Posted 2 years ago
Table by Bernard Molitor, Empire Period, 1805-1810
Bernard Molitor only made furniture that was one of a kind, if he made a piece it was for a special client. This has some of the same bronze griffin mounts that are in the collection of the Royal Palace in France. The legs are made of Bronze also and have an original patina in excellent shape, Very dark brown, almost black, but easy to see all the detail on the figures. In the sun, the Vestil Virgin figures are a beautiful greenish brown patina. The hooded Vestil Virgins were priestesses of Vesta, goddess of the hearth. They cultivated the sacred fire that was not allowed to go out.
I bought this piece well over 10 years ago from Sothebys, and still to this day have never discovered its well guarded secrets. It was made around 1810. The Veneer is in pretty good shape for its age, but the wood underneath betrays its real age of 200+ years. It has 2 deep etched owner brands in the wood, " dP" which is the cipher for du Pont, possibly owned by the du Pont minister who escaped from France and returned to America to escape retribution from Napoleon. Under the fossil marble top is the label " The Collection of John E. du Pont ". The table he probably obtained from his parent's collection as they died around that time and he then put it up for auction.
Around 2004, about a year after I bought the table, or Gueridon as it is called, it was featured in the much delayed book called " Molitor, Ebiniste from the Ancien Regime to the Bourbon Restoration " (spelling is correct), by Ulrich Leben, page 170, illustration #181 and cataloged on page 201 at the back of the book.
The table was put up for auction just hours after Geo W Bush declared war on Afghanistan. I had waited for that announcement as when war is just declared, auction prices can drop fast, and that was the perfect time for me to buy. I only had just got a new Sotheby's catalog and I noticed it was the very same piece by the markings, which makes it only about 12 or 13 years after the first sale of the table in 1990.
Catalog #134, Gueridon attributed to Molitor, 1805-1810
Mahogany and Patinated Bronze, 81 X 79 cm size, Provenance, Sold at Sothebys, NYC March 30, 1990, lot 159.
Every day that I am in this table's presence, I am happy !!~