The Collection

  - Marquetry table à écrire

Jean-Pierre Latz (ca. 1691-1754)

Marquetry table à écrire

Paris, Louis XV period, ca. 1750

Stamped I.P.LATZ
Oak carcase veneered with rosewood, amaranth and satinwood, ormolu sabots, ink and pounce pots in silver (marked PL for Pierre Leplain, Parisian assay stamp 1795–97, Rosenberg3 6560)
H. 68.5 cm (27 ins.), W. 55 cm (21½ ins.), D. 38 cm (15 ins.)
This table à écrire with four curved legs and an additional lower shelf is an extremely elegant piece of salon furniture. Underneath the decoratively scalloped top, a writing panel can be pulled out that can also be raised and propped up as a book rest. On one side is a drawer containing the original ink and pounce pots, which were made in exactly the right size and incorporated into the table by the Parisian goldsmith Pierre Leplain at the end of the eighteenth century.

The elegance of the Louis Quinze era is perfectly reflected in this dainty piece of writing furniture. On the top, which has curvaceous edges echoing the shape below, a central cartouche is surrounded by a frame that follows the unusual outlines of the composition within. The motifs seen in the reserve are flowers, foliage and a harp, which offer a charming contrast through their execution in light and dark woods against a darker ground.

Jean-Pierre Latz (c. 1691–1754) was certainly one of the most gifted and original Parisian cabinetmakers of the Louis Quinze period. Born in Cologne, he settled in Paris as an ébéniste in 1719 or shortly after. Through his marriage to Marie-Madeleine Seignet, the daughter of the owner of a building firm, he benefited not only from a dowry of 10,000 livres but also from the family’s contacts in high places, with the help of which he acquired the title Ebeniste privilegié du roy (before 1741). As such he was able to practise his craft freely without having to possess a master title and moved his workshop to a house named “Saint Esprit” in the Rue Faubourg Saint Antoine. His most important collaborator was his nephew Jean-Pierre Tillmanns, of whom we have no further knowledge. After his death his widow was permitted to retain the royal privilege, which enabled her to continue running the workshop until 1756. The greatest advantage of the royal charter was that it allowed its holder to cast, chase and gild bronzes. In 1749, the Parisian guild of bronze-casters, who took great offence at this exception, conducted an investigation which revealed that Latz’s workshop contained no less than 2,288 models and bronze parts intended for use on clock cases and furniture.

Interestingly, the largest collections of furniture by Latz are located in Berlin and Dresden, giving us a clear indication of how well-known he was and how widely his furniture was sold, particularly in Germany. His furniture is also exhibited in public collections such as the Louvre and Musée Carnavalet in Paris, the Rothschild family seat of Waddesdon Manor near London, and in the Cleveland Museum of Art, United States of America.

Published:

P. Kjellberg, Le Mobilier Français du XVIII siècle (Tours, 1998), illus. p. 488.
Literature: A. Pradère, Die Kunst des französischen Möbels, Ébénisten von Ludwig XIV. bis zur Revolution, München 1990, S.153-161.

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