and authentic interior decors
“Recreating with authentic panels a setting worthy of the pieces we exhibit there has always been a source of inspiration. Thanks to their utterly personal and original approach, our parents before me had been able to make the lovers of fine works of art recognize and appreciate the “Steinitz taste”. Our various achievements in our clients’ homes and in the greatest international exhibitions, the wish to surprise and make people wonder led us to gather together a collection of panels, mantelpieces, parquet floorings and other architectural elements that are unique in the world.
From the panelling of the hôtel du Maine installed by my father in the Embassy of the United States in Paris to the marvellous panelling of the hôtel du Bois-de-l’Etang that today adorn the honour room of our hôtel looking out on a private courtyard located rue Royale, a great many spectacular projects came to fruition as years went by.”
“SOME OF THE SETTINGS REALIZED BY OUR PARENTS IN SEVERAL PARIS BIENNALES DES ANTIQUAIRES, WHICH FOR ME ARE AN INEXTINGUISHABLE SOURCE OF INSPIRATION”
“SOME OF THE PANELS FROM OUR INVENTORY”
EXCEPTIONAL SET OF PANELLING FROM THE PAAR PALACE IN VIENNA ORDERED BY COUNT WENZEL-JOSEPH VON PAAR AND EXECUTED BETWEEN 1765 AND 1771 BY JOHANN GEORG LEITHNER (SCULPTOR OF THE IMPERIAL ACADEMY, 1725-1785) UNDER THE SUPERVISION OF THE ARCHITECT ISIDOR CANEVALE (1730-1786)
TWO EXCEPTIONAL SETS OF PANELLING FROM THE FIRST HALF OF THE 18TH CENTURY ATRIBUTED TO JACQUES VERBERCKT
Of Flemish origin, Jacques Verberckt was born in Antwerp, of a father who was a controller of revenue in the Brabant states and of a mother, née Van der Woort, belonging to a great family of Flemish artists. He was trained by his uncle Michel Van Der Woort (1667-1737), known for executing sculpture works for the Antwerp cathedral. The precise date of his arrival in France remains unknown. He was still in Antwerp in 1715-1716. Once in Paris, Verberckt settled in rue Montorgueil, a street where also lived the sculptor Pierre Taupin, member of the famous Société pour les Bâtiments du Roi who handed him over his place in 1726. From then on, a new generation of younger sculptors gathered together around Jules Degoullons and the last founding members of that Société created in 1699. Jacques Verberckt and Mathieu Legoupil were accommodated by Degoullons in the rue de Cléry.
On 17th December 1726, Verberckt married Marie Delatre, the niece of Degoullons’ wife, in the presence of Robert de Cotte, First Architect to the King. He was granted his letters of naturalization at the end of 1732 or in the very beginning of 1733, the year when he was also appointed by the Royal Academy, the only member of the Société to have successfully applied to that prestigious institution. Verberckt was then seen as the worthy successor of Degoullons and he accordingly benefited from the benevolent protection of Gabriel, the successor of Robert de Cotte. On 16th December 1734, Mathieu Legoupil left the Société and handed him over his shares, leaving him as the sole associate of Degoullons. The latter handed in his resignation when he had taken ill in 1736. Left alone and unanimously considered as the finest sculptor of his time, Jacques Verberckt became the main sculptor-ornamentalist of the Bâtiments du Roi, at the precise time when Louis XV decided to embark on the resumption of great decorative works at the château of Versailles.2
- Source: Pons, op. cit., p. 76-78.
