A splendid German Empire console by Johannes Klinckerfuss and Casimir Münch
On the upper part of the console, there is a white marble resting on richly chiselled bronze gilded plaques with figures of cupid seat on hammocks made through intertwined leaves, the bronze top rest on two splendid bulbous gild bronze columns with tiny flowers in the manner of Casimir Münch; on the back two square mahogany columns, with finely chiselled capitals with acanthus leaves, at the base a gilded bronze with geometric motifs, on a flamed mahogany base on rectangular bronze feet.
The silhouette of the gilt bronze front vase-shaped stem cast is a signature style of Casimir Münch, as is possible to see from other well know works made by him; at the same time, this console differs in importance and dimension from traditional Gueridons and Tables know till now realised by Johannes Klinckerfuss and Casimir Münch.
Klinckerfuss was one of the most influential German cabinetmakers loved at home and abroad, especially at the Tsar’s court in St. Petersburg, where he sold numerous furniture and probably also our console.
The previous owner bought the console in St. Petersburg several years ago; unfortunately, there are no formal documents and evidence that can prove this origin. The Russian provenience could be supported by the fact that Klinckerfuss entered in contact with the noble Russian entourage at Tsar’s court in St. Petersburg from the beginning of his career in the Rotenberg’s atelier and surely later in the court of Württemberg linked to the Russian crown court. However, without considering this aspect, undoubtedly, given the remarkable quality in realising such a piece of furniture, this console was commissioned by an important figure of the time. Studies have been started to identify the provenance and commissioning of this splendid console by art experts.
Johannes Klinckerfuss cabinet maker
Johannes Klinckerfuss (1770-1831) was one of the most important German cabinet makers. Born in Bad Nauheim, he was the son of the master carpenter Philip Klinckerfuss, from whom he learned the job initially, then later from the master Gürtler and finally became a craftsman in 1788.
In 1789 he joined the famed German cabinetmaker David Roentgen in Neuwied to complete his ebenist and menusier training. He became an esteemed collaborator of David Roentgen. It isn’t a case that Roentgen intended to employ him as head of his company in St. Petersburg, but the beginning of the First War of Coalitions in 1792 ended this plan. It was probably on the intercession of Roentgen that Klinckerfuss began working for the Duchess Dorothee Sophie von Württemberg (1736-1798), wife of Duke Friedrich Eugen (1732-1797) in Bayreuth in 1793. After the death of the regent couple, Frederick II of Württemberg succeeded, who later became king of Württemberg (1754-1816). Klinckerfuss continued to work for the Court, producing a large number of fine furniture for the royal palaces.
Thanks to his merits, Klinckerfuss obtained the title of “Cabinets-Ebenisten” of the Court.
In 1812 Klinckerfuss left his position from the Court to open his workshop in Stuttgart, having gained a good reputation as a supplier of fine furniture for the sumptuous palace buildings of Württemberg. During this time, he produced numerous pieces in the Empire German style; much of this furniture are still today in the castles of Weil, Ludwigsburg and Rosenstein. He received new orders from the Court and Frederick II’s successor, King Wilhelm I (1781-1864). Around 1830, Klinckerfuss made a considerable number of pieces of furniture to furnish the royal palaces and castles; about 400 pieces of furniture, it was delivered.
At the beginning of his career as an entrepreneur, the furniture made by Klinckerfuss was close to the manufacture of his master Roentgen; straight lines and precise symmetry of classicism dominated; later, the design was oriented towards the elegance of the French Empire style, following the Biedermeier style.
There is not much information about Casimir Münch; we know that he held the position of Hofziseleur (court ormolu chaser) at the Court of Stuttgart, the capital of the Kingdom of Württemberg.
Evidence relating to his works comes mainly from international auctions sales where his signature “C Münch Hof Ciseleur in Stuttgart” is present on numerous Klinckerfuss’s furniture. The partnership between the two was very close and prolific. In all likelihood, the production of bronzes made by Münch’s atelier was absorbed mainly into the production of Klinckerfuss.
Attribution to Johannes Klinckerfuss and Casimir Münch
In particular, if we analyse the two bulbous front gild columns cast with tiny flowers from our console are identical to the central steam of Gueridons and Tables signed by Klinckerfuss and Casimir Münch sold through international auction houses and present in German museums. For straight verification, we have included some web links:
The quality of the furniture made by Klinckerfuss placed him as the leading cabinet maker in southern Germany; he took as a model the latest fashion creations from the primary European art and craft centres and created his own shapes and patterns. Klinckerfuss can be seen as the true founder of the 19th century Stuttgart furniture tradition.
He was appreciated at home and abroad; his creations have been esteemed at the European regal houses, as we can see ad example from a painting by Jean-François Garneray made in 1822, which he portrays the Duchess de Berry and her children in their apartment at the Tuileries Palace, where there are two mahogany jardinère, identical to one auctioned by Sotheby’s, accredited to Johannes Klinckerfuss and signed Casimir Münch Stuttgart.
A Guéridon, Jardinière by Johannes Klinckerfuss and Casimir Münch is kept in the Landesmuseum Württemberg State Museum. Furthrmore, a historical photo shows a similar furniture in the Rosenstein royal summer palace, for which Casimir Münch also supplied two chandeliers in the late 1820s. It is possible to notice the column from this Guèridon is identical to the same ones of our console.
A short note on David Roentgen
David Roentgen (1743 in Herrnhaag – February 12, 1807) was the most significant German cabinetmaker. He made furniture for some of the grandest patrons in Europe as Frederick the Great of Prussia and Marie Antoinette of France.
He embarked on the long journey to Russia in 1783 with a consignment of furniture, which he was able to sell for the most part to Catherine the Great, who was to prove his most lavish patron.