Bringing French Taste to England: Pierre Langlois

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Detail of the top of a commode by Pierre Langlois made for the 6th Earl of Coventry Metropolitan Museum of Art 

Pierre Langlois was a cabinet-maker of Huguenot origins who found favour in both the Royal Court and within the aristocracy. His name is now synonymous with the greatest English furniture, made in the French taste, during the second half of the 18th century.

Langlois was born in France and trained as a cabinetmaker, possibly with Jean-Francois Oeben.  Langlois made the move to London and opened a workshop in Tottenham Court Road with his son-in-law, Dominique Jean, who was a bronze-caster and gilder who made mounts for Langlois’ furniture.  His work can be seen in the Royal Collection at Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle today.

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Commode by Pierre Langlois made for the 6th Earl of Coventry Metropolitan Museum of Art

Throughout his career, Langlois completed important commissions for several notable clients, including John Russell, 4th Duke of Bedford, Horace Walpole, and George William, 6th Earl of Coventry.  Langlois supplied the commode pictured above to the Earl of Coventry for a bedroom at Croome Court.  There is a bill from Langlois dated July 20, 1764 which gives the price of the commode as 55 pounds.  It also indicates that the commode is intended to store clothing.  This magnificent commode is now in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum in New York.

59.127 Detail Top

Detail of the top of a commode by Pierre Langlois made for the 6th Earl of Coventry Metropolitan Museum of Art 

The serpentine bombe form of the commode along with its elegant floral marquetry is typical of Langlois’ production.  The elaborate mounts were possibly supplied by his son-in-law, Dominique Jean.

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George III serpentine commode attributed to Pierre Langlois Mackinnon Fine Furniture Collection

We have a magnificent and important George III marquetry and parquetry serpentine fronted commode in the French taste that is attributed to Pierre Langlois. The commode boasts an intricate inlaid trellis pattern decoration to panels throughout the piece, with all aspects further decorated with diagonal cross-banding.

A pair of commodes attributed to Langlois with the same decoration can be seen in Christopher Claxton Stevens and Stewart Whittington, 18th Century Furniture – The Norman Adams Collection, pp. 396 – 97.

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Detail of a George III serpentine commode attributed to Pierre Langlois Mackinnon Fine Furniture Collection

The use of the trellis pattern reflects a shift away from rococo styles and toward the neo-classical taste that became highly fashionable in the late eighteenth century with its clean lines and geometric simplicity.  Nevertheless this commode still champions the rococo taste with its delicate intertwining ribbons on the doors.  Similar to the commode at the Metropolitan Museum, this piece features ormolu mounts of the finest quality attributed to Dominique-Jean.

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