Commode

Object Details

Title:

Commode

Artist/Maker(s):

Charles Cressent (French, 1685 - 1768, master 1719)

Culture:

French

Date:

about 1745 - 1750

Medium:

Fir, oak, and Scots pine veneered with bloodwood and amaranth; drawers of walnut; gilt-bronze mounts; brèche d'Alep top

Dimensions:

90.2 x 136.5 x 64.8 cm (35 1/2 x 53 3/4 x 25 1/2 in.)

Credit Line:

Gift of J. Paul Getty

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Charles Cressent made both the wooden carcass and gilt-bronze mounts for this commode. His practice of casting bronze in his workshop broke strict guild rules; through the eighteenth century, the craft of casting and gilding bronze was restricted to a separate guild. Cressent was fined several times for these infringements; in order to pay the penalties, he was forced to hold sales of his stock. In a catalogue he wrote in 1756 for one such sale, he describes this commode's unique central gilt-bronze mount: "the bronzes [represent] two children who are grating snuff; in the middle is a monkey powdering itself with snuff."

By the time it was built, this commode already looked old-fashioned. By the 1740s most commodes were constructed without a central divider that separated the two drawers. Although the curving gilt-bronze branches on the front try to mask this division, Cressent had to split the mount into three pieces--an awkward solution. He seems to have had difficulty selling the commode as it was still in his possession nearly twenty years after its construction.

Provenance
by 1914 - 1923

George Jay Gould, 1864 - 1923 (857 Fifth Avenue, New York City, New York)

1924/1925 - 1928

Duveen Brothers, Inc. (New York City, New York), received from the estate of Edith Kingdom Gould, 1924-1925, sold to Arnold Seligmann, Rey and Co., New York, February 24th, 1928.

1928 - 1938

Arnold Seligmann, Rey and Co. (New York City, New York), sold to J. Paul Getty, October 21, 1938.

1938 - 1970

J. Paul Getty, American, 1892 - 1976, donated to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1970.

Bibliography

Getty, J. Paul. Europe in the Eighteenth Century (Santa Monica, Calif., 1949), p. 60.

Wescher, Paul. "French Furniture of the Eighteenth Century in the J. Paul Getty Museum." Art Quarterly 18, no. 2 (Summer 1955), pp. 114-35.

Getty, J. Paul. The Joys of Collecting (New York: Hawthorn Books, Inc., 1965), p. 144.

Fredericksen, Burton B., ed. The J. Paul Getty Museum: Greek and Roman Antiquities, Western European Paintings, French Decorative Arts of the Eighteenth Century (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1975), p. 152.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Collections. 1st ed. (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1986), pp. 153-53.

Sassoon, Adrian, and Gillian Wilson. Decorative Arts: A Handbook of the Collection of the J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1986), p. 11, no. 22.

Kjellberg, Pierre. Le Mobilier français du XVIIIe siècle: Dictionnaire des ébénistes et des menuisiers (Paris: Editions de l'Amateur, 1989), p. 204.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Collections. 3rd ed. (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1991), pp. 166-67.

Bremer-David, Charissa et al. Decorative Arts: An Illustrated Summary Catalogue of the Collections of the J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1993), p. 24, no. 23.

Masterpieces of the J. Paul Getty Museum: Decorative Arts (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1997), p. 74, no. 55.

Wilson, Gillian, and Catherine Hess. Summary Catalogue of European Decorative Arts in the J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2001), p. 13, no. 23.

Wilson, Gillian, et al. French Furniture and Gilt Bronzes: Baroque and Régence, Catalogue of the J. Paul Getty Museum Collection (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2008) pp. 204-15, no. 20.

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