marie Antoinette’s chair in his repertoire. The furniture ‘Number 1545’ costed him 280 francs to make and was retailed 450 francs each in 1908.

 

The Imperial Household paid 1400 francs for 4 chairs, 350 francs each for the palace.

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There are a lot of possibilities you can think of. Current Akasaka Palace is open for public for certain occasion, but you could see only several main rooms. Museum Meiji-Mura holds a part of the furniture made for the palace and luckily Linke left his detail archives. If further researches for those areas progressed, you could be able to see new discovery in the future soon.

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

2020/05/12

The Furniture in the Former Crown Prince’s Palace ➁

Fourdinois and Linke

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Have all furniture supplied by Fourdinois been done by Maison Alavoine?


This circular centre table was originally supplied by Fourdinois to the room called ‘Kujyaku No Ma 孔雀之間, Peacock Room. Then the table and some other furniture were donated to Museum Meiji-Mura later in the 1960s and currently belong to their collection.

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The circular top has green baize now. It is not sure whether it is original or not. But the original invoice mentioned that baize was originally placed on the top. It is likely to be used as a game table at the time. The table was seemed to be made in walnut bearing ormolu mounts.


In 2009 Museum Meiji-Mura held a 45th anniversary exhibition “Furniture from the former Crown Prince’s Palace”. For the exhibition some research was carried out and those furniture was shed light at the first time since being donated.

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The old photograph shows that the table was located in the middle of the room in situ. During investigation for the exhibition one piece of paper was discovered inside of the finial on the middle of the stretcher. The paper said that ‘Linke 170 Faubourg St-Antoine Paris’ on the one side and ‘Paris juin 1904’ on the other side.

François Linke (1855–1946) was a leading Parisian ébéniste (cabinet maker) of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He established his own small workshop at 170 rue du Faubourg St. Antoine by 1881.

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‘F.LINKE’ can be seen underneath the name of the hotel’s sign. The photograph was taken around 1900 and shows the neighbourhood of Faubourg St-Antoine.

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In 1900 Linke with Léon Messagé, French sculptor, developed and exhibited new style of furniture at the Universal Exposition in Paris. In the 1890s the leading cabinet makers in Paris were retiring or closing down their business such as Henry Dasson (1825 - 1896), Joseph-Emmanuel Zwiener (1848 - 1895) and Alfred-Emmanuel Beurdeley (1847 - 1919). For Linke Paris Universal Exposition was great opportunity to establish his name among new furniture industry. He took a gamble and invested so heavily. So if he failed, he would be bankrupt.

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".


His stand was very successful and his notebook records visitors to his stand from England, Europe, the Americas, Egypt and Japan, including: the King of Sweden, three visits from the King of Belgium, Prince Radziwill, the Prince d’Arenberg, the Comte Alberic du Chastel, Miss Anna May Gould, the American heiress, distinguished furniture makers and the President of France, Emile Loubet. The name of La Maison Linke soon became one of the eminent furniture houses in the world.

 


Was the table made by Linke?


The piece of paper might be a remainder for a client remembering who and in when made it. It is possibility that Fourdinois forgot to remove the paper inside and sent straight to Japan.


Any other table in same design by Linke never come up to the art market yet. Further research on Linke related document and actual table such as signature (Linke often put signature on one of brass mounts or locks) need to be carried out in the future.

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Furthermore in 1909 Linke sent his commode carcase to Akatsuka Jitoku(赤塚自得)in Tokyo via Russia on Trans-Siberian Railway for lacquering. According to his log book there was only one occasion to do such a thing. I wonder who was a contact on Japanese side to receive and to explain what Linke wanted to the lacquer craftsman. If Linke was got involved in the palace project, he could have a contact in his hand to ask to lacquer for his clients.

 

 

2020/05/11

The Furniture in the Former Crown Prince’s Palace ①

Crown Prince’s Palace and Three designers

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The former Crown Prince’s Palace in Tokyo (now the state guest house, Akasaka Palace 迎賓館赤坂離宮) was completed in 1909, designed by Japanese architect, Tokuma Katayama (片山東熊 1854 - 1917). The design of the building was in French neo-baroque style, influenced by Louvre in Paris and Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna. There are three foreign interior designers or decorators got involved in this project, Georges Hoentschel, Henri Auguste Fourdinois and Alexander George Mosle.


