The eye of the collector by Jean-luc Ferrand

LINKE François (1855-1946)

Friday 18 December 2015, by Barbara Cogollos

All the versions of this article: [English] [français]


François Linke was born in Pankraz in Bohemia. He considered one of the greatest cabinet makers of the last century. He opened in 1881 his own studio at 170 rue du Faubourg Saint-Antoine and a showroom in Place Vendome.

The old regime was to him his main source of inspiration, whether of Louis XV style or Louis XVI style. Linke wanted to create a new style that combines Rococo and fluidity of the Art Nouveau style by partnering with the sculptor Léon Messagé and sitting her own style.

Throughout his life, Linke has used international fairs as a way to explore new markets. He was honored by the critics at the Paris Universal Exhibition in 1900 and received the Legion of Honor six years later.

Logbooks of François LINKE.

Cabinetmakers had at the time for custom to record in "logbooks" all information referring to the manufacture of furniture: sketches and improvements in design, names of partners or clients, the name of the artisans participating in the creation of the cabinet, the cost of these interventions, etc. In short, a whole set of information very interesting and necessary to understand how the business is organized as a cabinetmaker at the time and especially how works François Linke.

The study of F. Linke’s logbooks by Christopher Payne (F.Linke, The Belle Epoque of French furniture, ed. Antique collectors’club) allows to re-experience the evolution of this renowned cabinetmaker and highlights several interesting information.

Even though benefiting relationships and the financial support of his father-Pierre Teutsh, F. Linke had to work very hard to climb the ladder and stand out of 20,000 people who then constituted the cabinetmakers of the Faubourg St. Antoine and access to 4000 ranking of cabinetmakers, mostly of French origin, who worked for the "High Luxury".

If the ambition to develop his own style and stand out remains in the minds of François Linke, the reality however requires him to do progressively because he inherits neither a reputation gained by previous generations neither an already acquired customer. He must all realize himself, and the task is immense !!!

Therefore, if Mr. Linke had, in its early stages a private client (Mr Worms, Mr Rolin) and sometimes even renowned as Mr Anatole Beaumetz, brother of the Minister of Arts, he must for many years work in the shadow of woodworking famous houses. Reason why most of his works "Youth" will not be signed not only to undisclosed customers of these houses behind their furniture but can wear other than stamps F. Linke.

These Partners are then in France:

- The Krieger house, which will become in 1880 Krieger, Damon and Co.
- The house Jansen decoration
- The famous Christofle house
- Millet House
- The house Baguès

And abroad (for the fabrication of english style furniture mostly):

- Maples
- Edwards & Roberts
- Hamptonsof Pall Mall
- Morrison of Edinbourg

Moreover, François Linke restores and modifies that time several antique furniture, very lucrative business if we are to believe his logbooks but abandoned quickly.

In parallel to this activity, F. Linke who takes courses evening of drawing at the School of Decorative Arts to acquire greater autonomy in the furniture sketches of development, will continue to assert his own style. An meeting between the sculptor Léon Messagé will then be capital and allow F. Linke to reach full maturity of his art and affirm what is now called the "Linke style".

François Linke and Léon Messagé : personal style developed.

It was in 1885 that back the first traces of collaboration between F. Linke and his neighbor of district L. Messagé . Doing participate sculptors in the decoration of furniture was something quite common for a cabinetmaker and many of sculptors worked for the House Linke such: Rambaud, Henri Huppe, Fernand Dubois, A.Sedille, etc. However, the value that gave our cabinetmaker to Leon Messagé seemed different if we judge by the amount of fees paid by F. Linke to him. Was it the fact that L. Messagé had contributed to the success of his friend and colleague Joseph-Emmanuel Zwiener cabinetmaker, who had won a gold medal at the last Universal Exhibition in 1889 by presenting a cabinet.

François Linke and the king of Egypt, S.A.R FOUAD I. (1920-1946)
"The most beautiful flagship of my career that to have him as a client".

F.Linke talking about king FOUAD I in a letter addressed to the agent of the king, Verruci Bey on the 19th oct 1935.

François Linke realized by his registers over 1200 furniture and art objects to the King of Egypt in four palaces for a sum of 18,160,866 francs.

- The Qubba Palace and Abdeen Palace (over 500 pieces) in Cairo
- The Montaza Palace and Ras al-Tin Palace (17000 m2) in Alexandria

We must go back to the time of King Louis XIV to find such magnitude and such splendor in commands. These special relationship with the throne of Egypt have sparked jealousy and François Linke forced to justify the cost of the furniture. The latter has also visited Egypt in 1926 to strengthen ties with Verruci Bey, the agent of King Fouad I. Mr. Linke has participated actively in strengthening the influence of fashion and French culture, already very developed in Egypt.

For more informations : François Linke 1855-1946, The Belle Epoque of French Furniture, Edition Cristopher Payne.

François Linke, the quotation :

JPEG - 53.7 kb
Paire de fauteuils à la reine en bois sculpté et doré, circa 1920
Prix d’adjudication : 21 500 €
(c) Christie’s Londres, 1er Octobre 2002
JPEG - 68 kb
Vitrine en bois de rose et de violette doré à l’or fin, circa 1895
Prix d’adjudication : 20 000 €
(c) Christie’s Londres, 1er octobre 2002
JPEG - 41.3 kb
Bureau plat en bois de rose et de violette doré a l’or fin style Louis XV, circa 1900
Prix d’adjudication : 7 900 €
(c) Christie’s New-York, 24 avril 2002

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