Posted 3 years ago
Orm0lu and Patinated Bronze Empire Center Table ( Guéridon ), Circa 1805-1810, France, By Bernard Molitor
This one of a kind table was made by Bernard Molitor who made a lot of furniture for Napoléon Bonaparte. I think it may have been brought over to America when Napoleon's minister left France. It has the very old (almost ancient) brand marks dp for DuPont in 3 places, and a label under the marble, "collection of John E. DuPont." Molitor only made one of a kind pieces, unless the furniture being made were chairs or pairs (beds) I imagine.
The 3 caryatids portray Vesta of Ancient Rome mythology. Vesta protected the ancient hearth fire which was not allowed to go out.
I first seen the table in an old Sothebys catalogue and the sale was March 31, 1990. My heart sank when I seen it and I cut out the page it was on and put it on page one of a new Empire Furniture folder I had started. For 10 years I looked at this picture, wanting it so bad. It sold for a good price and I looked at the catalogue (bought 2 of them) very often, longing for it, the furniture in my folder were all pieces I had wanted and wished for. I never dreamed that one day I would own this one of a kind table.
Then I had seen the table again in a Sothebys catalogue being sold on the day the U.S. declared war on Iraq, March 20th, 2003. I had been hoping that Bush would declare war, as I had heard that on days when war is declared, the prices would probably go down at the auction. Sothebys did not know at the time that the table was made by Bernard Molitor. I was bidding by telephone and I was jubilant when I got the winning bid !
I got the table soon and the magnificent bronze caryatid legs were splendid with the original patination intact. In the sun they appear to be almost a medium brownish green in appearance but darker in normal light or shade. The gilded ormolu griffins holding a wreath bronze appliques mounted on the mahogany appear to have been only used in french furniture by Bernard Molitor.
The first time this table was seen late last century only the first owners who were probably the DuPont family had seen it and I believe it may have been sold the first time to Sothebys and then the second time to myself. It was obvious that Sothebys at the time had never seen the book on Bernard Molitor and actually knew little about Empire Furniture. The small urn between the caryatid columns is original to the table. At the time, especially during the 70's-80's, Sothebys believed that all the urns on center tables may have been added later, which I hope they know now that that was an error on their part. More and more people who validate furniture for even the big auction houses get it wrong these days, as younger people now are "experts" as times change and knowledge is forevermore lost !~
When the book (145.00) on Bernard Molitor finally came out (it was delayed) in early 2004 I was shocked to see the table in it. The book was by the esteemed expert on Molitor, Ulrich Leben. The book first came out in 1990, but the Rizzoli book came out in 2004.
Sothebys at the time did not know much about Empire Furniture and their experts were nowhere in site when this center table was sold - either time. I look at this esteemed center table every day in complete awe !!~
Note - There are several pics in my forum of photographs on this site of this table in my living room, not posted in this post, as there was no room.