A “SINGERIE” IN PARIS UNDER LOUIS XV
Left, detail of our panelling; right, drawing by Christophe Huet (1700-1759), La lanterne magique, a preparatory red chalk drawing for an engraving, signed and dated 1741 in the lower left section, 16.4 x 21.3 cm. Valenciennes, Museum of Fine Arts
This panelling draws its inspiration from the work of Christophe Huet (1700-1759) who, in the tradition of Watteau, Gillot and most of all Claude III Audran, made a vast number of arabesque drawings with motifs of antics parodying the actions of human life, drawings which had a considerable influence on his contemporaries. This renewed interest in the burlesque taste, whose first appearance dates back to the late 17th century, was to a great extent due to the influence of comedy, and particularly the famous Commedia dell’Arte that ridiculed facts and feelings. In Paris, when a show was given at the Opera, the Italians would often create a comical satire on a similar theme almost at the same moment. Many characters of the Italian comedy were transcribed in the arabesques by de Watteau, Gillot, Lancret ou d’Audran in the early 18th century .
The “singeries” (antics) were particularly appreciated at the time and were even associated to the grotesques, like the ones Christophe Huet painted between 1735 and 1740 in two major decorative sets of the 18th century: the Grande and the Petite Singerie of the château of Chantilly, respectively located on the first and ground floor of the apartments of the Princes of Condé, the cousins of King Louis XV and princes of royal blood.1
1. See Nicole Garnier-Pelle, Anne Forray-Carlier and Marie-Christine Anselm, Singeries & exotismes chez Christophe Huet, Saint-Rémy-en-l’Eau, 2010.
THE «BATWING-SHAPED SHELL, ONE OF VERBERCKT’S FAVORITE MOTIFS
This panelling in natural oak exectuted in the years 1735-1740 in Paris display a dazzling sculpture quality, distributed around vigorous rectilinear moulding networks. The panels, slighty protruding from the moulding, have a uniform background, a current practice at the time, aiming at highlighting all the richness of the sculpted repertory of the upper register. Only the panels at moulding height of the doors display spandrel-shaped corners flanked with delicate rocaille agraffes. The large panel are adorned with a sumptuous carved décor, which is rigorously symmetrical and centred at the level of the ‘crossbow’ contours of the upper and lower rims of each of them.
Remarkable festooned and palmate shells with pearls fillets and batwing-shaped curves, enhanced by small flower buds, flowered palmettes, crowned by an ovum-like motif and flanked by wide acanthus or gadrooned scrolls, adorn the extremities of the large panels.
Two pier mirrors, one of which for a mantelpiece, installed vis-à-vis, ‘crossbow-shaped’ with a central shell, display respectively an upper part adorned with a musical trophee for the one vis-à-vis the mantelpiece, and a carved background ‘with mosaic and rosaces’ for the second. The overdoors with a uniform background are, like the lower registers of these doors, enriched with small rocaille agraffes set in the centre and at the angles as spandrels for each of them.
Our panels belong to a particular style that in the years 1735 marked the end of the works by Jules Degoullons and the beginning of the career of Jacques Verberckt, two of the most eminent scuptors of the Bâtiments du Roi, both members of the famous Société pour les bâtiments du Roi that executed works in the Royal residences as well as for private clients between 1699 and 1736.
EXCEPTIONAL SET OF PANELS WITH ARABESQUE DECORATIONS , EXECUTED CIRCA 1781 FOR THE “FOLIE” OF NICOLAS BEAUJON (1718-1786) IN PARIS, WHICH ALSO BELONGED TO HONORÉ DE BALZAC IN THE 19TH CENTURY
Those historical panels come from the former bathing pavilion which the famous financier Nicolas Beaujon (1718-1786) had himself built circa 1781 within a ‘rural’ estate called ‘la Folie Beaujon’ (“ Beaujon’s folly”) which was created from 1781 onwards on a huge piece of land of 30 acres by the architect Nicolas-Claude Girardin (1749-1786), a collaborator of Étienne-Louis Boullée, who also built for him the Chapel Saint-Nicolas-du-Roule and the Hospice Beaujon in 1784.
The building, now destroyed, was located at n° 12 on rue Fortunée, now at n° 22, rue Balzac. It had passed into the hands of a speculator called Jean-Raphaël Bleuart who had re-sold it to a Pierre-Adolphe Pelletreau, who in his turn sold it to Honoré de Balzac on 28th September 1846.