France, Louis XVI period
Ebony and mahogany veneer
Chased and gilt bronzes
Silver plated metal
Attributed to Philippe Montigny (1734-1800)
- an inkstand by Philippe Montigny in ebony and gilt bronze, marked by Queen Marie-Antoinette private Garde-Meuble and the Petit Trianon, château de Versailles
- an inkstand attributed to Pierre Garnier around 1762-1765, Calouste Gulbenkian Museum (Lisbon)
Rectangular in shape, this inkstand has four straight sides, three silver plated metal cups (two cubic cups for ink and drying sand and a rectangular bowl for the sponge), separated by two small ebony veneered flowerbeds.
The two bowls placed lengthwise are also ebony veneered and curved in a semicircle to accommodate writing utensils.
The inkstand is decorated with chased and gilt bronzes such as the faceted geometric handle and its attachments, the frames made of moulded flowerbeds and rods on the top, the pierced friezes with alternating large and small circles decorated with florets, the moulding running along the protruding base and the small ball feet.
A utilitarian object
Sometimes called inkhorn, this object was used to store and make available to the letter writer the tools necessary for writing, such as the inkstand, the drying sand box, scrapers, etc. Easy to transport, thanks to the lightweight materials, this object is also provided with a handle. Both utilitarian and decorative, inkstands were sometimes made of precious materials as it is the case here, where are combined mahogany, ebony and gilt and chased bronze.
In the second half of the 18th century, the evolution of taste aspired to abandon the contoured shapes and movement characteristic of “rocaille” for new and more classical aesthetic criteria. The inkstands then associated sober and geometric shapes with a neo-classical vocabulary, as here the wide interlacing frieze running along the belt, a motif directly inspired by ancient architecture.
Emmanuel Sarméo, Les écritoires néoclassiques français, mémoire de master dirigé par Daniela Gallo, Université Grenoble Alpes, 2008.
Good overall condition, restoration of wear, small cracks on the reverse of the base, slight signs of wear on the bronze