Unfortunately the building was never used as palace for crown prince (Emperor Taisho 大正天皇later). After the World War II the ownership of this premises transferred to Japanese Government from Imperial Household. In 1968 the government decided to use the building as the state guest house. After 6years restoration and modernisation work Akasaka Palace was officially open in 1974.


At the time some furniture were found to be stored in different places in Imperial Household Agency (宮内庁) and in total 688 items for the palace were confirmed. Among them 509 items were repaired and re-used in the newly state guest house, Akasaka Palace. A part of the rest was donated to Museum Meiji-Mura (博物館明治村) and some went to Imperial Household. The report called ‘Geihinkan Akasaka Rikyu Kaisyu Kiroku 迎賓館赤坂離宮改修記録 The Report of Refurbishment Works at Akasaka Palace’ compiled in 1977 mentioned that all the furniture in the palace was made by L. Alavoine. However it was known that some furniture was not made by them. Also recent researches found some evidences, which suggested that other cabinet-makers might be got involved in the projects.

 

 

Most of the furniture in the palace was supplied by Fourdinois. Therefore he was only awarded a special order (叙勲五等旭日章) by Japanese government for his achievement in 1907. However he died in the same year later.
The three interior designers or decorators did not act as cabinet makers. We know that they worked as intermediary in the project and now one question is raised in my mind. Actually who made those furniture?

 

Georges Hoentscel (1855 - 1915) was once internationally acclaimed interior decorator and is among forgotton. He was known to design and oversee the decoration of the pavilion of the Union Centrale des Arts Décoratifs at the Paris Universal Exhibition of 1900. Later a part of his personal collection was purchased by J. P. Morgan and donated to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. In 2013 there was a special exhibition focused on his collection ‘Salvaging the Past: Georges Hoentschel and French Decorative Arts From the Metropolitan Museum of Art’.


Hoentschel bought his uncle’s business ‘Maison Lays’ in 1892, which seems to be specialising interior design and associated carving such as interior panelling or seat furniture. Often the firm was associated with other specialising cabinet makers for certain projects such as Henry Dasson and L’ escalier de Cristal, even in some cases collaborated with English firm, Waring & Gillow.


Armand-Albert Rateau (1882 - 1938) was working as woodcarver at Maison Lays and then he was appointed as a director at the interior decoration firm Maison Alavoine in 1905 which was associated with Fourdinois later in the project, interior design of Crown Prince’s Palace. It suggests some kind of connection between Hoentschel and Fourdinois at that time.

 

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Fourdinois (1830 - 1907) was son of the well-known cabinet maker, Alexandre-Georges Fourdinois (1799 - 1871). He was one of the prominent furniture designers in the neo-Renaissance styles. Some furniture was bought by the South Kensington Museum, today Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Fourdinois the younger took over father’s business in 1867. With loosing popularity of neo-Renaissance style he was trying to change his firm’s speciality. One of the commode by his firm is in the collection of Château de Compiègne. The commode is a copy of famous Louis XVI commode by Benneman and Stöckel for Château de Fontainebleau.

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With economic crisis in France in the 1880s he had less and less work. Eventually he gave up his business and closed the company in 1887 and auctioned off all asset of the company later. In 1889 at the Paris Universal Exposition he was employed as a furniture critic by the government and praised François Linke’s works.

At the time he was commissioned the Crown Prince’s Palace project, he was freelance interior and furniture designer, not cabinet maker. However he was associated with L. Alavoine (Maison Alavoine). The typed invoices were held in the Archives and Mausolea Department of the Imperial Household Agency of Japan (宮内庁書陵部).

It was reported that a couple of furniture maker stamp were found on back side of a pedestal and a bench. It said ‘L. ALAVOINE & CLE ★ H. FOURDINOIS PARIS ★ 9. RUE CAUMARTIN. 9’. It is certain that some furniture was made by Maison Alavoine under the design of Fourdinois.

 

Alexander George Mosle (1863 – 1949) was an agency for armed dealer in Japan. He came to Japan in 1884 and stayed for about 20 years. He was also big collector of Japanese arts. His commission in this project was quiet small, only supply for three rooms. The group of the furniture in French design was delivered in 1903 by German furniture manufacturer Heinrich Pallenberg in Cologne. A small number of furniture via Mosle was only a group known who their manufacture was.

 

 

 

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