Le Gaigneur, Louis Constantin(?)
19 Queen Street, London; maker/supplier of ‘buhl’ furniture (fl.c.1814-21)
Very little is known about Le Gaigneur, presumably a Frenchman who transferred his workshop to London. First recorded in 1814/15 at 19 Queen Street (now Harrowby Street), off Edgware Road; he remained there until 1820/21. He was in arrears with his rate payments each year from 1816. According to Royal Collections Online, Le Gaigneur also had an address at 4 Homer Street (date unspecified). In Johnstone’s London Commercial Guide (1818) he was listed as ‘Metal bust maker’.
On 14 November 1815 he received £500 advance payment for two library tables for Carlton House [RA 25351] and also supplied some inkstands. The writing tables, in the manner of Louis XIV bureaux plats, are now at Windsor Castle, one being inscribed ‘Le Gaigneur / IXX Queen St./ Fecit’, the other ‘Le Gaigneur’ [RCIN 53289]. There is a similar table in the Wallace collection [Cat. No. F.4791] signed twice. The two writing tables and a pair of smaller tables can be seen in a coloured etching of the North Drawing Room published in The Royal Pavilion at Brighton (1827). One of the smaller tables may be identical to a table incised ‘L. L. Gag’ which re-acquired for the Pavilion in 1986 [No. 340–322]. It had been sold by a descendant of the Prince Regent’s mistress Lady Conygham. A further writing table in the Royal Collection in the French Régence style is also attributed to Le Gaigneur (RCIN 35250). A handsome rosewood cylinder desk and cabinet, with Jeremy Ltd in 1986 and sold by Christie’s, London, 16 November 1995, lot 139, is inscribed ‘Le Gaigneur No 19 Queen St., Edgware Road, London, 1816’. It is now in a private collection. There is a ‘buhl’ inkstand at Attingham Hall signed by Le Gaigneur and when the contents of the Hall were sold by the auctioneer Robbins, beginning on 30 July 1827, lot 115 was ‘A MAGNIFICENT TORTOISE-SHELL AND BUHL PARISIAN CABINET, With Coved Top And Panels, In Ebony and Rosewood Frame, Fitted up inside with Ten Drawers, banded Satinwood… enclosed by Folding Doors... 2 feet by 1-Foot-1, and 4 Feet-4 High’. In 1995 John Hardy had three poor photocopied images of what is certainly the same piece, with the word ‘Attingham’ written across the top (present location unknown). A closely related cabinet, which can be attributed to Le Gaigneur, is on loan at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; this cabinet may have once belonged to Elizabeth Lamb, 1st Viscountess Melbourne, who was part of the Prince Regent’s circle.Unsigned ‘buhl’ furniture, which might possibly be associated with Le Gaigneur, is also recorded.
Revised by Martin Levy (June 2020)
Sources: DEFM; Laking, The Furniture of Windsor Castle (1905), p. 114; Burlington Magazine (June 1980), p. 416; Jourdain & Rose, English Furniture: the Georgian Period, 1750–1830 (1953), p. 150; Levy, ‘Sincerest Form of Flattery’, Country Life (15 June 1989); Levy, ‘Taking up the Pen’, Country Life (23 April 1992). https://www.rct.uk/collection/search#/1/collection/35289/desk; https://www.rct.uk/collection/35250/table