Canape, Possibly Postdam. Circa 1755-1765. Painted Beech Wood.
Provenance: Private collection, Paris, circa 1960; Countess Ruth Costantino, New York ; Count A.G. Costantino, Washington
Comparative literature: H. Kreisel and G. Himmelheber, Die Kunst des deutschen Mbels:Spatbarock und Rokoko, vol. II, 1983, p. 224, fig. 770. H. Schmitz, Deutsche Mbel des Barock & Rokoko, Stuttgart, 1923, p. 138.
The canape has a tripartite molded back. Each cartouche-shaped section of the back is contained within a carved and white- and pink-painted frame, with C-scrolls as well as floral and rocaille forms. The top rail is centered by a delicately carved shell-inspired pattern flanked by foliate sprays. The top rail is further accentuated, at the two outer cartouche-shaped backrests with elaborated C-scroll finial carvings. The serpentine-shaped seat rail is carved to match the backrest, with the additional use of open work and accentuated C-scrolls. The whole is raised on eight pronounced cabriole legs, each terminating in a scrolled foot. This canape exemplifies the so-called "symmetrical rococo," a style which evolved in the 1750s in reaction to the asymmetrical extremities of the true rococo. The form and carved decoration of this piece relate to designs for canape by Johann Michael II Hoppenhaupt (1709-1751) and engraved in 1753 by Meil. The tripartite form and adorsed legs derive from designs in Knobelsdorff's influential sketchbook, while the whiplash rocaille curves and naturalistic motifs derive from Nahl's oeuvre. The amalgamation of all of these elements was seen in Hoppenhaupt's finest work. The delicately crafted, yet boldly designed three-dimensionality of the carving, as well as the unexpected combination of forms, all point to an unconventional master designer, joiner and carver, possibly Hoppenhaupt himself.