The eye of the collector by Jean-luc Ferrand

BOUDIN Léonard

Friday 22 April 2016, by Barbara Cogollos

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Léonard BOUDIN is one of the greatest cabinetmaker from the 18th century. He is remarkable for his talent but also for his innovative commercial strategy.

Léonard BOUDIN was born in 1735 into a working class family. First he lives in rue Faubourg Saint Antoine and after rue Saint Nicolas in Paris. He starts to work with Pierre MIGEON. BOUDIN specializes in Chinese lacquer and also in floral marquetry. In 1761, he obtained a master degree and starts to work for himself but also continues to work for others famous cabinetmakers such as Louis MOREAU and Gérard PERIDIEZ. In 1770, he is quite famous. Future king of France says « Boudin, rue Traversière, Faubourg Saint Antoine, owns the best shop of furnitures and send his work to province and abroad ».

He needs to buy other shops, when he died, he had 4 : rue de Grenelle, 35 rue Saint Honoré, 2 Cour des fontaines and 14 rue du Mail.

In 1772, he is a cabinetmaker but also opens his first shop rue Fromenteau near Royal Palace. He continues to create his own furnitures and also ask to famous cabinetmakers such as TOPINO, DENIZOT or GILBERT to work with him.

In his shop he sells « all kind of fashionable furnitures, chandeliers, bronzes... » He also work with all kind of materials such as lacquer, different type of woods... He works for the famous aristocraty : Duchess of ARENBERG, Charles François LEBRUN (former minister of Louis XV).

The high and meticulousness of his work contrasts with his grouchy temper. He is industrious and a good business man. He works hard on the delicacy of his bronzes, and also on the quality of his marquetry. Our commode shows this researches of lightness and proportions. Gilt and chiseled bronze around marquetry attest to the exceptional quality. Also the thin inlaid border in the interior of the panels attest that it is his work.

He gradually abandons his job as a cabinetmaker, and prefers to devote himself to his merchant activity and sells his colleague’s work. He starts an innovative commercial strategy and ensure the high quality of what he sells by stamping the furnitures with his name. That’s why, many furnitures have 2 signatures, cabinetmaker and BOUDIN as the seller. BOUDIN also buys old pieces and put his name on it. Today, scientific researches proves that Louis XV period work which has only BOUDIN signature guarantees that he has created himself.

In 1791, BOUDIN he is now only a merchant. This innovative commercial strategy anticipates the disappearance of the french Corporations and the beginning of interior design houses.

BOUDIN is exigent and also a very good negociator. During his life he had the oportunitie to put in jail the cabinetmaker, Pierre Antoine FOULLET, because he owed BOUDIN 3000 livres.

Few years after the Revolution, BOUDIN lost his aristocratic clients, he quits his job and begins to work as a decorator until his death in 1807.

BOUDIN, he’s well appreciated by collectors and also museums where you can see a Louis XV commode in Château de Versailles, a desk in Château sur Marne, small Louis XV commode at Le Louvre Museum. Concerning the auctions, people fight to buy his work : a Louis XV lacquer commode was sold 43000 € by Perrin-Royère-Lajeunesse in Versailles the 28th of November 2004. Louis XV commode was estimated 130 000/ 150 000 € the 12 of December 2012 by Europ Auction in Paris. Also a Transition commode was sold 121 000 € the 7th November 2012 by Christie’s Paris.

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